Antonio Vivaldi. Concerto Number 3 in F (Autumn) from the Four Seasons

The Four Seasons actually come from a group of twelve concertos that Vivaldi called “The Contest Between Harmony and Invention.” The twelve are referenced as Opus 8, but they actually date from Vivaldi’s 60s, almost at the end of his career. The reason for this lies in the fact that no one knows exactly how many works Vivaldi composed.


Vivaldi today ranks as one of the most popular of all composers, probably based on these four concerti. In fact, he was probably the most prolific composer ever, though ironically, he was virtually unknown until the 1920s. He had been ordained a priest but never took up the duties of his office, instead becoming the violin master of a girl’s orphanage in Venice. He flourished there and under his guidance, the school became “the” place in Venice to listen to music. There he composed prodigiously, churning out some 400 concertos for solo instruments, 46 operas, and scores of sacred and secular works. Unfortunately in his later years, the Church took action against Vivaldi for not performing his priestly duties (it was rumored he had two mistresses) and his contract with the school was not renewed. In addition, a wealthy patron died and Vivaldi ended up penniless and was buried in a pauper’s grave.

After he died, a count purchased the manuscripts of Vivaldi’s works from the orphanage, and gave strict instructions in his will that the works must never be published or performed. After nearly 200 years, the will was challenged and overturned and in the late 1920 the world began to hear the sweet music once again.

The Four Seasons is one of those “background” pieces that I heard at an early age. It melodies are woven into the very fabric of Western culture. There is something about it that, for me at least, never makes me regard it as hackneyed, though it gets played to death. Whenever I hear it, I am always surprised at how Vivaldi captured the joy and awe that everyone has felt at one time or another before Nature. For me, each new season, brings a sense of wonder as I see the earth born, mature, die and reborn again through the changing weather, flora, fauna and human activity.

When I first wrote this piece, some 14 years ago, I had intended to write more, but instead my daughter, Simone, and I made a peach pie, with the last peaches of the season. Afterwards, we read a chapter from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone out loud. As the weather had coincidentally just turned cold, we cuddled up together on the couch. When we had finished, Simone went to get ready for bed and I made my way to the computer. After writing a few sentences, from upstairs, I heard her calling me: “Dad, Wally has a tick.” Our cat had spent the previous night outdoors and since we’d had so much rain that fall, the insects and arachnids were having a late summer population explosion. So I had to go in search of tweezers, magnifying glass, and eventually cat, because he had run under the bed in fear when he realized our intent. But we plucked the evil arthropod from his cheek, and, as he later twined his way among my legs, I think forgave me.

Simone’s now 23 and is finishing up college in the spring.  I can’t believe how time flew by and I wish I was still sitting with her on the couch reading Harry Potter out loud and petting our cat, who passed away in 2011.  Or eating a piece of that peach pie.  Cherish those times and every moment as you live it.

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About kurtnemes
Writer and Education Professional. Specialties include Ethics, Personal Memoir, Classical music, Tai Chi, Stress Reduction, Meditation, Coping, Classical Music, Aging, Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity (& what interests me.)

8 Responses to Antonio Vivaldi. Concerto Number 3 in F (Autumn) from the Four Seasons

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post, I also like to listen to Vivaldi in every season of the year, each time it gives something new, perhaps the music is the same, it is just one’s emotion changes, from time to time ….. hence the feeling for the music changes, but they are always touching music.

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  2. Gallivanta says:

    Yes, how time fies by, season by season. I have bought very few pieces of recorded music but one of the first I bought was Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I knew nothing about him or the music at the time. I bought it because I liked it. Now, off to play the youtube clip for the fifth time tonight.

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  3. Gallivanta says:

    When I first learned ,about a year ago, of Vivaldi and his work at the orphanage, I was reminded, for some reason, of these performers http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=wUjwDNq5qmQ I suppose the connection is the power of music to transform lives. I saw them perform twice in Cairo; a privilege.

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    • kurtnemes says:

      Thanks for the link to the blind women’s orchestra of Cairo. What an inspiration! In many countries having a disability is seen as something shameful and even here in the US it’s often seen as a limitation–they are dis- able to be like the rest of us. This orchestra shows how limiting that notion is. These women do twice the work of a sighted musician–they have to memorize the piece and play it, while sighted orchestras have the music in front of them. Awesome!

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  4. Diana says:

    Lovely. My girls are all grown up, too… it goes so unbelievably fast, though I never thought so while it was happening !

    (Now they are my good friends, know how to tease me better than anybody, and make me laugh more than anybody !)

    I have a ton of Vivaldi, I always associate music with seasons (+ try to only listen in the appropriate season.) That he died unknown and impoverished seems to be an all too common ending for artist’s stories. It breaks my heart a little, whenever I read that.

    As for the music itself; so accessible, often joyous, always fantastic. Easy to understand why it is now ubiquitous.

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  5. Diana says:

    PS: I see lots of tags and categories. 🙂 Good work. Now, to conquer the obscure directions regarding webmaster tools, and showing uo in Google and Bing. 🙂

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    • kurtnemes says:

      Thanks. Once I took your advice and started searching for other classical music blogs on WordPress and liking and commenting on them, my stats went way up. :-O Much more inspired to keep going. Best

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