Antonio Vivaldi vs Dallas-Fort Worth

As the Dallas-Fort Worth area swelters through yet another day of 100+ degree weather, I’m reminded of the Four Seasons–not the Frankie Valli band, of course, but the famous musical suite by Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi.

Many who are not especially familiar with it may still recognize the name, and even those who don’t recognize the name would likely have run across at least some of the musical themes.  For those less familiar with it and unwilling to read the whole Wikipedia article referenced above, I’ll just say that the composition comprises four concertoes–concertos–concerti?–forget it.  It contains four musical sections, one for each season (starting with Spring), with each section including three movements, or twelve movements in all.  Presumably that represents one movement per month.

Of course there are a lot of people on this side of the Atlantic who don’t care much for the whole broadly-defined classical genre.  How are they supposed to relate to music written hundreds of years ago by a bunch of Europeans?

Musicological arguments aside, I do find myself wondering how The Four Seasons in particular might have been different if Vivaldi had lived, say, in North Texas, rather than Italy.  On the whole, I can think of two major differences.

Firstly, The Four Seasons would not have been written for strings with continuo (harpsichord).  This being the southern plains, I strongly suspect that Vivaldi would have orchestrated the piece for wind instruments.  Lots and lots of wind instruments.

Secondly, I believe the sequence of movements would have been different.  Instead of proceeding methodically through each part of each season, the order would instead have looked more like this (with each movement’s tempo in (of course) italics):

  1. Spring – Allegro
  2. Winter – Adagio sub-zero
  3. Spring – Moderato
  4. Summer – Andante
  5. Spring – Presto tornado
  6. Summer – Largo
  7. Summer – Largo non comodo
  8. Summer – Largo habanero
  9. Summer – Largo non comodo
  10. Summer with occasional bursts of Fall — Molto confuso
  11. Fall – Moderato
  12. Fall – Allegro

In fact it might have been easier for Vivaldi to compose this version, since the 7th, 8th, and 9th movements could use the exact same score as the 6th movement; but in these the music would just be played a good bit louder….

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