The celebrated Venetian violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi undertook an ecclesiastical career as a young man. Having been ordained at the age of twenty-five, by way of social advantage rather than any real vocation, he was no exemplary clergyman and his nickname of “red priest” did not only refer to the color of his hair.
Dispensed from his priestly duties, officially owing to poor health, he assumed the position of choir leader and conductor at the Conservatorio della Pietà in Venice, a charitable school providing a musical education to orphaned girls. This all-girls school was famous throughout Europe for the musical activities of its “putte” who, from behind a heavy duty grille and concealed from the public, on holidays displayed their ability as singers and instrumentalists.
There are no detailed accounts of Vivaldi ‘s life, but his lively, contagious and virtuoso music has enabled him to occupy a privileged position in the history of classical symphonic music. The violinist-composer travelled extensively, both in Italy and abroad, and his works, like the universally famous Four Seasons and the superb Harmonic Inspiration, met with success wherever they were performed.
Vivaldi, as befits a true son of the Serenissima (as Venice is called), seemed to be rather partial to rice, in the numerous ways it appears in the regional cuisine of Veneto.