MuseData: Antonio Vivaldi

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Published Sonatas and Concertos

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (1678-1741) is best known to modern audiences for his instrumental music. Like most composers of his time, Vivaldi composed in the formal medium of the sonata in his earliest publications (from 1703). His reputation was propelled by his concertos, the earliest of which appeared in 1711. This is still the genre with which he is most widely associated.

Op. 1: Suonate da camera a trè, due violini e violone o cembalo

Vivaldi's twelve sonatas Op. 1 are presumed to have been published prior to his appointment as maestro di violino at the Ospedale della Pietà, Venice, because he is described without reference to the institution as "musico di violino, professore veneto" (a violinist and teacher in the Veneto). The works were dedicated to the count Annibale Gambara, one of five sons in a big family of noblemen from Brescia (the city in which Vivaldi's father was born), a provincial capital in the western Veneto. The Gambara also had a modest palace on the Grand Canal in the Venetian parish of San Barnabà.

Excerpt from the Violino primo (first violin) part of the Folìa of Vivaldi's Sonata Op. 1, No. 12 (Venice: Giuseppe Sala, 1705). Image from the partbook in the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello, Venice. Used by permission.

These trio sonatas contained various numbers of movements (3 to 6), most in binary form. The four outer works (Nos. 1, 2, 11, and 12) were in minor keys, the others in major ones. The best known work is Op. 1, No. 12, which features an ambitious folìa movement at its conclusion. The earliest surviving print of Op. 1 was published in Venice (G. Sala) in 1705. The collection was reprinted in Amsterdam in 1723 (E. Roger, as print No. 363), in Paris in 1759 (Le Clerc), and in Austria in 1759. Many movements are brief and musically simple, so much so that were one to judge from this opus alone, one would not have anticipated the kind of success that Vivaldi later found.

Opus, Work No. Ryom No. Genre / Instrumentation Key PDF (CCARH edn.)
Op. 1, No. 1 RV 73 Sonata / V1 V2 Vne (alt. cem) G Minor RV 73
Op. 1, No. 2 RV 67 Sonata / V1 V2 Vn (alt. cem) E Minor RV 67
Op. 1, No. 3 RV 61 Sonata / V1 V2 Vn (alt. cem) C Major RV 61
Op. 1, No. 4 RV 66 Sonata / V1 V2 Vn (alt. cem) E Major RV 66
Op. 1, No. 5 RV 69 Sonata / V1 V2 Vn (alt. cem) F Major RV 69
Op. 1, No. 6 RV 62 Sonata / V1 V2 Vn (alt. cem) D Major RV 62
Op. 1, No. 7 RV 65 Sonata / V1 V2 Vn (alt. cem) E Major RV 65
Op. 1, No. 8 RV 64 Sonata / V1 V2 Vn (alt. cem) D Major RV 64
Op. 1, No. 9 RV 75 Sonata / V1 V2 Vn (alt. cem) A Major RV 75
Op. 1, No. 10 RV 78 Sonata / V1 V2 Vn (alt. cem) B Major RV 78
Op. 1, No. 11 RV 79 Sonata / V1 V2 Vn (alt. cem) B Minor RV 79
Op. 1, No. 12 RV 63 Sonata / V1 V2 Vn (alt. cem) D Minor RV 63

Op. 2: Sonate a violino e basso per il cembalo

Detail of Luca Carlevaris's depiction of the regatta held on the Grand Canal, Venice, for Frederick IV of Denmark (1709). Reproduction of public-domain image from the Getty Museum as shown in the Google Art project.

The trio sonata, over which Vivaldi had exhibited his command in Op. 1, had been the most prevalent instrumental genre of the 1690s, but in the first decade of the eighteenth century interest began to gravitate towards the "solo" sonata--a work in several movements one ensemble instrument and a basso continuo. In this 1709 collection by the Venetian publisher Antonio Bortoli Vivaldi pursued a more expressive vein of musical enticement. The opus was dedicated to the visiting young monarch Frederick IV of Denmark. As prince of Schleswig Holstein, his extended stay drew much artistic attention. No fewer that three operas were dedicated to him.

Seven of these sonatas were cast in minor keys. The movement structure remained variable. Vivaldi was moving in the direction of fewer movements but with greater musical elaboration within each movement. He was still described as musico di violino but also as maestro dei concerti (concert-master) of the Ospedale della Pietà.

Opus, Work No. Ryom No. Genre / Instrumentation Key PDF (CCARH edn.)
Op. 2, No. 1 RV 27 Sonata / V Cem G Minor Example
Op. 2, No. 2 RV 31 Sonata / V Cem A Major Example
Op. 2, No. 3 RV 14 Sonata / V Cem D Minor Example
Op. 2, No. 4 RV 20 Sonata / V Cem F Major Example
Op. 2, No. 5 RV 36 Sonata / V Cem B Minor Example
Op. 2, No. 6 RV 1 Sonata / V Cem C Major Example
Op. 2, No. 7 RV 8 Sonata / V Cem C Minor Example
Op. 2, No. 8 RV 23 Sonata / V Cem G Major Example
Op. 2, No. 9 RV 16 Sonata / V Cem E Minor Example
Op. 2, No. 10 RV 21 Sonata / V Cem F Minor Example
Op. 2, No. 11 RV 9 Sonata / V Cem D Major Example
Op. 2, No. 12 RV 32 Sonata / V Cem A Minor Example

Like Op. 1, Op. 2 had a long after-life in both reprints and manuscript copies, mainly abroad. These included the publications of E. Roger (Amsterdam, 1712) and several editions (1721-1730) by I. Walsh J. Young (London).

Op. 3: L'estro armonico: Concerti

Portrait of Ferdinando de' Medici, grand prince of Tuscany, in c. 1687 by the Venetian painter Niccolò Cassana. Wikimedia Commons.

The first concertos by Vivaldi to reach print were those of Opus 3 (Amsterdam, 1711). With them Vivaldi suddenly became a celebrity, for although he was well known as a virtuoso, his previously published works had found a relatively modest reception. Vivaldi's titles remained as they were in Op. 2. Most composers described the contents of a publication in sufficient detail to indicate instrumentation, but Vivaldi settled for the word "Concerti" in order to allow space for the titles of his patron, the Grand Prince of Tuscany, Ferdinando III (1663-1713). The Grand Prince, who led a flamboyant life, enjoyed his visits to Venice, where however he contracted syphilis in 1696. This led to his premature death and changed the course of Tuscan (and imperial) history. Meanwhile, however, his patronage of music benefited many composers of the time including Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751), George Frederick Handel (1685-1759), and Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725). His Bavarian wife, Violante Beatrice (1673-1731), was in many ways a still more significant supporter of individual singers and instrumentalists.

Having now completed eight years' of teaching at the Ospedale of the Pietà in Venice, Vivaldi shows himself to have experimented with a variety of approaches to textures and groupings of instruments. These twelve works are arranged cyclically, such that Nos. 1, 4, 7, and 10 are scored for four violins and string orchestra; Nos. 2, 5, 8, and 11 for two violins, violoncello, and string orchestra; and Nos. 3, 6, 9, and 12 for solo violin (Violino Principale) and string orchestra. Within the concertino groups (four violins or, alternatively, two violins and violoncello), there is further separation. The "four violins" model often involves the pairing of the instruments such that one duo imitates another. This kind of experimentation is suggested by the word estro, which refers to gestational properties whereby one musical passage generates the need for the next. In musical terms, the sophistication of the idea represented an enormous step forward for Vivaldi, whose first sonatas were primitive and somewhat generic by comparison.

Additionally, the music was more cogent than before, the organization manifestly rational. The imaginative scoring, careful markup, and newly pungent musical affects were novelties not found in Opp. 1 or 2. If he had leaned on the familiar models of Arcangelo Corelli (1753-1713) before, Vivaldi was now producing music that was novel, ambitious, and aesthetically pleasing. Largely in coincidence with this publication, Vivaldi's concerts at the Pietà began to win plaudits from a succession of visiting dignitaries from abroad.

Within the context of the early concerto, Op. 3 was equally noteworthy. The now elderly Corelli had perfected the concerto grosso [his Op. 6 would be published only posthumously in 1714]. Vivaldi's concertos for two and four violins had some debts to these works, but his concertos for solo violin and orchestra did not have Corellian models to follow. The trumpet concertos by Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709) are an oft mentioned alternative model, but Vivaldi's skills at articulation and exhibitionism were unrivaled. The violin was capable of much greater subtlety than the trumpet.

Dissemination of Individual Works from Op. 3

The Concerti Op. 3 were so popular that the entire opus was reprinted in Amsterdam within a year. Other reprints followed in both London and Paris through 1751. Because of the cyclical rotation of different combinations of instruments from work to work individual pieces in Op. 3 led themselves to diverse uses. The basic organization is shown in the table. Parsed one way, it is a four-fold cycle of three works. The textures vary with the instrumentation.

Several works from Opus 3 took on lives of their own. Six works (indicated by an asterisk*) were transcribed by J. S. Bach, and there are faint clues that Bach may have transcribed them all. The concertos for two violins and cello were transcribed for organ.

  • G Minor Op. 3, No. 2 RV 578 (2 violins, violoncello)
  • A Major Op. 3, No. 5 RV 519 (2 violins, violoncello)*
  • A Minor Op. 3, No. 8 RV 522 (2 violins, violoncello)
  • D Minor Op. 3, No. 11 RV 565 (2 violins, violoncello)

Vivaldi's Op. 3 concertos for solo violin and orchestra became the basis for Bach's first harpsichord concertos.

  • G Major Op. 3, No. 3 RV 310 (principal violin)
  • A Minor Op. 3, No. 6 RV 356 (principal violin)
  • D Major Op. 3, No. 9 RV 230 (principal violin)*
  • E Major Op. 3, No. 12 RV 265 (principal violin)*

Only one of the works for four violins was recomposed--as a concerto for four harpsichords.

Apart from Bach's transcriptions, there was wide circulation of the music. Much of it was stimulated by John Walsh's edition of c. 1715, in which the order of Nos. 6-9 was altered such that these concertos became Nos. 8, 9, 6, and 7). The titles with as asterisk (*) above were transcribed for clavichord in a manuscript (Manchester UK) now known as Anne Dawson's Book. Numerous other transcriptions survive in Europe and North America.

CCARH Scores and Parts for Opus 3


CCARH cooperated with Dover Publications Inc. in producing the scores that appear in L'estro armonico: Twelve Concertos for Violins and String Orchestra, Op. 3. The cover is shown below.

The collection entitle L'estro armonico was the first title under Vivaldi's name to draw widespread attention. It is likely that some of the work had already been performed in selected gatherings. The were profusely copied, arranged, and reprinted (with numerous variants) over the next two decades.

Opus, Work No. Ryom No. Genre / Instrumentation Key PDF parts (CCARH/Dover edn.) Related pieces and transcriptions
Op. 3, No. 1 RV 549 Concerto / VVVV; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Vne, Cem D Major [1]
Op. 3, No. 2 RV 578 Concerto / VVVc; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Vne, Cem G Minor Example
Op. 3, No. 3 RV 310 Concerto / V; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Vne, Cem G Major Example JS Bach: BWV 978
Op. 3, No. 4 RV 550 Concerto / VVVV; V1,V2, Va, Vc, Vne, Cem E Minor Example
Op. 3, No. 5 RV 519* Concerto / VVVc; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Vne, Cem A Major Example Dawson transcription
Op. 3, No. 6 RV 356 Concerto / V; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Vne, Cem A Minor Example
Op. 3, No. 7 RV 567 Concerto / VVVV; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Vne, Cem F Major Example Dawson transcription
Op. 3, No. 8 RV 522 Concerto / VVVc; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Vne, Cem A Minor Example JS Bach: BWV 593 (Organ with two manuals and a pedalboard)
Op. 3, No. 9 RV 230* Concerto / V; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Vne, Cem D Major Example JS Bach: BWV 972, Dawson transcription
Op. 3, No. 10 RV 580 Concerto / VVVV; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Vne, Cem B Minor Example JS Bach: BWV 1065 (VVVV, Strings)
Op. 3, No. 11 RV 565 Concerto / VVVc; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Vne, Cem D Minor Example JS/WF Bach: BWV 596 (organ as above). String version (BWV 596/3) by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. Fugal subject from Benedetto Marcello, Op. 1, No. 2 (1708)
Op. 3, No. 12 RV 265 Concerto / V; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Vne, Cem C Major Example JS Bach BWV 976; Dawson transcription

Op. 4: La Stravaganza: Concerti in six parts

Vivaldi's violin concertos Op. 4 (announced in London on January 1, 1715) achieved a much broader penetration of the European market than any previous publication of his music. The collection, published in Amsterdam as Estienne Roger's prints Nos. 399 and 400, bore the title La Stravaganza (The Extravaganza), a designation popular at the time. In musical contexts it usually referred to chromatic harmonies, but in Vivaldi's case it forewarned prospective players of the challenges posed, epsecially for the principal violinist. (Up to this time, Roger had principally offered trio sonatas and concerti grossi, which were less demanding.)

Op. 4 was a compendium of virtuoso techniques that were popularized by Vivaldi, who, as a performer, was known far and wide for his daring. His near-peers in this regard were violinist-composers such as Tomaso Albinoni and Lodovico Madonis, but their most demanding works appeared some years later and were less widely distributed. Op. 4 was dedicated to a Venetian nobleman, Vettor Delfin, whose family were largely engaged in military affairs. With only one exception (Op. 4, No. 7), the concertos were written in three movements.

At the time Op. 4 appeared, Vivaldi had been filling holes left by the departure of Francesco Gasparini (1661-1727) at the Pietà. He was now turning his attention to motets and oratorios per force to bridge the gap left by Gasparini. It is therefore likely that most of these pieces were composed before the elder maestro's departure. Reprints of Op. 4 appeared in 1723, 1728, and 1730, but selected individual works enjoyed independent circulation. Vivaldi had now reached the point where demand for his instrumental music exceeded the amount of time he could afford to devote to it. It may be for this reasons that echoes of Op. 4 appear in a few later works by Vivaldi. Op. 7, No. 1, for example, was a first cousin of Op. 4, No. 9; mMyriad other variants of this set were quoted in later works. The cumulative effect was a splintering of work-identities that still confuse musicians today. Vivaldi himself adapted many of his works to suit new purposes as appropriate occasions arose.

Opus, Work No. Ryom No. Genre / Instrumentation Key Related works PDF Transcriptions by others
Op. 4, No. 1 RV 383a Concerto / VPr; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Org B Major RV 381, RV 383 PDF JS Bach: BWV 980, Dawson MS, ff. 14v-18r
Op. 4, No. 2 RV 279 Concerto / VPr; V1, V2, Va, VC, Org E Minor


Op. 4, No. 3 RV 381 Concerto / VPr; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Org G Major PDF Dawson MS. ff. 18v-21v
Op. 4, No. 4 RV 357 Concerto / VPr; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Org A Minor PDF Dawson MS, ff. 60r-63r
Op. 4, No. 5 RV 347 Concerto / VPr; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Org A Major PDF Dawson MS, ff. 69r-73r
Op. 4, No. 6 RV 316a Concerto / VPr; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Org G Minor RV 316 PDF JS Bach: BWV 975, Dawson MS, ff. 6v-10v
Op. 4, No. 7 RV 185 Concerto / VPr; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Org C Major
Op. 4, No. 8 RV 249 Concerto / VPr; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Org D Minor
Op. 4, No. 9 RV 284 Concerto / VPr; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Org F Major RV 285, RV 285a
Op. 4, No. 10 RV 196 Concerto / VPr; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Org C Minor Dawson MS, ff. 22r-25r
Op. 4, No. 11 RV 204 Concerto / VPr; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Org D Major Dawson MS, ff. 65r-68r
Op. 4, No. 12 RV 298 Concerto / VPr; V1, V2, Va, Vc, Org G Major RV 291, RV 357

[Dawson MS, ff. 50r-51r

Op. 5: VI Sonate/quatro à violino solo e basso e due a due violini e basso continuo

Four of the six sonatas of Op. 5, published in Amsterdam (1716) as Estienne Roger's print No. 418, may have been remainders of Vivaldi's Op. 2, which consisted entirely of solo sonatas. The two remaining works in this collection are trio sonatas. During the visit of the young Danish king Frederick Christian IV to Venice in the winter of 1709. a great many banquets and balls were planned. Easily half of them were canceled either hosts or guests because many people (including the doge and one of the Republic's official hosts) died. No autograph material for this opus survives. The works were not individually recirculated in later prints, nor did they generate any significant manuscript copies, apart from the first movement of Op. 5, No. 6, which was included in J. B. Cartier's L'Art du Violon (Paris, 1798).

Opus, Work No. Ryom No. Genre / Instrumentation Key Score
Op. 5, No. 1 RV 18 Sonata / V, BC F Major Example
Op. 5, No. 2 RV 30 Sonata / V, BC A Major Example
Op. 5, No. 3 RV 33 Sonata / V, BC Bb Major Example
Op. 5, No. 4 RV 35 Sonata / V, BC B Minor Example
Op. 5, No. 5 RV 76 Sonata / V1, V2, BC Bb Major Example
Op. 5, No. 6 RV 72 Sonata / V1, V2, BC G Minor Example

Op. 6: VI Concerti à cinque strumenti: 3 violini, alto viola, e basso continuo

The six concertos for violin and strings of Op. 6, published in Amsterdam between 1716 and 1721 by Jeanne Roger (as her firm's print No. 452) represent both a continuation and a departure. The instrumental requirements are identical to those of Op. 4: they require a principal violin and a small string orchestra. This short collection could have served as a supplement to Op. 4, given the pattern set by Opp. 2 and 5 (another short set). The absence of a dedicatee and sundry details of the music suggest that Vivaldi did not actively seek this publication and that the print was therefore unauthorized. Mme. Roger heralded Vivaldi's titles as maestro di violino and maestro di concerti at the Pietà.

Musically, five of the six works are in minor keys. Again forming a parallel with Op. 5, it was not followed by myriad other editions, although Le Cène brought out one (undated) reprint.

Opus, Work No. Ryom No. Genre / Instrumentation Key Score
Op. 6, No. 1 RV 324 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org G Minor Example
Op. 6, No. 2 RV 259 Converto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org C Minor Example
Op. 6, No. 3 RV 318 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org G Minor Example
Op. 6, No. 4 RV 216 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org D Major Example
Op. 6, No. 5 RV 280 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org E Minor Example
Op. 6, No. 6 RV 239 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org D Minor Example

Op. 7: Concerti a 5 strumenti: Tre violini, alto viola e basso continuo

Vivsaldi's 12 concertos a 5 (meaning three violins, viola, and basso continuo) were, like the works of Op. 6, planned with a violino principale for the solo episodes of the outer movements and the middle movement of three-movement works. These two opuses (6 and 7) were the first ones in which all the works contained three movements. One can see that Vivaldi's idea of concerto had evolved considerably over a decade. In contrast to Op. 6, he here introduced alternative scoring for an oboist instead of a principal violinist in Nos. xx and yy.

As scores passed through more hands and as Vivaldi himself branched out into new modes of musical expression, his concertos began to take on a life of their own. No. 1 was revised by Johann Pisendel (cf. RV 370), who played a significant role in performing and preserving Vivaldi's music in the Dresden Hofkapelle. No. 9 found a new life in a version for oboe and strings (RV 460), published as Op. 11, No. 6. No. 10 was nicknamed "Il Ritiro." No. 11 ("Il Grosso Mogul") was published with a different middle movement (RV 208a) in Walsh & Hare's anthology Select Harmony (1730). Many of the works may have been composed considerably earlier than their print dates suggest, and in the case of this pair RV 208 is conjecturally from before 1710, its alternative arrangement from not later than 1720. One manuscript copy of the earlier work incudes a written cadanza. It was also transcribed by J. S. Bach for organ as BWV 594. Parts and/or scores for five of the works are preserved in early copies in the Sächsische Landesbibliothek, Dresden, while other early versions are found in manuscripts in Manchester (UK) and Trondheim (Norway), among other locations.

Bb Major Concerto Op. 7, No. 1 RV 465

C Major Concerto Op. 7, No. 2 RV 188

G Minor Concerto Op. 7, No. 3 RV 326 Bb Major RV 370

A Minor Concerto Op. 7, No. 4 RV 354

F Major Concerto Op. 7, No. 5 RV 285a F Major RV 285 3

Bb MajorConcerto Op. 7, No. 6 RV 374

Bb MajorConcerto Op. 7, No. 7 RV 464

G Major Concerto Op. 7, No. 8 RV 299

Bb MajorConcerto Op. 7, No. 9 RV 373

F Major Concerto Op. 7, No. 10 RV 294a F Major RV 294

D Major Concerto Op. 7, No. 11 RV 208a BWV 594 (organ)

D Major Concerto Op. 7, No. 12 RV 214

Op. 8: Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'invenzione: Concerti a quattro e cinque

Vivaldi's most famous opus was published in Amsterdam by Michel Charles Le Cène in 1725. It is clear, though, that various portions of sundry works had been written earlier. What was perhaps new was the formalization of the scheme, complete with the texts of the sonnets with which they were coordinated, of the first four concertos--The Four Seasons. These works, and their cyclical organization, captured the imagination of many and led to a "Four Seasons" industry of arrangements performances that extends to the current day.

Unlike other opuses that postdated Vivaldi's move to Mantua, this one resumed the practice of dedicating the collection to a nobleman, in this case Venceslas, count of Morzin (also Morcin, spelled Marzin in the print itself). (Two concertos known only in manuscript, RV 449 and 496, were also dedicated to the count. He was Bohemian with townhouses in Prague and Vienna. He was an occasional patron of Venetian opera. Prague, the capital of Bohemia, was a thriving city was rapidly developing enterprises focused on opera and on the development of string music. One can see how poetic justice prevailed in this dedication: Bohemians not only loved music but were happy to master its component parts.

This opus was more popular in France than anywhere else. Parisian reprints issued from the presses of Madame Boivin (c. 1739, 1743, 1748). Manuscripts were widely circulated. Rearrangements of portions of the opus were opus also proliferated. In Dresden, the orchestration of some works was enriched by Johann Pisendel, who also elaborated some of the articulation.

In the works as a set, major keys predominate. Nos. 7, 9, AND 11 are known in alternative versions. The final of movement of Op. 8, No. 11 presents a particularly complex web of revisions to the alternation of tutti and solo.

E Major (Spring) Concerto Op. 8, N. 1 RV 269

G Minor (Summer) Concerto Op. 8, N. 2 RV 315

F Major (Autumn) Concerto Op. 8, N. 3 RV 293

F Minor (Winter) Concerto Op. 8, N. 4 RV 297

Eb Major Concerto Op. 8, N. 5 RV 253

C Major Concerto Op. 8, N. 6 RV 180

D Minor Concerto Op. 8, N. 7 RV 242

G Minor Concerto Op. 8, N. 7a RV 242a

D Minor Concerto Op. 8, N. 8 RV 332

Bb Major (The Hunt) Concerto Op. 8 N. 9 RV 236

D Major Concerto Op. 8, No. 9a RV 454

C Major Concerto Op. 8, N. 10 RV 362

D Major Concerto Op. 8, N. 11 RV 210

D Major Concerto Op. 8, N. 11a RV 210

C Major Concerto Op. 8, No. 12 RV 178

CCARH Parts for Op. 8

The following parts for Antonio Vivaldi's Op.8 concerti accompany the full score available from Dover Publications:

  • Vivaldi, Antonio. "The Four Seasons" and Other Violin Concertos in Full Score; Opus 8, Complete. Ed. by Eleanor Selfridge-Field. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications; 1995. ISBN 0-486-28638-X.
Opus, Work No. Ryom No. Genre / Instrumentation Key Nickname; Related works Parts
Op. 8, No. 1 RV 269 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org E Major "La Primavera" ("Spring") parts
Op. 8, No. 2 RV 315 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org G Minor "L'Estate" ("Summer") parts
Op. 8, No. 3 RV 293 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org F Major "L'Autunno" ("Autumn") parts
Op. 8, No. 4 RV 297 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org F Minor "L'Inverno" ("Winter") parts
Op. 8, No. 5 RV 253 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org in E Major "La Tempesta de Mare" ("The Storm at Sea") parts
Op. 8, No. 6 RV 180 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org C Major "Il Piacere ("Pleasure") parts
Op. 8, No. 7 RV 242 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org D Minor RV 242a parts
Op. 8, No. 8 RV 332 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org G Minor parts
Op. 8, No. 9 RV 236 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org D Minor RV 454 parts
Op. 8, No. 10 RV 362 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org B Major "La Caccia" ("The Hunt") parts
Op. 8, No. 11 RV 210 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org D Major RV 210a, B. Marcello Op. 1, No. 8 parts
Op. 8, No. 12 RV 178 Concerto / VPr; V1 V2 Va Vc Org C Major parts

Op. 9: La cetra. Concerti

Vivaldi Concertos Op. 9, published in Amsterdam by Michel Charles Le Cène in Vols. 533 and 534 (datable from 1727), have the distinction of having been dedicated to the emperor Charles VI. The two met two years later in Trieste, where the emperor was more enraptured by Vivaldi's music and intelligence with which he discussed it than with the diplomatic matters at hand. (Op. 9 is easily confused with a contemporary set of twelve unpublished concertos for violin also called "La Cetra.")

The works of Op. 9 were not so widely circulated as those of other recent volumes of Vivaldi's music. The popularity of the Four Seasons seems, in fact, to have the effect of blinding the public to all of Vivaldi's future prints. Three of the works were known in alternative versions.

C Major Op. 9, No. 1 RV 181a

C Major RV 180

A Major Op. 9, No. 2 RV 375

G Minor Op. 9, No. 3 RV 334

E Major Op. 9, No. 4 RV 263a

E Major RV 263

A Minor Op. 9, No. 5 RV 358

A Major Op. 9, No. 6 RV 348

Bb Major Op. 9, No. 7 RV 359

D Minor Op. 9, No. 8 RV 238

Bb Major Op. 9, No. 9 RV 530

G Major Op. 9, No. 10 RV 300

C Minor Op. 9, No. 11 RV 198a

C Minor RV 198

G Major Op. 9, No. 12 RV 391

Op. 10: VI Concerti a flauto traverso

Six Concertos for Flute and String Orchestra, Op. 10; Related Variants

As published, Vivaldi's Opus 10 is a straightforward collection of concertos for flute and string orchestra. Most works which originally called for obbligato flutes seem to have originated during the early 1720s, perhaps reflecting opportunities that Vivaldi encountered in Rome, where he stayed intermittently between c. 1719 and 1724. Although the transverse flute was then little known in Italy, the availability of an excellent player is was essential for the execution of several of his works for it.

Opus 10 appeared in 1729, in rough coincidence with Vivaldi's violin concertos Opp. 11 and 12, but most of the work are likely to have composed years earlier. All three volumes were published in Amsterdam. Although published set was designed for a market oriented towards a standardized, relatively neutral instrumentation, the origins of the individual works were heterogeneous. The indications suggested by the related concertos listed on the lower half of the chart do not include subtle differences of instrumental alternatives and/or pairings--for example, an independent oboe part vs. an oboe part duplicating a second violin, a separate cello part vs. an unspecified Basso, and so forth. These are among the kinds of details that have necessitated separate listings for works that are musically similar. One manuscript source for No. 3 is scored for recorder rather than violin.

The transverse flute and the recorder were both associated with a certain freedom of timbral choice. The so-called chamber concertos (RV 570, 90, and 101) for flute (or recorder), oboe, bassoon, violin, and bass can be understood to signify this sense of free play, rather than to represent a sub-genre cast in concrete. Although Vivaldi's chamber concertos had few analogues during Vivaldi's lifetime, they paved the way to a rich chamber repertory in the later eighteenth century.

Opus, Work No. Ryom No. Genre / Instrumentation Key Nickname Parts
Op. 10, No. 1 RV 433 Concerto / Flute; V1 V2 Va Vc BC F Major "The Sea Tempest" parts
Op. 10, No. 2 RV 439 Concerto / Flute; V1 V2 Va Vc BC G Minor "Night" parts
Op. 10, No. 3 RV 428 Concerto / Flute; V1 V2 Va Vc BC D Major "The Goldfinch" parts
Op. 10, No. 4 RV 435 Concerto / Flute; V1 V2 Va Vc BC G Major parts
Op. 10, No. 5 RV 434 Concerto / Flute; V1 V2 Va Vc BC F Major parts
Op. 10, No. 6 RV 437 Concerto / Flute; V1 V2 Va Vc BC G Major parts
Related concertos
Unpublished RV 444 Concerto / Sopranino Recorder; V1 V2 Va Vc Bn C Major parts
Op. 10, No. 1 (alt.) RV 570 Concerto / Flute, Oboe, Bassoon; VPr V1 V2 Va BC F Major parts
Op. 10, No. 2 (alt.) RV 501 Concerto / Bassoon; V1 V2 Va BC B Major parts
Op. 10, No. 3 (alt.) RV   90 Concerto / Flute, Oboe, Violin and Bassoon D Major parts
Op. 10, No. 5 (alt.) RV 442 Concerto / Recorder; V1 V2 Va BC F Major parts
Op. 10, No. 6 (alt.) RV 101  Concerto / Flute, Oboe, Violin, Bassoon, BC G Major parts

The first three works are the best known ones of the collection, but their nicknames accrued over time. Their programmatic allusions are largely confirmed in associated manuscripts. Storms at sea and phantoms of the night (the images cultivated by the first two pieces) were staples of opera staging at Venice's Teatro Sant'Angelo, the Venetian theater with which Vivaldi and his father were most consistently associated. Both played a prominent role in Venetian scene paintings contemporary with Vivaldi.

The representation of sleep in the fourth movement of Op 10, No. 2, is illustrative of a fascination with dreams and the supernatural that was probed cautiously on the stage because of the pervasive scrutiny of religious censors. However, the dramatization of darkness fed Sant'Angelo's penchant for grottoes and grotesque scenes. It is darkness that the bassoon invokes in the manuscript RV 501 (the loose analogue of No. 2), where the the key is Bb Major rather than G Minor.

Vivaldi's depictions of bird-calls (in Op. 10, No. 3 a bullfinch) were prevalent not only in his concertos but also in his operas, and in dozens of works by other composers of the time. Also elsewhere they often suggested the formal gardens that were so much promoted by the aristocracy, in Vivaldi's case they are more often a natural depiction of bucolic habitats consistent with the imagery of Arcadian shepherds than of programmed landscapes abroad.

The sopranino recorder concerto RV 444 is a unique work among Vivaldi's oeuvre, although it could easily have been adapted to a different soloist. It would have suited a virtuoso of considerable renown.

The parts provided here correspond to the Dover Publication entitled Six Concertos for Flute and String Orchestra, Op. 10, and Related Variants.

Op. 11: Sei concerti

In Opp. 11 and 12 Vivaldi returned to the practice of publishing six works at a time. His earlier 12-work prints are usually presented as two books of six, but there were practical benefits to grouping the works into two sets. Opp. 11 and 12 appear to be cut from the same cloth and may have been intended as a single publication. They appeared with consecutive print numbers (Nos. 545, 546) from presses of Michel Charles Le Cène in 1729. In comparison to all of Vivaldi's music printed since 1711 they were poorly circulated.

Opus, Work No. Ryom number Genre / Instrumentation Key Related works Score
Op. 11, No. 1 RV 207 Concerto / D Major Example
Op. 11, No. 2 RV 277 Concerto / E Minor Nicknamed "Il Favorito"
Op. 11, No. 3 RV 336 Concerto / A Major Example
Op. 11, No. 4 RV 308 Concerto / G Major Example
Op. 11, No. 5 RV 202 Concerto / G Minor Example
Op. 11, No. 6 RV 260 Concerto / C Minor Op. 9, No. 3 (RV 334)

Op. 12: Sei concerti

Vivaldi six concertos Op. 12 (1729) represent the final printed publication of his music.

Opus, Work No. Ryom number Genre / Instrumentation Key Score
Op. 12, No. 1 RV 317 Concerto / G Minor Example
Op. 12, No. 2 RV 244 Concerto / D Minor Example
Op. 12, No. 3 RV 124 Concerto / D Major Example
Op. 12, No. 4 RV 173 Concerto / C Major Example
Op. 12, No. 5 RV 379 Concerto / Bb Major Example
Op. 12, No. 6 RV 361 Concerto / Bb Major Example

Unpublished instrumental works

The number of Vivaldi's unpublished instrumental pieces greatly exceeds those that were printed in the composer's lifetime. They generally follow the same lines and populate the same genres of sonata and concerto. The two most conspicuous differences between the published and unpublished works are that dates of composition are more difficult to pin down for the manuscript works and nearly all of the works with obbligato wind parts were never published.

Why were works with obbligato winds not published in Vivaldi's time? The demand for works with wind parts was much lower, while learning to play the violin was a popular activity among noblemen. Numerous accounts of special occasions note the addition of local amateur players to orchestras for serenatas and sinfonias. Learning to play a bowed instrument conferred a certain prestige on the fledgling performer.

In Italy wind instruments, which were not readily available, were required in music for particular kinds of ceremonies or scenes in operas. Nasal reeds, such as the oboe, were used in funeral music or to signify impending doom. Recorders and cross-flutes were associated with peasants and with dancing. Bassoons could signify the underworld. Among brasses, trumpets had been used discreetly to represent military advances and triumphs since before Vivaldi was born, but their appearances were few.

Vivaldi's interactions with musicians from north of the Alps provided him with incentives to score parts for oboes, bassoons, recorders, cross-flutes, and other novel instruments. He also adapted some of his concertos with a wind instrument instead of a principal violin. Op. 10 is the only print that shows off his wind interests here, but the menu of works related to that set of six (grouped here with Op. 10) show the latitude (or lack therefore) in adaptations.

Yet in Italy the idea of using these different timbres together with strings was one that remained somewhat foreign at the end of Vivaldi's life. In his operas, winds were usually deployed in pairs. Quite often their use was limited to opening performances, when entrance fees were higher. Because their players were paid one night at a time, the wind parts did not always survive. Modern editions represent optimal versions of the work at hand, but the fact that many wind parts have only one or two solo episodes in an entire work and otherwise double string parts allows for some latitude in interpretation and some accommodation of strained circumstances.


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