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  • Light, bright, and cheerful.

  • It's some of the most familiar of all early 18th century music.

  • It's been featured in uncounted films and television commercials,

  • but what is it and why does it sound that way?

  • This is the opening of "Spring" from "The Four Seasons,"

  • by Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi.

  • "The Four Seasons" are famous in part because they are a delight to the ear.

  • However, even more notable

  • is the fact that they have stories to tell.

  • At the time of their publication in Amsterdam in 1725,

  • they were accompanied by poems

  • describing exactly what feature of that season

  • Vivaldi intended to capture in musical terms.

  • In providing specific plot content for instrumental music,

  • Vivaldi was generations ahead of his time.

  • If one were to read the poems simultaneously to hearing the music,

  • one would find the poetic scenes

  • synchronizing nicely with the musical imagery.

  • We are told that the birds welcome spring with happy song,

  • and here they are doing exactly that.

  • Soon, however, a thunderstorm breaks out.

  • Not only is there musical thunder and lightning,

  • there are also more birds,

  • wet, frightened, and unhappy.

  • In "Summer," the turtle dove sings her name "tortorella" in Italian,

  • before a hail storm flattens the fields.

  • "Autumn" brings eager hunters dashing out in pursuit of their prey.

  • The "Winter" concerto begins with teeth chattering in the cold

  • before one takes refuge by a crackling fire.

  • Then it's back out into the storm

  • where there'll be slips and falls on the ice.

  • In these first weeks of winter, the old year is coming to a close,

  • and so does Vivaldi's musical exploration of the seasons.

  • Not until the early 19th century

  • would such expressive instrumental program music, as it was known,

  • become popular.

  • By then, larger, more varied ensembles were the rule

  • with woodwinds, brass, and percussion to help tell the tale.

  • But Vivaldi pulled it off with just one violin, strings, and a harpsichord.

  • Unlike his contemporary Bach,

  • Vivaldi wasn't much interested in complicated fugues.

  • He preferred to offer readily accessible entertainment to his listeners

  • with melodies that pop back up later in a piece

  • to remind us of where we've been.

  • So the first movement of the "Spring" concerto begins with a theme for spring

  • and ends with it, too, slightly varied from when it was last heard.

  • It was an inspired way to attract listeners,

  • and Vivaldi,

  • considered one of the most electrifying violinists of the early 18th century,

  • understood the value of attracting audiences.

  • Such concerts might feature himself as the star violinist.

  • Others presented the young musicians of the Pietà,

  • a Venetian girls' school where Vivaldi was Director of Music.

  • Most of the students were orphans.

  • Music training was intended not only as social skills suitable for young ladies

  • but also as potential careers

  • for those who might fail to make good marriages.

  • Even in the composer's own time,

  • Vivaldi's music served as diversion for all,

  • not just for the wealthy aristocrats.

  • 300 years later, it's an approach that still works,

  • and Vivaldi's music still sounds like trotting horses on the move.

Light, bright, and cheerful.


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B1 中級

TED-ED】ヴィヴァルディの「四季」を聴くべき理由とは?- ベッツィ・シュワーム (【TED-Ed】Why should you listen to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons"? - Betsy Schwarm)

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    Kristi Yang に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日