Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (Autumn) essay
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For centuries, the power of nature inspired artists as the most essential manifestation of expressivity. Antonio Vivaldi, one of the brightest Italian Baroque representatives, depicted the beauty of season change, experimenting with individual association and fundamental emotional images, such as excitement in September, melancholy in October, and faithful resistance in November.
Nevertheless, individuals tend to perceive images in a different way, depending on various factors, such as personal memories, dreams and thoughts. Listening to The Four Seasons composed by Antonio Vivaldi, we experience states, but the inner massage is left to be decoded and comprehended individually.
The ritornellos of the first movement express the open invitation, welcoming smile from the head of household. Nevertheless, accepting the invitation, the guest finds himself in the atmosphere of sin. Tasty delicacies, brought from the kitchen cannot cover the terrible truth that people who live in this house humiliate and betray each other.
After triumphant and ceremonial first solo that shows self-confidence, the second violin solo is played more carefully, as the curiosity of the guests, feeling that there will be the terrible truth revealing. The tutti sounds as the last try to assure about honesty and virtuousness of people who live in the house.
Emotional and beautiful violin solo that is presented in the middle of the Movement One is the refuse to believe in artistic hypocrisy of people who live in the house. Unnaturalness of smiles, laughter, compliments and gentle words seems to be the flaking make-up, and the shocked guest does not shy to tell the truth about his disbelief. However, people refuse to confess, the head of household insists on the people’s honesty. The tempo of the Movement One is devoted to the actions of householders: allegro symbolizes the vanity and fuss, adagio depicts doubts. The virtuous guest rejects hypocrisy and lies, but he remembers about good manners, which make his solo of disbelief more polite.
The last violin solo of the Movement One expresses his gentle, but strict rejection that shows how disappointed the guest is, how painful it is to experience the betrayal and hypocrisy. Nevertheless, members of the house continue to pretend to be cheerful, gentle and honest. They smile, laugh and lie to each other. The guest goes away.
Despite the fact that the concert was called “Autumn”, the cold expressiveness reminds winter holidays and desire to find sincere people to celebrate with. This composition brings the impression that the author tried to depict sincere cheerfulness and solemnity, the virtuosic tuttis were about to express the beauty. Nevertheless, each person understands music subjectively, even if a composition is the greatest masterpiece.
The violin solo that is performed in the Movement Two depicts the music of devastation. The mother, whose child was taken away, cannot understand the reason for living. She asks the sky, and her scream breaks through the life of emptiness and silence, becoming impossible to live with. This solo expresses the person’s emotions.
Adagio sounds as the music of sorrow, the lost paradise that cannot be returned. It might also symbolize the true love that was left in past forever and can never be retrieved, the bitterness, lack of habitual feelings. It shows flat, continuous pain that is not realized yet or the unbelievable truth.
Awakening of the patient after unplanned amputation, or after doctor’s acknowledgement about a disease beyond cure is the other imagery that might be perceived from the Movement Two. The person feels pain that is so banal for nurses and doctors, but for a patient the sorrow is always the same.
Nevertheless, the ending of the composition is inspiring, the coda expresses the hope, the strong faith in the future, that sometimes seems so distant, and the release seems unlikely to happen.
The tuttis that sound in the beginning of the Movement Three remind the dialogue between two men: the indigent young man and the rich gentleman. The gentleman is a calm person, but the other man tries to beg alms, becoming expressive and pathetic. The rich man refuses to give money, as they were earned by the hard work, he has wife and children to pay for, and so he cannot give the money.
While the bagger explains his misery, cries and prays, the man stays steady and firm: he has a wife, kids and he worked hard to earn money. The violin solo is the bagger’s explanation that he tried to work, but he appears too sick, his mother is also sick, and his father has just died. The man is patient, but stubborn. He refuses to give money and says the same story one more time.
High notes of violin solo sound sincere, tender and pathetic, as the indigent person’s bagging for money differs in argumentation, the solo differs in melody; the more rich man refuses, the brinier the bagger’s tears are. The solo with deep notes symbolizes the confidence of a wealthy person.
He refuses all the time with similar argumentation, saying his banal self-congratulatory speech. The bagger interrupts him, and they start to argue, but, suddenly, the young and beautiful woman appears. The short solo with deep notes, which symbolize the appearance of a young woman, sounds coquettish and mysterious. Since that moment, the same solo of rich man’s self-assurance is addressed to a young woman.
The rich man immediately starts to explain how generous he is, giving money to the bagger. He adds that it was easy to earn money, he does not have wife and children to spend money on, and so he gives money to bagger. The woman is interested about the generous man. They go away, while he tells girl something by his monotonous voice. The bagger counts money and think, “Things become easier when a beautiful woman appears”. When the young woman stays with the rich man, and the bagger gets his money, everybody seems to be happy. Nevertheless, all of them are empty and spoilt, and their happiness is misleading.
Various violin solos, tuttis and ritornellos show the contrast of expressions, the musical dialogue in Movement Three, the polylogue in Movement One and the monologue in Movement Two. Solos symbolize personal opinions, characters and feelings of people, depicted in The Four Seasons written by Antonio Vivaldi.
People and characters, imaged during the listening of the concert are perceived subjectively and a listener is free to express personal understanding of the music. However, such associations as dynamics in Movement One, melancholy in the Movement Two and confidence in Movement Tree are merely universal.
The author compared these parts of the concert with three months of one season, but images are bright and limited only by the imagination of listeners. As the talented composer, Antonio Vivaldi managed to depict the emotion, leaving the space for listener’s imagination. Each listener feels something personal and familiar in Antonio Vivaldi’s masterpiece The Four Seasons.