The righteous red-headed priest

Vivaldi – Gloria

Antonio Vivaldi is my hero. Not so much for his music but his life. His music is okay but it can become a little old after awhile. In the words of Liszt, Vivaldi wrote a great concerto — seven hundred times. His music sounds too homogeneous. But, there may be a very good reason for it.

My hero, who was also a priest, ministered for a good portion of his adult life at the Ospedale della Pieta.  It was a home for orphaned and abandoned girls. It also had music school for them. That was the main reason the church sent it Vivalid, one of the best composers of the day. The Red Priest (Tony’s nickname) would write his concerti for whichever instrument played  by the best soloist de jeur.  His compositions were very functional. It was created for a very specific purpose. Provide a series of notes to challenge her the same way the previous music challenged the girl before her. I think the single purpose gives the concerti their too common thread.

What a righteous reason for his presumed flaw. Providing an opportunity for some young girl that had lost her parents through death or circumstance. That is why he is my hero. That is why I can forgive him for writing the same great concerto seven hundred times. He took his art and used it for its greatest good — to enrich the lives of children that have been marginalized and forgotten.  What a great way to spend the token of talent the Lord put in his pocket.

— Donnie Bryson


3 responses to “The righteous red-headed priest”

  1. You must be some kind of idiot to think that Vivaldi wrote the same concerto 700 times. And who are you to criticize? What exactly have you contributed to the planet? Why don’t you just give us a break and learn to listen with those appendages on your head or at least learn how to play the most magnificent instrument in the universe. The violin!!!!

    1. Well, at times I can be some type of idiot. The comment, however, was told by my music history professor in undergrad school as being made by Franz Liszt. It was not an original comment.

      Like Bach, I have a good deal of respect for Vivaldi. However, the alleged comment of Liszt does have some merit because Vivaldi did not have varying stylistic periods like Beethoven (compare the earlier string quartets with the last ones and the 2nd symphony with the 9th). Nor did Vivaldi display the stylistic breadth of Barber (cf School for Scandel to Adagio for Strings).

      But, having said that, the Vivaldi stylistic sameness does give him a distinct voice much like Glass or Chopin. That is a good thing. He is both stylistic consistent and distinct. The worse comment that could ever be made of an artist is that it looks or sounds exactly like everyone else’s art.

      Anyway, thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      1. Also, one additional thought. I do still hold to my original thesis — his stylistic consistency has something to do with the purpose of his art. Art with a purpose is significantly better than art for no other purpose than art. I believe God gives extra credit for function.

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