Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra String Chamber Ensemble and violinist Dan Zhu will be performing The Four Seasons on Tuesday, June 28th at 9pm, Rector’s Palace.
Maestro Marc Tardue will be the conductor for this concert.
Get your tickets here.
The Four Seasons of Antonio Vivaldi probably is, to this day, one of the most popular and well-known classical pieces in the world. Whether it was in a movie, a commercial or anywhere else, you most likely have listened to it at least once in your life (purposely or not).
The Four Seasons or “Le quattro Stagioni” in Italian was written in 1720 and published in 1725 in Amsterdam during the Baroque era. It is undoubtedly one of the best-known works of Vivaldi and actually constitutes the 8th opus of a 12 concerti work named “The contest of Harmony and Invention”.
The Four Seasons, as the title evokes, contains 4 concerti in this order: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Each of these are divided in 3 movements with a tempo going: fast-slow-fast.
In addition to the music in itself, the concerti are accompanied by short poems -most likely to also be written by A. Vivaldi- which transcribes perfectly what the composer is trying to express through his music. This custom [the program music] was pretty unusual at the time but marked how pioneer was Vivaldi’s vision, since it became much more common later on during the Romantic era.
Here are the poems for each season:
Springtime is upon us.
The birds celebrate her return with festive song,
And murmuring streams are
Softly caressed by the breezes.
Thunderstorms, those heralds of Spring roar,
Casting their dark mantle over heaven,
Then they die away to silence,
And the birds take up their charming songs once more.
On the flower-strewn meadow, with leafy branches
Rustling overhead, the goat-herd sleeps,
His faithful dog beside him.
Led by the festive sound of rustic bagpipes,
Nymphs and shepherds lightly dance
Beneath spring’s beautiful canopy
Allegro non molto
Under a hard season, fired up by the sun
Languishes man, languishes the flock and burns the pine
We hear the cuckoo’s voice:
Then sweet songs of the turtledove and finch are heard.
Soft breezes stir the air, but threatening
The North Wind sweeps them suddenly aside.
The shepherd tremble,
Fearing violent storms and his fate.
Adagio e piano – Presto e forte
The fear of lightning and fierce thunder
Robs his tired limbs of rest
As gnats and flies buzz furiously around.
Alas, his fear were justified
The Heavens thunder and roar and with hail
Cut the head off the wheat and damages the grain.
Celebrates the peasant, with songs and dances,
The pleasure of a bountiful harvest.
And fired up by Bacchu’s liquor,
Many end their revelry in sleep.
Everyone is made to forget their cares and to sing and dance
By the air which is tempered with pleasure
And (by) the season that invites so many, many
Out of their sweetest slumber to fine enjoyment
The hunters emerge at the new dawn,
And with horns and dogs and guns depart upon their hunting
The beast flees and they follow its trail,
Terrified and tired of the great noise
Of guns and dogs, the beast, wounded, threatens
Languidly to flee, but harried, dies.
Allegro non molto
To tremble from cold in the icy snow,
In the harsh breath of a horrid wind;
To run, stamping one’s feet every moment,
Our teeth chattering in the extreme cold
Before the fire to pass peaceful,
Contented days while the rain outside pours down.
We thread the icy path slowly and cautiously,
For fear of tripping and falling.
Then turn abruptly, slip, crash on the ground and,
Rising, hasten on across the ice lest it cracks up.
We feel the chill north winds course through the home
Despite the locked and bolted doors…
This is winter, which nonetheless
Brings its own delights.
Through this work, Vivaldi truly and faithfully grabbed the essence and feelings of each season making The Four Seasons a unique and genuine piece. Also, through this work, Vivaldi’s talent for storytelling was inevitably displayed.
But storytelling was not his only talent, so let’s take a quick focus on who was Antonio Vivaldi. Born in 1678 and died in 1741, the latter was an Italian composer. But his history with music doesn’t start with this. His father was a violinist and taught him how to play the violin. And because himself was a violinist, it explains the fact that most of his concerti are written for violins. Throughout his flourishing career he wrote more than 470 concerti and 100 cantates, aries, serenates, but also 45 operas and more.
By the time he composed the Four Seasons, he was also teaching music at the girl’s Orphanage “Conservatoria del’’ Ospedale della Pietà” as violin master and composer in residence.
His boldness and virtuosity led him to become an inspiration and influence for many other composers such as Haydn or Bach. The latter was especially fond of Vivaldi’s work and transcribed several of his concerti for keyboard, strings, organ and harpsichord.
Fun fact : Vivaldi let his imagination and creativity run freely and let quite original instructions for violinists on how to interpret The Four Seasons such as: playing like a “sleeping goatherd” or even to imagine “a barking dog ».
We hope you will enjoy Tuesday’s concert!