Free 15 Minute Lesson about Antonio Vivaldi’s famous Violin Concerto
We are now in the middle of winter, and now seems like the perfect time to pull out Antonio Vivaldi’s beautiful “Winter” from the Four Seasons. Have you heard it before?
Here is a little lesson you can use in your school week to introduce your children ( and perhaps you!) to an absolutely gorgeous work of music ( I have free printable to help at the end too!)
Antonio Vivaldi: Winter
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (born March 4, 1678, Venice, Italy – died July 28, 1741, Vienna, Austria) was an Italian composer. He was taught at a young age to play the violin by his Father, and the two of them would often perform together.
Antonio continued to study and learn the violin as you grew older, even after he became a priest. He was known as the “Red Priest” because he had flaming red hair!
Soon after becoming a priest, Antonio had to stop going to Mass because of his very bad asthma. After that, he began spending all his time teaching and writing music. He taught and composed for a girls orphanage, where many of his compositions were written and performed by the girls in the orphanage. People came from miles around to hear his music, played by the talented girls he had taught. Many people think Antonio Vivaldi was one of the greatest Italian composers of his time.
He wrote over 500 Concertos ( Music composed for a solo instrument accompanied by an orchestra) as well as Church music, operas, and many other kinds of music. His most famous work is his concertos about the four seasons.
Winter: A Concerto for Solo Violin and Orchestra
Antonio Vivaldi’s most famous works were his 4 violin concertos about the 4 seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
These concertos are based off of four poems which are rumored to have been written by Vivaldi himself! The Four Seasons concertos are the earliest form of “Program Music”, which is music that is supposed to make you think of certain places, things, or events.
There are three separate parts to the Winter Concerto. You can listen to them all below (NOTE: I chose these videos because the soloist and orchestra is playing on authentic Baroque era instruments. So interesting to watch!)
1) First Movement: Allegro Con Molto
In the first movement of Winter, “Allegro Con Molto” ( Which means fast with motion), the icy rain and cold make everyone shiver and stomp their feet, trying to keep warm. Teeth are chattering when the terribly cold wind comes and whips around them!
As you listen to this movement, you will hear short, crisp notes played by the orchestra, symbolizing the cold, icy weather. The fast solo violin reminds you of the wind coming in and swirling around anyone who is outside in the freezing weather!
2) Second Movement: Largo
The second movement of Winter, “Largo” ( Which means it is played slowly), simply creates a picture of being warm and cozy by the fire, while the freezing rain soaks everything outside.
As you listen to this movement, notice the beautiful violin solo; it’s gentle, warm and happy ( Like being by a fireplace!). behind it you can hear the rest of the orchestra playing pizzicato ( pizzicato is when the musician plucks the strings with their fingers instead of playing with the bow), which sounds like rain falling outside.
3) Third Movement: Allegro
In the third movement of Winter(“Allegro”), the townspeople venture outside, but have to be careful not to slip on the icy ground, as they don’t want to fall! Anyone who hurries slips on the ice, but quickly gets up again in case the ice cracks underneath them! The wind is whistling, but there is joy in everyone’s heart because of the beautiful season!
As you listen to this movement, listen to the very beginning: Doesn’t it sound like footsteps? Then every few notes there is a slight “hiccup” note, symbolizing slipping on the icy street!
Below is the original poem for the concerto:
“Frozen and shivering in the icy snow, In the severe blasts of a terrible wind To run stamping one’s feet each moment, One’s teeth chattering through the cold.
To spend quiet and happy times by the fire While outside the rain soaks everyone.
To walk on the ice with tentative steps, Going carefully for fear of falling. To go in haste, slide, and fall down to the ground, To go again on the ice and run, In case the ice cracks and opens. To hear leaving their iron-gated house Sirocco, Boreas, and all the winds in battle— This is winter, but it brings joy.”
I hope you enjoyed this music appreciation lesson on Vivaldi’s “Winter” concerto! If you need to stretch out the listening of this concerto over a couple days, or have it playing in the background for younger children while they play, that still counts as music appreciation.
Here is a printable worksheet for your children to use while they listen- totally optional, but it certainly adds a good element to listening!
Did you like this lesson? I’d love to know if it was helpful for you!
If you would like a full printable course of ALL 4 of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, you can get the full printable course HERE.
No musical experience necessary; just print and start listening!