Born 1678, Vivaldi was taught to play the violin
by his father, who was a violinist at the San Marco
. (It's very probable that he was also taught musicology
by Giovanni Legrenzi
, though there's never been any true proof for that.) In 1703 Vivaldi became a priest
. Because of health problems he only stayed in this function for a couple of years, but he never lost the status. From 1703 till 1740 he worked for an orphanage, first as a violin teacher
, but later also as a composer
. He often interrupted his work in Venice
to travel abroad.
Vivaldi became famous for his compositions rather than with his violin concerts. It's hard to give a survey of his musical development, since little of his work is dated. There are about 75 known sonatas, including triosonatas as well as compositions for one stringed instruments and basso continuo. The largest part of his oeuvre consists of concerti (about 450 of them), soloconcerti and concert grossi, which all show a great variation in structure and strength. More than 200 concerti were written for violin and string concerts. Vivaldi's experiments with harmony and style can be extracted from the titles of some of his compilations, like L'Estro Armonico ('the musical test'; 1711) and La Stravaganza ('the eccentricity'; 1714).
Also in the Baroque, Vivaldi continued with the development of the concerti, which had started with Corelli and had continued via Torelli and Albinoni. He handled the sterotypical basic form with inventiveness: both the outer movements have a fast tempo and are built on orchestral ritornellos (a kind of a refrain). These occur four to six times and are joined together by modulating solo passages. The middle part is a cantilena (melodious part) for the solo instrument, with accompaniment.
Even though Vivaldi is mostly famous for his instrumental compositions, he was also an operette expert, dealing with composition as well as impresario. He wrote a few operettes, including 'Libretti of Zeno', 'Metastasio' and 'Goldoni'. His vocal oeuvre consists of about 60 wordly cantatas, some church music and the oratorio 'Judi-tha triumphans' (1716). In 1741 in Vienna, Antonio Lucio Vivaldi died at the age of 63.