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Vivaldi: Priest, Lover, Composer. A historical novel by André Romijn about the colourful life of the composer of the Four Seasons.

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Antonio Vivaldi: Priest, Lover, Composer

Just 65 years ago, nobody knows the name Vivaldi. Today, his music is regularly heard in restaurants, shopping centres and on TV advertisements. But did you know that Vivaldi, born and brought up in Venice, was trained as a priest? That he produced literally hundreds of works of music, from concertos to oratorios? That he began his career as a violin teacher in one of the orphanages of La Serenissima? Did you know that he not only wrote many operas but for years also acted as impresario at performances of these and other works?

What is the truth behind the ongoing rumours concerning an affair with the young singer Anna Girò? Was this why she was chosen to play the role of leading lady in his operas? And who was Paolina, Anna’s supposed half-sister? Is it true that Vivaldi is buried in a pauper’s grave in Vienna?

With ‘Hidden Harmonies’ André Romijn takes us back to the turmoil of the eighteenth century, cruising along canals past Baroque palaces and bustling theatres. We experience the carnival in Venice and travel to Florence, Mantua, Prague and Vienna. You are bound to find yourself enthralled by this artistic world of composers, castrati and prima donnas, kings, emperors and even the pope of Rome himself.

This novel by historical novelist and portrait painter André Romijn offers accessible insight into the life of a man whose constant struggle was a balancing act between victory and failure. How come his music is so famous today whilst just fifty years ago the name of Vivaldi was practically unknown? The novel is based upon historical facts.

Synopsis

This is a novel about the colourful life of the composer of the “Four Seasons”. “Hidden Harmonies: The Secret Life of Antonio Vivaldi” takes us back to the turmoil of the eighteenth century, cruising along canals past baroque palaces and bustling theatres, experiencing the carnival in Venice and accompanying the composer on his musical excursions to Florence, Mantua, Prague and Vienna. This is an enthralling artistic world of composers, castrati and prima donnas, kings, emperors, and even the Pope himself. What is the truth behind ongoing rumours concerning an affair with the young singer Anna Giro? Was this why she was chosen to play the role of leading lady in his operas? Who was Paolina, Anna’s supposed half-sister? And is Vivaldi’s final resting-place really a pauper’s grave in Vienna? The novel is based on historical fact.

Review

It only took a few pages, to discover that this book is serious, well-researched, and a good read into the bargain (= it’s difficult to put down!). The author has indeed gathered all the factual information on Vivaldi currently available. But it is in the background detail that he excels. His descriptions of cold Venice winter mists, the cramped often window-less living conditions, the odour of the canals at low tides serve to create an authentic backdrop. Add to this descriptions and relevant historical detail of the aristocrats, ambassadors, cardinals and patrons Vivaldi meets as his reputation grows, details of his journeys, the economic background and environment of the cities visited all of which would satisfy the most ardent historian. And yes, Antonio’s love life figures too, but credibly, and never disproportionately. The wealth of historical detail, as well as the dearth of material on Vivaldi, recommend this book to libraries and colleges, while its very readability make it a very acceptable gift for any music-lover. MM, editor BaroqueMusic.org –www.baroquemusic.org February 2008

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I must admit to not approaching this book with high expectations. But to say that these thoughts were soon overturned is a sore understatement: they were pushed to the ground, beaten senseless and dumped in a canal. The book begins with an episode crucial to Vivaldi’s rediscovery in the 20th Century and then slips back to the 18th Century and the man himself, as he staggers drunk back from a party and an encounter with a mystery woman (and Handel) and ends up unconscious under a bridge on a frozen canal. But as the book progresses more, and fascinating, attention is paid to Vivaldi’s musical life than to the naughty stuff suggested by the title. This romantic element is kept afloat throughout, but never drowns out the music, as it were. The story is firmly based on the real events of the composer’s life, but obviously a fair amount of fleshing out is needed, and it’s all done in a warmly believable and involving way. The composer is painted as pretty insecure and self-centred, but then again we artists usually are aren’t we? There’s poetic license involved, of course, with the Anna Giro enigma explained in a way which sweetly swaps one sin for another. Anna Maria, one of Vivaldi’s star pupils at the Pieta is in here too. I’m not sure if you need to be a Vivaldi fan to be gripped, I think that the story is eventful and well told enough that you don’t. And the Venetian atmosphere and detailing is spot on. In short – a Venetian and musical treat. –www.fictionalcities.com January 2008

Additional information

Weight 1 kg
Dimensions 23 × 16 × 4 cm

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