Antonio Vivaldi composed this series of four concertos in 1726, during the height of the Baroque period. These pieces are some of the most well-recognized in all of classical music. Vivaldi places much emphasis on strings, and his soft, full style compliments weddings and other social occasions very nicely.
Originally, each movement of The Four Seasons was preceded by an Italian sonnet, also written by Vivaldi, to set the scene. The following is one of many unofficial translations of the original Italian:
Spring – Concerto No. 1 in E Major
Joyful Spring has arrived.
The birds celebrate her return with festive song.
Brooks in the gentle breezes flow with a sweet murmur.
Advancing over the heavens is a black canopy of thunderstorms,
those roaring heralds of Spring. When they die away to silence,
the birds take up their harmonious songs once more.
And in the flower-rich meadow,
with leafy branches rustling overhead,
the Goatherd sleeps, his faithful dog beside him.
Led by the festive sound of rustic bagpipes,
nymphs and shepherds lightly dance
beneath the brilliant canopy of Spring.
Summer – Concerto No. 2 in g minor
Allegro non molto
Beneath the blazing sun's relentless heat,
men and flocks are sweltering, pines are scorched.
We hear the cuckoo's voice, followed by the sweet songs
of the turtle dove and finch. Soft breezes stir the air,
but threatening north wind sweeps them suddenly aside.
The shepherd trembles, fearful of a violent storm
and all that may lie ahead.
Adagio e piano - Presto e forte
His limbs are now awakened from their repose
by fear of lightning's flash and thunder's roar,
as gnats and flies buzz furiously around.
Alas, his worst fears were justified,
as the heavens roared
and great hailstones beat down upon the proudly standing corn.
Autumn – Concerto No. 3 in F Major
The peasant celebrates with song and dance,
the harvest safely gathered in.
The cup of Bacchus flows freely,
and many find their relief in deep slumber.
The singing and the dancing die away as
cooling breezes fan the pleasant air,
inviting all to sleep without a care.
The hunters emerge at dawn, ready for the chase,
with horns and dogs and cries. Their quarry flees while they give chase.
Terrified and wounded, the prey struggles on, but, harried, dies.
Winter – Concerto No. 4 in f minor
Allegro non molto
Shivering, frozen amid the frosty snow in biting, stinging winds,
running to and fro to stamp one's icy feet, teeth chattering in the bitter chill.
To rest contentedly beside the hearth,
while those outside are drenched by pouring rain.
We tread the icy path slowly and cautiously,
for fear of tripping and falling. Then turn abruptly, slip,
crash on the ground and, rising, hasten on across the ice lest it cracks up.
We feel the chill north winds coarse through the home
despite the locked and bolted doors... this is winter,
which nonetheless brings its own delights.