Vivaldi and Venice are entwined. Vivaldi was the most influential composer, and the leading violinist, of his age and spent most of his life in Venice, the most literary city in the world; a city already, in Vivaldi’s time, the most exciting on earth and a major tourist destination.
Vivaldi was born in Venice in 1678 and as a youth was a violinist at St Mark’s Cathedral. For much of his life he was the music director of the Pieta, where he composed for the weekly concerts, while also teaching at Venice’s famous ospedali, orphanages where children were taught music.
The Venice of Vivaldi’s lifetime is richly evoked, an essentially musical city that lived for hedonism. In Venice all the social classes mingled in their love of music, aristocrats, gondoliers and workers would meet at all sorts of musical and theatrical entertainments and the city’s carnivals would go on for months at a time. A city where one visitor to the opera commented that he could barely concentrate on the music because of the behaviour of the audience.
Erudite, entertaining and vivid Vivaldi’s Venice is a biography of the city that was the muse of the mysterious young composer who rarely it. Patrick Barbier gives us an extravagant evocation of Venice, as well as a revealing musical portrait of the enigmatic Vivaldi and a complete history of the influence behind the baroque.
Patrick Barbier is a Professor of Music at the West Catholic University in Angers. He has also written the highly acclaimed The World of the Castrati, published by Souvenir Press.
“Biographers have become used to the technique of making much of what little evidence they have, and of writing about everything that surrounds their elusive subject until they have brought us as close to him as we can get… which Patrick Barbier attempts in his portrait of the Venice Vivaldi knew. The prospect is a tempting one… A book to tickle the imagination.”
“Patrick Barbier brings to life the magic of 18th-century Venice during the six-month long carnival and paints a colourful portrait of Vivaldi, the Venetian ‘Red Priest’, in the lavishly illustrated Vivaldi’s Venice.”
“Barbier covers a broad canvas and reading Vivaldi’s Venice is like being taken into a painting by Canaletto or Guardi… He writes of the city, its people and music… He takes us to the musical splendour of the private palazzi and the uniqueness of Venice as the 17th-century opera capital of Europe. This is a sparkling book, sparely but well-illustrated in colour.”