who were students at the conservatorio dell’ospedale della pietà in baroque venice
Vivaldi was much-appreciated by Bach who copied and transcribed several of his concertos. Vivaldi brought to the table a rhythmic vivacity and harmonic clarity that Bach absorbed and added to the blend of French dance genres and ornamentation and German counterpoint in his summation of Baroque style. Without Vivaldi’s influence, Bach’s music might have much less impact than it does. Two pieces by Bach that show this particularly strongly are the Italian Concerto for harpsichord and the prelude to the Partita no. 3 in E major for violin. Here is the first movement of the Italian Concerto on harpsichord:
Vivaldi isn’t as great as Bach, Mozart or Beethoven. He is in the next group down, where there are forty or thirty souls, still called great. Among that group, Vivaldi would be one of the most prominent.
The composer Antonio Vivaldi was appointed a violin teacher in 1703 and served in various roles through 1715, and again from 1723 to 1740. Much of Vivaldi’s sacred vocal and instrumental music was written for performance at the Pietà.  The conservatory of the Pietà hospital was the only hospital to remain active until approximately 1830. All the other hospitals completely closed their musical activity during the first years of the nineteenth century. From an instrument inventory  dated 1790 we learn that during that year the Pietà hospital had still “four violins with used bows, four cellos, seventeen violins, two marine trumpets [this may in fact refer to violino in tromba marina, six small violas, two viola d’amore, two mandolines, two lutes, one theorbo, four hunting horns with accessories, two psalteries with harmonic box, two cymbals, three flutes, two big cymbals with spinets, six spinets.
The Ospedale della Pietà was a convent, orphanage, and music school in Venice. Like other Venetian ospedali, the Pietà was first established as a hospice for the needy. A group of Venetian nuns, called the Consorelle di Santa Maria dell’Umiltà, established this charitable institution for orphans and abandoned girls in the fourteenth century. By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Pietà – along with the three other charitable Ospedali Grandi – was well known for its all-female musical ensembles that attracted tourists and patrons from around Europe.
As well as about 46 operas, Vivaldi composed a large body of sacred choral music. Other works include sinfonias, about 90 sonatas and chamber music.
During his lifetime, Vivaldi’s popularity quickly made him famous in other countries, including France, but after his death the composer’s popularity dwindled. After the Baroque period, Vivaldi’s published concerti became relatively unknown and were largely ignored. Even Vivaldi’s most famous work, The Four Seasons, was at that time unknown in its original edition.
The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.
As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.
In a letter written by Vivaldi to his patron Marchese Bentivoglio in 1737, he makes reference to his “94 operas.” Only around 50 operas by Vivaldi have been discovered, and no other documentation of the remaining operas exists. Although Vivaldi may have exaggerated, in his dual role of composer and impresario it is plausible that he may either have written or been responsible for the production of as many as 94 operas during a career which by then had spanned almost 25 years. While Vivaldi certainly composed many operas in his time, he never reached the prominence of other great composers like Alessandro Scarlatti, Johann Adolph Hasse, Leonardo Leo, and Baldassare Galuppi, as evidenced by his inability to keep a production running for any extended period of time in any major opera house.
Figure 1. Antonio Vivaldi (engraving by François Morellon de La Cave (fr), from Michel-Charles Le Cène’s edition of Vivaldi’s Op. 8)