Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

The Vivaldi Revival

Using landmark recordings, Lucie Skeaping charts the rediscovery of Vivaldi in the late 19th century. His music had lain in virtual obscurity for over 150 years.

Using landmark recordings, Lucie Skeaping charts the rediscovery of Vivaldi in the late 19th century. His music, now so familiar, had lain in virtual obscurity for more than 150 years.

In the late 19th century, Vivaldi had begun to creep back into the standard repertoire after an absence of more than 150 years. After his death in 1741, many dismissed Vivaldi as a second-rate composer; Charles Avison declared that Vivaldi lacked 'both harmony and invention', and the popularity of his music fell into a steady decline. Some 30 years later, on one of his grand musical tours, the musicologist Charles Burney was unable to collect any evidence, either direct or indirect, of Vivaldi's existence in Venice.

In the early 1800s, after it was discovered that Bach had based a number of his own great works on Vivaldi models, interest in the latter's music began to grow. Elgar admitted that he had learned the art of figured bass from a copy of Vivaldi's concertos; Fritz Kreisler published a concerto under Vivaldi's name and only admitted the false authorship after 22 years.

In the 1930s, Ezra Pound hailed Vivaldi as a champion of 'Italian musical autarchy', and he and his violinist mistress Olga Rudge sponsored a number of performances of his music in America and Europe.

The earliest recording of The Four Seasons was made in 1942 by Bernardo Molinari and the Orchestra dell'Accademia di S Cecila, and those four concertos have since become arguably some of the most recognisable pieces in the world.

Lucie charts this remarkable revival of a once forgotten master, using some of the landmark recordings in the Vivaldi catalogue, and explores some of the most interesting recent discoveries of Vivaldi scores.

Vivaldi: Concerto in E, RV269 (La Primavera)
Alice Harnoncourt (violin)
Vienna Concentus Musicus
Nikolaus Harnoncourt (director)
TELDEC 0630-13572-2 Disc 1 Track 1

Vivaldi: Concerto for four violins (L'Estro Armonico, Op 3 No 10) - 3rd mvt
La Serenissima
Adrian Chandler (director)
AVIE 2106 Track 39

Bach: Concerto in A minor for four harpsichords and strings, BWV1065 (3rd mvt)
Trevor Pinnock, Kenneth Gilbert, Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Nicholas Kraemer (harpsichords)
The English Concert
Trevor Pinnock (director)
ARCHIV 413 634-2 Disc 3 Tracks 1-3

Vivaldi: Concerto in B flat for violin and strings, RV362 (La Caccia)
Alice Harnoncourt (violin)
Vienna Concentus Musicus
Nikolaus Harnoncourt (director)
TELDEC 0630-13572-2 Disc 2 Tracks 10-12

Vivaldi: Concerto in E, RV267 (L'Inverno) - 1st mvt
Hugh Bean (violin)
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Leopold Stokowski (conductor)
DECCA VIV 3 Side 2 Band 3

Kreisler: Concerto in C (in the style of Vivaldi)
Fritz Kreisler (violin)
Victor String Orchestra
Donald Voorhees (conductor)
NAXOS 8.110922 Tracks 8-10

Vivaldi: Concerto in G for bassoon and strings, RV494 (1st mvt)
Tamás Benkocs (bassoon)
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia
Bela Drahos (conductor)
NAXOS 8.557829 Track 16

Vivaldi: Sonata No 10 in B minor for violin and continuo (Manchester) - 1st mvt
Romanesca:
Andrew Manze (violin)
Nigel North (lute)
John Toll (harpsichord)
HARMONIA MUNDI HMX 2907342.43 Disc 2 Track 13

Vivaldi: Nisi Dominus, RV803 (1st and 7 mvts)
Carolyn Sampson, Tuva Semmingsen (sopranos)
Hilary Summers (mezzo-soprano)
Katherine McGillivray (viola d'amore)
King's Consort
Robert King (director)
HYPERION CDS 44181 Tracks 13-14.

1 hour

Broadcast

Podcast