Lockdown Lesson 2

The Four Seasons
Le quattro stagioni

written by Antonio Vivaldi, between 1716-1717

Introduction


The Four Seasons (Le quattro stagioni) is series of four violin concerti by the Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi.

A concerto is a set of musical compositions written for a solo instrument accompanied by orchestra. In a violin concerto, the violin is the soloist. The word ‘concerto’ comes from the Latin word for ‘competition’ or ‘battle’, so a violin concerto is like a battle between the violin and the orchestra, in which they are both competing for dominance.

The violin is a cordophone (string instrument, which makes its noise by vibrating a string). Along with the viola, ‘cello and double bass, it makes up the violin family of instruments which make up the string section of an orchestra. Because it is the smallest of this family, it makes the highest sound. Its strings can be made from animal intestines (‘catgut’) or plastics, and it is mostly played with a bow made from horsehair. Sometimes you might hear a violin called a fiddle instead. Some violins have electric versions which, like an electric guitar, can be made much louder and or run through special sound effects.

The Four Seasons is a type of program music (music which tells a story or paints a picture with sound). As you can tell from the title, each concerto is based on a different season – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Each of those concerti consists of three movements (three individual pieces, fast-slow-fast), so there are 12 short pieces in total. Each concerto can be found below. Before you watch them, please download the following worksheet and have a look at the questions.

Here are the four concerti!

1:

2:

3:

4:

Once you’ve finished your worksheet, please click here to check your answers!