Walter Kolneder Vivaldi His life and workWalter Kolneder

Faber&Faber, 1971

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This volume dedicated to Antonio Vivaldi by the musicologist Walter Kolneder will be a little difficult for those who are not specialists because, apart from a brief introduction on the Venetian composer’s life (his early fame and the oblivion descended upon him even before his death, his fortune and his detractors and, more rapidly, the unclear link that bound him to the singer Anna Giraud), the main part of the biography is dedicated to a musicological analysis.

Kolneder’s main care is to bring clarity around Vivaldi’s immense repertoire and its difficult reorganization, which gave rise to incomplete or inaccurate catalogues by musicologists who have ventured in it. For this reason, he devotes extensive chapters to sonatas, concerts, operas, sacred music and other genres, emphasizing that it is not always easy to distinguish the compositions by type, because the same work may have many versions. The author explores also Vivaldi’s musical period, placing him and his works in a more precise context. There is also a discussion about the stylistic elements that characterize Vivaldi’s writing (with the effort to point out the differences that distinguish him from Corelli, with whom Vivaldi had usually been compared) and his compositional practice, so rapid to impress even his contemporaries and to compromise the quality of some compositions.

Finally, an extremely interesting chapter is devoted to the interest reserved to Vivaldi by Johann Sebastian Bach, which created the basis for Vivaldi’s revival after a century of oblivion. However, it is not on this aspect in particular the subject of the chapter, but the reason why Bach transcribed Vivaldi’s concertos and the influence that they had upon him.

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