Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons—a collection of four violin concertos from 1725—do not need a special introduction, as they were and are some of the most famous pieces by the Italian composer and constitute a revolutionary moment in musical history. With them, Vivaldi introduced and evolved what is now termed “program music,” a form of composition that captures a narrative using descriptive and pictorial elements, often expressing scenes and sounds from nature and daily activity.
Vivaldi even accompanied his four concertos with four sonnets, each having three stanzas that correspond with the musical imagery the composition conveys.
As autumn has come, let us listen to Vivaldi’s rendering of that season, its atmosphere, and activities. The special recording we have selected is performed by Apollo’s Fire – The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, an extraordinary ensemble of ancient music played on period instruments under Grammy-Award-winning conductor Jeannette Sorrell.
Autumn, 1st movement - Allegro Celebrates the peasant, with songs and dances, The pleasure of a bountiful harvest. And fired up by Bacchus' liquor, many end their revelry in sleep.
Autumn, 2nd movement - Adagio molto 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.
Autumn, 3rd movement - Allegro The hunters emerge at the new dawn, And with horns and dogs and guns depart upon their hunting The animal flees and they follow its trail; Terrified and tired of the great noise Of guns and dogs, the animal, wounded, threatens Languidly to flee, but harried, dies.
The Four Seasons (Vivaldi) on Wikipedia
Apollo’s Fire home page