The 100 most inspiring musicians of all Time

The 100 most inspiring musicians of all Time: Antonio Vivaldi

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The 100 most inspiring musicians of all Time: Antonio Vivaldi

Antonio Vivaldi (b. March 4, 1678, Venice, Republic of Venice [Italy]—d. July 28, 1741, Vienna, Austria)

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was an Italian composer and violinist who left a decisive mark on the form of the concerto and on the style of late Baroque instrumental music.


Vivaldi’s main teacher was probably his father, Giovanni
Battista, who in 1685 was admitted as a violinist to the
orchestra of the San Marco Basilica in Venice. Antonio,
the eldest child, trained for the priesthood and was ordained
in 1703.

He made his first known public appearance playing
violin alongside his father in the basilica in 1696. He became
an excellent violinist, and in 1703 he was appointed violin
master at the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned
or orphaned children. The Pietà specialized in the musical
training of its female wards, and those with musical aptitude
were assigned to its excellent choir and orchestra.

Vivaldi had dealings with the Pietà for most of his career:
as violin master (1703–09; 1711–15), director of instrumental
music (1716–17; 1735–38), and paid external supplier of
compositions (1723–29; 1739–40).

Vivaldi’s earliest musical compositions date from his
first years at the Pietà. Printed collections of his trio
sonatas and violin sonatas respectively appeared in 1705
and 1709, and in 1711 his first and most influential set of
concerti for violin and string orchestra (Opus 3, L’estro
armonico) was published by the Amsterdam music-publishing
firm of Estienne Roger. In the years up to 1719, Roger published
three more collections of his concerti (opuses 4, 6,
and 7) and one collection of sonatas (Opus 5).

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Vivaldi made his debut as a composer of sacred vocal
music in 1713, when the Pietà’s choirmaster left his post
and the institution had to turn to Vivaldi and other composers
for new compositions. He achieved great success
with his sacred vocal music, for which he later received
commissions from other institutions. Another new field
of endeavour for him opened in 1713 when his first opera,
Ottone in villa, was produced in Vicenza. Returning to Venice,
Vivaldi immediately plunged into operatic activity in the
twin roles of composer and impresario.

From 1718 to 1720 he worked in Mantua as director of secular music for that city’s governor, Prince Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt.

This was the only full-time post Vivaldi ever held; he seems to have preferred life as a freelance composer for the flexibility and entrepreneurial opportunities it offered.

Vivaldi’s major compositions in Mantua were operas, though he
also composed cantatas and instrumental works.

The 1720s were the zenith of Vivaldi’s career. Based
once more in Venice, but frequently traveling elsewhere,
he supplied instrumental music to patrons and customers
throughout Europe. Between 1725 and 1729 he published
five new collections of concerti (opuses 8–12).

After 1729 Vivaldi stopped publishing his works, finding it more profitable to sell them in manuscript to individual purchasers.

In the 1730s Vivaldi’s career gradually declined. The
French traveler Charles de Brosses reported in 1739 with
regret that his music was no longer fashionable. Vivaldi’s
impresarial forays became increasingly marked by failure.
In 1740 he traveled to Vienna, but he fell ill and did not
live to attend the production there of his opera L’oracolo in
Messenia in 1742. The simplicity of his funeral on July 28,
1741, suggests that he died in considerable poverty.

Instrumental Music

Almost 500 concerti by Vivaldi survive. More than 300 are
concerti for a solo instrument with string orchestra and
continuo. Of these, approximately 230 are written for solo
violin, 40 for bassoon, 25 for cello, 15 for oboe, and 10 for
flute. There are also concerti for viola d’amore, recorder,
mandolin, and other instruments. Vivaldi’s remaining
concerti are either double concerti (including about 25
written for two violins), concerti grossi using three or
more soloists, concerti ripieni (string concerti without a
soloist), or chamber concerti for a group of instruments
without orchestra.

Vivaldi perfected the form of what would become the
Classical three-movement concerto. Indeed, he helped
establish the fast-slow-fast plan of the concerto’s three
movements. Perhaps more importantly, Vivaldi was the
first to employ regularly in his concerti the ritornello form,
in which recurrent restatements of a refrain alternate with
more episodic passages featuring a solo instrument.
Vivaldi’s bold juxtapositions of the refrains (ritornelli) and
the solo passages opened new possibilities for virtuosic
display by solo instrumentalists.

The fast movements in his concerti are notable for their rhythmic drive and the boldness of their themes, while the slow movements often
present the character of arias written for the solo instrument.

Several of Vivaldi’s concerti have picturesque or allusive
titles. Four of them, the cycle of violin concerti entitled
The Four Seasons (Opus 8, no. 1–4), are programmatic in a
thoroughgoing fashion, with each concerto depicting a different
season of the year, starting with spring. Vivaldi’s
effective representation of the sounds of nature inaugurated
a tradition to which works such as Ludwig van
Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony belong. Vivaldi also left more
than 90 sonatas, mainly for stringed instruments.

Vocal Music

More than 50 authentic sacred vocal compositions by
Vivaldi are extant. They range from short hymns for solo
voices to oratorios and elaborate psalm settings in several
movements for double choir and orchestra. He composed
some 50 operas (16 of which survived in their entirety) as
well as nearly 40 cantatas. Many of Vivaldi’s vocal works
exhibit a spiritual depth and a command of counterpoint
equal to the best of their time. Moreover, the mutual
independence of voices and instruments often anticipates
the later symphonic masses of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart.

Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, Op. 8 (Sheet Music)

Download Vivaldi’s sheet music arrangeents for piano and guitar from our Library.

The 100 most inspiring musicians of all Time

The 100 most inspiring musicians of all Time: JOSQUIN DES PREZ

The 100 most inspiring musicians of all Time: JOSQUIN DES PREZ

JOSQUIN DES PRES (b. c. 1450, Condé-sur-l’Escaut?, Burgundian Hainaut [France]—d. Aug. 27, 1521, Condé-sur-l’Escaut)

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Josquin des Prez was one of the greatest composers of
Renaissance Europe.

Josquin’s early life has been the subject of much scholarly
debate, and the first solid evidence of his work comes from
a roll of musicians associated with the cathedral in Cambrai
in the early 1470s. During the late 1470s and early ’80s,

he sang for the courts of René I of Anjou and Duke Galeazzo
Maria Sforza of Milan, and from 1486 to about 1494 he
performed for the papal chapel. Sometime between then
and 1499, when he became choirmaster to Duke Ercole I
of Ferrara, he apparently had connections with the Chapel
Royal of Louis XII of France and with the Cathedral of
Cambrai. In Ferrara he wrote, in honour of his employer,
the mass Hercules Dux Ferrariae, and his motet Miserere was
composed at the duke’s request. He seems to have left
Ferrara on the death of the duke in 1505 and later became
provost of the collegiate church of Notre Dame in Condé.

JOSQUIN DES PREZ sheet music pdf

Josquin’s compositions fall into the three principal categories
of motets, masses, and chansons. Of the 20 masses
that survive complete, 17 were printed in his lifetime in
three sets (1502, 1505, 1514) by Ottaviano dei Petrucci.

His motets and chansons were included in other Petrucci
publications, from the Odhecaton (an anthology of popular
chansons) of 1501 onward, and in collections of other printers.
Martin Luther expressed great admiration for Josquin’s
music, calling him “master of the notes, which must do as
he wishes; other composers must do as the notes wish.”

In his musical techniques he stands at the summit of the
Renaissance, blending traditional forms with innovations
that later became standard practices. The expressiveness
of his music marks a break with the medieval tradition of
more abstract music.

Especially in his motets, Josquin gave free reign to his
talent, expressing sorrow in poignant harmonies, employing
suspension for emphasis, and taking the voices gradually
into their lowest registers when the text speaks of death.
Josquin used the old cantus firmus style, but he also developed
the motet style that characterized the 16th century
after him. His motets, as well as his masses, show an
approach to the modern sense of tonality. In his later works

Josquin gradually abandoned cantus firmus technique for
parody and paraphrase. He also frequently used the techniques
of canon and of melodic imitation.

In his chansons Josquin was the principal exponent of
a style new in the mid-15th century, in which the learned
techniques of canon and counterpoint were applied to
secular song. He abandoned the fixed forms of the rondeau
and the ballade, employing freer forms of his own device.
Though a few chansons are set homophonically—in
chords—rather than polyphonically, a number of others are
examples of counterpoint in five or six voices, maintaining
sharp rhythm and clarity of texture.

The music of JOSQUIN DES PREZ: Miserere mei Deus

The Hilliard Ensemble

He then went to France (he may also have done so while at the papal chapel) and probably served Louis XII’s court. Although he may have had connections with the Ferrara court (through the Sforzas) in the 1480s and 1490s, no formal relationship with the court is known before 1503 when, for a year, he was maestro di cappella there and the highest-paid singer in the chapel’s history.

There he probably wrote primarily masses and motets. An outbreak of plague in 1503 forced the court to leave Ferrara (Josquin’s place was taken by Obrecht, who fell victim in 1505). He was in the north again, at Notre Dame at Condé, in 1504; he may have been connected with Margaret of Austria’s court, 1508-11. He died in 1521. Several portraits survive, one attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.

Josquin’s works gradually became known throughout western Europe and were regarded as models by many composers and theorists. Petrucci’s three books of his masses (1502-14) reflect contemporary esteem, as does Attaingnant’s collection of his chansons (1550). Several laments were written on his death (including Gombert’s elegy Musae Jovis), and as late as 1554 Jacquet of Mantua paid him tribute in a motet. He was praised by 16th-century literary figures (including Castiglione and Rabelais) and was Martin Luther’s favourite composer.

Josquin was the greatest composer of the high Renaissance, the most varied in invention and the most profound in expression. Much of his music cannot be dated. Generally, however, his first period (up to circa 1485) is characterized by abstract, melismatic counterpoint in the manner of Ockeghem and by tenuous relationships between words and music.

The middle period (to circa 1505) saw the development and perfection of the technique of pervasive imitation based on word-generated motifs. This style has been seen as a synthesis of two traditions: the northem polyphony of Dufay, Busnois and Ockeghem, in which he presumably had his earliest training, and the more chordal, harmonically orientated practice of Italy. In the final period the relationship between word and note becomes even closer and there is increasing emphasis on declamation and rhetorical expression within a style of the utmost economy.

His many motets span all three periods. One of the earliest, the four-part Victimae paschali laudes (1502), exemplifies his early style, with its dense texture, lack of imitation, patches of stagnant rhythm and rudimentary treatment of dissonance. Greater maturity is shown in Planxit autem David, in which homophonic and freely imitative passages alternate, and in Absalon, fili mi, with its flexible combination of textures. His later motets, such as In principio erat verbum, combine motivic intensity and melodic succinctness with formal clarity; they are either freely composed, four-part settings of biblical texts, or large-scale cantus firmus pieces. Transparent textures and duet writing are common.

Josquin’s 18 complete masses combine elements of cantus firmus, parody and paraphrase techniques. One of the earliest, L’ami Baudichon, is a cantus firmus mass on a simple dance formula; the simplicity of melody and rhythm and the clarity of harmony and texture recall the Burgundian style of the 1450s and 1460s. Fortuna desperata, on the other hand, is an early example of parody. Canonic writing and ostinato hgures are features. His last great masses, notably the Missa de beata virgine and the Missa ‘Pange lingua’ were preceded by works in which every resource is deployed with bravura.

Josquin’s secular music comprises three settings of Italian texts and numerous chansons. One of the earliest, Cela sans plus, typifies his observance of the formes fixes and the influences of the Burgundian style of Busnois and Ockeghem. Later works, such as Mille regretz, are less canonic, the clear articulation of line and points of imitation achieved by a carefull balanced hierarchy of cadences. Some, like Si j’ay perdu mon ami, look forward to the popular ‘Parisian’ chanson of Janequin.

The 100 most inspiring musicians of all Time

The 100 most inspiring musicians of all Time: GUIDO D’AREZZO

Guido d’Arezzo
(b. c. 990, Arezzo? [Italy]—d. 1050, Avellana?)

Guido d’Arezzo was a medieval music theorist whose
principles served as a foundation for modern Western
musical notation.

Educated at the Benedictine abbey at Pomposa, Guido
evidently made use of the music treatise of Odo of Saint-
Maur-des-Fossés and apparently developed his principles
of staff notation there. He left Pomposa in about 1025
because his fellow monks resisted his musical innovations,
and he was appointed by Theobald, bishop of Arezzo, as a
teacher in the cathedral school and commissioned to write
the Micrologus de disciplina artis musicae . The bishop also
arranged for Guido to give (c. 1028) to Pope John XIX an
antiphonary he had begun in Pomposa.

Guido seems to have gone to the Camaldolese monastery
at Avellana in 1029, and his fame developed from
there. Many of the 11th-century manuscripts notated in
the new manner came from Camaldolese houses.
The fundamentals of the new method consisted in
the construction by thirds of a system of four lines, or
staff, and the use of letters as clefs. The red F-line and the
yellow C-line were already in use, but Guido added a black
line between the F and the C and another black line above
the C.

guido d'arezzo free sheet music & scores pdf

The neumes could now be placed on the lines and
spaces between and a definite pitch relationship established.
No longer was it necessary to learn melodies by
rote, and Guido declared that his system reduced the 10
years normally required to become an ecclesiastical singer
to a year.

Guido was also developing his technique of solmization,
described in his Epistola de ignoto cantu . There is no evidence
that the Guidonian hand, a mnemonic device associated with his name and widely used in the Middle Ages, had any connection with Guido d’Arezzo.

Guido is also credited with the composition of a hymn
to St. John the Baptist, Ut queant laxis, in which the first
syllable of each line falls on a different tone of the hexachord
(the first six tones of the major scale); these syllables,
ut, re, mi, fa, sol, and la, are used in Latin countries as the
names of the notes from c to a (ut was eventually replaced
by do). His device was of immense practical value in teaching
sight-reading of music and in learning melodies. Singers
associated the syllables with certain intervals; mi to fa, in
particular, always represented a half step.

Before Guido an alphabetical notation using the letters
from a to p was used in France as early as 996. Guido’s system
used a series of capital letters, small letters, and double
small letters from a to g. Guido’s system also came to be
associated with the teaching of the gamut—the whole hexachord
range (the range of notes available to the singer).

In addition to his innovations Guido also described a
variety of organum (adding to a plainchant melody a second
voice singing different pitches) that moved largely, but not
completely, in parallel fourths. Guido’s work is known
through his treatise the Micrologus.

Guido D’Arezzo Music


Guido of Arezzo’s house with plaque at Via Andrea Cesalpino, 47

A monument to him was erected in his native Arezzo. He is one of the famous Tuscans honored by a statue in the Loggiato of the Uffizi in Florence.

The computer music notation system GUIDO music notation is named after him and his invention.

The “International Guido d’Arezzo Polyphonic Contest” (Concorso Polifónico Guido d’Arezzo) is named after him.

Francisco Valls‘ controversial Missa Scala Aretina took its name from Guido Aretinus’ scale.