One of the most familiar pieces of early 18th century music (and perhaps classical music in general) is Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.”
But what makes it so memorable and significant? As teacher Betsy Schwarm notes in the Ted-Ed video “Why should you listen to Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’?”, part of its allure and importance lies in its use of programmatic elements.
Schwarm points out a few of the components of musical imagery that Vivaldi portrays in the piece:
• Spring — birds welcome spring with a happy song, a thunderstorm, followed by more birds (wet and frightened from the rain).
• Summer — a singing turtledove and a hailstorm.
• Autumn — hunters dashing about in search of prey.
• Winter — teeth-chattering cold, taking refuge by a crackling fire, and back out into the storm.
Watch the Ted-Ed video below to learn more about the underlying musical narrative in “The Four Seasons,” and see the entire lesson on Ted-Ed’s website.