Even within Vivaldi’s own oeuvre the thirty-nine bassoon concertos (two of them incomplete) form an impressive group. The composer seems to have had an affinity with deeper instruments which brought out especially vividly the melancholy, reflective side of his temperament. The bassoon concertos are all works of Vivaldi’s full maturity stretching from the late 1720s to his death in 1741.
There is much speculation amongst music historians as to the identity of the bassoonist for whom Vivaldi composed these works. One is tempted to think of the female musicians at the Ospedale della Pietà, where Vivaldi taught for many years but to date no document survives to prove the employment of the bassoon at the Pietà.
The following anecdotal evidence from a French visitor, Charles de Brosses in 1739 provides the best clue: The transcendent music here is that of the Ospedali. There are four of them, all for illegitimate or orphaned girls whose parents cannot support them. These are brought up at the State's expense and trained exclusively in music. Indeed they sing like angels, play the violin, flute, organ, oboe, cello, bassoon, so that no instrument however large can dismay them...
The concerto for bassoon, strings and continuo in A minor RV500 (later rearranged by the composer for oboe) is written on central European paper which may indicate that the work was composed during a visit to a Bohemian patron in 1730-31.