Tuesday, December 18, 2007

music of the Red Priest, said Princess Haiku still inspires

Fortunately, I am starting to feel better and have been listening to music tonight. I found this stunning video of Sarah Chang playing the music of the Red Priest on KDFC. It's my opinion that Vivaldi was as strikingly beautiful as was his music. Apparently, so did the hundreds of orphans that Vivaldi taught.

"Except for his music, not much is known about Antonio Vivaldi (1678^-1741). Born in Venice to musically skilled parents, he learned music from his father and later studied for the priesthood. Ordained at 25, he said mass for only a year until his asthma forced him to retire. He then dedicated his life to performing on violin and keyboard, teaching at the girls' school; Ospedale della Pietà composing instrumental and vocal music, and producing his operas and pastiches."

In Venice there was the extraordinary Ospedale della Pietà which was an institution for orphaned or illegitimate girls, foundlings and the female children of poor families. In fact there remains a plaque on the church threatening with damnation parents who tried to pass off their children as orphans. One can see the beautiful church of the Pietà, Santa Maria della Visitazione on the Grand Canal pictured above. It is but a short walk from the Saint Mark's Square and the Bridge of Sighs. Already in the 17 th century day this ospedale had achieved fame for its work with disadvantaged girls, especially for their singing and instrumental musicianship. Composers like Antonio Lotti and Scarlatti had served as musical directors.

This church and the Ospedale attached to it will forever be associated with the name of the great Italian priest-composer, Antonio Vivaldi (1675-1741). It was here that Vivaldi composed for the girls such marvelous works for chorus and especially for various combinations of instruments. The young ladies for whom Vivaldi composed and directed music were known as the putte or maidens. By 1738 there were about a hundred putte in residence at the ospedale. The girls were divided into two categories: the figlie di comun or commoners who received a general education and the figlie di coro or choristers and musicians who received an exacting musical training in solfeggio, singing and instrumental technique. Vivaldi supervised the teaching and served as concert master and composer-in-residence as mentioned. The reputation of the Pieta surpassed anything in Europe and drew visitors from all over Europe.

If you are interested in learning more about Vivaldi and the young ladies he taught the book, read Vivaldi's Virgins.

"Barbara Quick's Vivaldi's Virgins is a coming of age story set in 18th century Venice utilizing and transforming a literary form popular during that era. As a violinist, the narrator allows the reader to experience the richness of Vivaldi's music from a perspective unavailable today to modern listeners."


Sherry said...

Oh thank you for this...I read "Vivaldi's Virgins" not too long ago and loved the book. All of this rich history and background you've given has added to the enjoyment I felt when I read the book.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

What a fascinating post!
And so glad you're starting to feel a little better.

Princess Haiku said...

Sherry; I enjoyed the book also. Thanks Vanilla.

Barbara at Spirit Blooms said...

I hadn't heard of that book, but I love his music and have been fascinated for some time by the fact that he wrote his music for girls in an orphanage. That video is also amazing and beautiful. She's wonderful.