You could say I’m one of the lucky ones. (Don’t ever say that…)
I fell in love with classical music when I was about 10. (When I say classical music, I basically mean music written before the 20th century and or music written for an orchestra… It’s a specifically broad term…) The first “classical music” that I heard and fell in love with was Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. To this day, I hold it as a rule that if you want to get hooked on Classical music, you should try the Four Seasons.
Vivaldi is without a doubt my favorite composer. The funny, not-so-fortunate thing about Vivaldi is that most people don’t know too much about him. Vivaldi was the Italian predecessor to J. S. Bach (who actually transcribed many Vivaldi pieces for different instruments. He was the original Vivaldi fan.) In fact, the only reason we know anything about Vivaldi today is because they turned up some of his works while looking through Bach’s!
Most famous of Vivaldi’s compositions are The Four Seasons, which were written for an all-girls orphanage in Italy, and are to-date the most oft-played classical pieces in the world. Everyone has heard Spring. Lesser heard are the other three seasons, Summer Fall and Winter, but among these are some of my favorites.
In no particular order, here are 6 of my favorite Vivaldi pieces:
The Four Seasons uses the texture and shape of the music to tell a story. In Winter, you can hear a blizzard, slippery ice and rain pitter-pattering on the roof of a little cottage. See if you can pick these sounds out of the piece!
Summer III. Presto
This has always been a favorite. Also from the Four Seasons, the earlier movements of Summer tell about a shepherd warning of an impending storm, and you can almost feel the heat radiating from the sun in the first movement. This final movement is the depiction of said storm. Totally a summer gale. Joshua Bell knocks this one out of the park. This recording can be found on iTunes.
Concerto in G Minor for Two Cellos
This is really one of the most aggressive pieces you’ve ever seen. The cello soloists really shine here. Another great recording of this song from Yo-Yo-Ma can be found on iTunes.
Concerto Grosso in B Minor
It’s pretty hard to find a decent recording of this one, but it’s a great piece nonetheless. I have found one recording of this one on iTunes that I like, which you can find here.
Concerto for Violin in C Minor
Another fairly aggressive piece, but I couldn’t find a video of an orchestra playing it, so… enjoy the birds!
Concerto in A Minor for Two Violins
Finally, a brilliant double concerto. This is a very aggressive piece as well.
Hopefully you’ve experienced the power of Baroque music — and the sparkle of Vivaldi.
Hooked? All of the pieces above can be found on iTunes. A suggested album to get you started can be found here.