Lucio Vivaldi was born on 4 March 1678 in Venice. He was ordained as a priest
in 1703 and employed for most of his working life by the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice. The establishment was in essence an
orphanage for girls that provided a prestigious musical education to a core
group known as the figlie di coro.
The standard of the figlie di coro was extrordinarily high and their virtuosic
reputation extended throughout Europe. Through the stars of the Pietà, the institutation was able
supplement its State financing by staging regular Sunday concerts, for which
Vivaldi composed the bulk of his 500 plus concerti. These concerti aside, the
composer also had a prolific output of operas, sacred and chamber music. In his
lifetime he was renowned throughout Europe as both a composer and a virtuoso
violinist. After his death, he was quickly forgotten until hundreds of his
scores were discovered ninety years ago.
in G Major RV 149 ‘Il coro delle Muse’ is
one of the few works by Vivaldi that can be linked to an exact date. On 21
March 1709 the Ospedale della Pietà
hosted an extravagant event in honour of Prince-Elector Frederick Christian
whose father was King of Poland and Elector of Saxony. Venice was no longer a
great maritime power and it was not uncommon for such tribute events honouring
important foreign guests to be hosted in order to boost the city's economy.
Four of such events were held in the city that spring, with each trying to out-do the other. High-profile
concerts for foreign royalty were a huce source of finance for the Ospedale and unsuprisingly, this event
became a showcase of Vivaldi's works. Four of his instrumental works were
performed and dedicated to the prince-elector, copies of which were bound and
presented to him, including this Sinfonia.
opens with a vigorous first movment; a fine example of Vivaldi’s fondness for
tirelessly exploiting one figure in a manner that is texturally reminiscent of
a solo sonata, with a single melodic voice. The second movement in contrast has a simpler texture,
consististing of a single melodic line in the violins which is divided between
the bow and pizzicato against an
unharmonised bass. The final movement is entrusted to another overwhelming
Allegro which is almost theatrical in form.