The Four Seasons (Vivaldi)
The Four Seasons (Italian: Le quattro stagioni) is a set of four violin concertos by Antonio Vivaldi. Composed in 1723, The Four Seasons is Vivaldi's best-known work, and is among the most popular pieces of baroque music. The texture of each concerto is varied, each resembling its respective season. For example, "Winter" is peppered with silvery pizzicato notes from the high strings, calling to mind icy rain, whereas "Summer" evokes a thunderstorm in its final movement, which is why the movement is often called "Storm"[by whom?].
The concertos were first published in 1725 as part of a set of twelve concerti, Vivaldi's Op. 8, entitled Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione (The Contest Between Harmony and Invention). The first four concertos were designated Le quattro stagioni, each being named after a season. Each one is in three movements, with a slow movement between two faster ones. At the time of writing The Four Seasons, the modern solo form of the concerto had not yet been defined (typically a solo instrument and accompanying orchestra). Vivaldi's original arrangement for solo violin with string quartet and basso continuo helped to define the form of the concerto.
List of concertos and movements 
- Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, "La primavera" (Spring)
- Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315, "L'estate" (Summer)
- Concerto No. 3 in F major, Op. 8, RV 293, "L'autunno" also known as the "Danza Pastorale" (Autumn)
- Adagio molto
- Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, "L'inverno" (Winter)
- Allegro non molto
Sonnets and allusions 
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The four concertos were written to accompany four sonnets. Though it is not known who wrote these sonnets, there is a theory that Vivaldi wrote them himself, given that each sonnet is broken down into three sections, neatly corresponding to a movement in the concerto. Whoever wrote the sonnets, The Four Seasons may be classified as program music, instrumental music that intends to evoke something extra-musical.
In addition to these sonnets, Vivaldi provided instructions such as "The barking dog" (in the second movement of "Spring"), "Languor caused by the heat" (in the first movement of "Summer"), and "the drunkards have fallen asleep" (in the second movement of "Autumn"). The Four Seasons is used in the 1981 film The Four Seasons along with other Vivaldi concertos for flute.
The Four Seasons by Vivaldi 
The first recording of The Four Seasons is a matter of some dispute. There is a compact disc of one made by the violinist Alfredo Campoli which is taken from acetates of a French radio broadcast; these are thought to date from early in 1939. The first proper electrical recording was made in 1942 by Bernardino Molinari, and though his adaptation is somewhat different from what we have come to expect from modern performances, it is clearly recognisable. This first recording by Molinari was made for Cetra, issued in Italy and subsequently in the United States on six double-sided 78s in the 1940s. It was then reissued on long-playing album in 1950, and was once again reissued on compact disc.
Not surprisingly, further recordings followed. The next was in 1948 by the violinist Louis Kaufman, mistakenly credited as the 'first' recording, made during the night in New York using 'dead' studio time and under pressure from a forthcoming musicians strike. The performers were The Concert Hall Chamber Orchestra under Henry Swoboda, Edith Weiss-Mann (harpsichord) and Edouard Nies-Berger (organ). This recording helped the re-popularisation of Vivaldi's music in the mainstream repertoire of Europe and America following on the work done by Molinari and others in Italy. It won the French Grand Prix du Disque in 1950, was elected to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002, and in 2003 was selected for the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress. Kaufman, intrigued to learn that the four concertos were in fact part of a set of twelve, set about finding a full score and eventually recorded the other eight concertos in Zürich in 1950, making his the first recording of Vivaldi's complete Op. 8.
I Musici followed in 1955 with the first of several recordings of The Four Seasons with different soloists. The 1955 set with Felix Ayo was that ensemble's first recording of any music; subsequent I Musici recordings feature Felix Ayo again in 1959, Roberto Michelucci in 1969, Pina Carmirelli in 1982, Federico Agostini in 1990, and Mariana Sîrbu in 1995. The 1969 recording by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Neville Marriner, featuring soloist Alan Loveday, reputedly moved the piece from the realm of esoterica to that of program and popular staple.
Nigel Kennedy's 1989 recording of The Four Seasons with the English Chamber Orchestra sold over two million copies, becoming one of the best-selling classical works ever. Gil Shaham and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra recorded The Four Seasons as well as a music video for the first movement of "Winter" that was featured regularly on The Weather Channel in the mid-1990s.
The World's Encyclopedia of Recorded Music in 1952 cites only two recordings of The Four Seasons – by Molinari and Kaufman. By 2011 approximately 1,000 different recorded versions have been made since Campoli's in 1939.
Derivative works 
In 1765 the French composer Michel Corrette composed and published a choral motet, Laudate Dominum de Coelis, subtitled "Motet à Grand Chœur arrangé dans le Concerto de Printemps de Vivaldi". The work, for choir and orchestra, consists of the words of Psalm 116 set to the music from Vivaldi's Spring movement with vocal soloists singing the solo concerto parts.
In 2012, the German-born British composer Max Richter created a postmodern and minimalist recomposition released as "Recomposed Vivaldi – The Four Seasons". Working with solo violinist Daniel Hope, Richter discarded around 75% of the original source material while the running time was reduced to 44 minutes playing time.
- Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra program notes.
- Pearl GEMM CD 9151
- Two versions are available, one with more extensive sleeve notes giving the political background and history of the work's rediscovery issued by Ermitage ERC CD 12006-2.
- Concert Hall Records, CHS. set AR; reissued on Naxos Historical 8.110297-98.
- #CHS.CHC 1064 (#Nix.CLP 1061-1/2)
- Norman Lebrecht. The Life and Death of Classical Music. New York: Anchor Books, 2007, ISBN 978-1-4000-9658-9, p. 219.
- Wright, Steve (23 August 1999). "Not quite Vivaldi: Nigel Kennedy remembers Hendrix". CNN.
- Hopkins, Translated by Bill (1970). Antonio Vivaldi; his life and work. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-520-01629-3.
- "Album: Max Richter, Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, Recomposed By Max Richter (Deutsche Grammophon)". Independent. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: The Four Seasons (Vivaldi)|
- The Four Seasons: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Free scores of The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi at Mutopia Project nau.edu/ BinAural Collaborative Hypertext]
- An in-depth overview and comparison of recordings of the Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi on WETA 90.9's website
- Program notes on the Four Seasons on Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's website