As part of Baroque Spring, a month long season of Baroque music and culture, Donald Macleod explores the life and works of Vivaldi.
Venice was famous for its Ospedali, foundations set up to take care of orphaned or otherwise unwanted children. Vivaldi had a long relationship with the Pieta, which took in girls and trained them in domestic skills and in music-making. Vivaldi was employed as a violin teacher, and was soon writing music for the girls to sing and play too. Very quickly, no trip to Venice was complete without attending a service or performance at the Pieta. As one visitor wrote home, "it leads in the perfection of symphonic music .. they play the violin, the recorder, the organ, the oboe, the cello, the bassoon, in short, there is no instrument large enough to frighten them ..".