Antonio Vivaldi (Venetian, 1678-1741): Concerto in E minor “Il Favorito,” mvt. 2 Andante
For some reason Ella Fitzgerald and Monica Huggett remind me so much of each other, even though on the surface their art is quite different. They share a total mastery of their craft, complete ease onstage, love of what they do, and an ability to communicate directly and personally with an audience.
Vivaldi wrote about 500 concertos (!), of which about 200 were for violin!! For much of his life he taught violin for at the Pio Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage for girls in Venice, and many of his concertos for all instruments were written for the girls to perform. Judging from the difficulty of Vivaldi’s compositions (vocal and instrumental), the girls’ skill must have been extraordinary, but they had to perform from behind screens on the balcony, because it was considered inappropriate for girls to be seen playing instruments and singing.
Vivaldi was nicknamed, “The Red Priest,” because he had striking red hair and had been ordained as a priest. But shortly thereafter, he claimed he had asthma and therefore couldn’t say the entire mass. Hmmm... Seems more likely he just preferred writing and performing music!