Vivaldi and the Invisible Orchestra

Vivaldi and the Invisible Orchestra

by Stephen Costanza
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Every day, Antonio Vivaldi composes a new orchestral piece, and every day, the orphan Candida transcribes Vivaldi's masterpiece into sheet music for the Invisible Orchestra. Nobody notices Candida or appreciates her hard work.

But one day Candida accidentally slips a poem she wrote into the sheet music and the girl so often behind the shadows gets recognized for

…  See more details below

Overview

Every day, Antonio Vivaldi composes a new orchestral piece, and every day, the orphan Candida transcribes Vivaldi's masterpiece into sheet music for the Invisible Orchestra. Nobody notices Candida or appreciates her hard work.

But one day Candida accidentally slips a poem she wrote into the sheet music and the girl so often behind the shadows gets recognized for her own talents. Vivaldi really did have an Invisible Orchestra made up of orphan girls he taught to play. This beautiful book pays tribute to their inspiration.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This semifictional backstory to The Four Seasons draws on Vivaldi’s role as music master at Venice’s Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage renowned for its all-girl orchestra (the girls performed concealed by a curtain, hence the title). Costanza (Mozart Finds a Melody) imagines that a young, irrepressible musical copyist, Candida, actually inspired the naming of The Four Seasons (and the unattributed sonnets that accompany the music) by scribbling seasonally themed verse beside the evocative notes as she made sheet music for each player (“She imagined herself skating on the frozen canals. ‘My teeth chatter with the frozen cold,’ she said”). It’s a laudable idea to enrich understanding of a composition so ubiquitous it’s become synonymous with hold music, and Costanza’s velvety pastel pictures, with their doll-like characterizations, dreamy settings, and palette of Venetian blues and greens, lends a fairy tale feel to the story. Though readers will probably want to know more about the girls’ unusual lives than Costanza tells them, he plants the seeds of musical appreciation amid somewhat unfocused storytelling. Ages 6–10. Agent: Painted Words. (Feb.)
From the Publisher

“A good introduction to both music history and creative writing.” —School Library Journal

“It's a laudable idea to enrich understanding of a composition so ubiquitous it's become synonymous with hold music, and Costanza's velvety pastel pictures, with their doll-like characterizations, dreamy settings, and palette of Venetian blues and greens, lends a fairy tale feel to the story.” —Publishers Weekly

“Altogether, a pleasing interpretation of the creative process and the power of art to connect individuals.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Radiant, softly textured illustrations, featuring rich jewel tones, dynamic scenes, and plenty of delightful Venetian flourishes, elevate this look at musical composition from the author-illustrator of Mozart Finds a Melody (2004).” —Booklist

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Opening with a scene of Venice, readers learn that Vivaldi "daydreamed" in music. He wrote thousands of notes in a day which he composed for an orchestra of orphan girls who played behind a curtain never to be seen. The real focus of this story is a girl named Candida who like other orphans prepared sheet music for the orchestra. The parts for each instrument had to be carefully hand copied. According to the author Candida was also a dreamer. When she heard the music in her head, it would present images. One day she scribbled some poetry on the pages of music that she was copying. The orchestra found it laughable, but Vivaldi was intrigued. Soon he had the orchestra improvising the sounds and on the next day there was a new composition—The Four Seasons—with poetry to accompany the notes. It was played to acclaim and Candida got to take a bow and the invisible girl now became visible. Is this a true story? No, the Author's Note at the end of the book presents more facts about the Invisible Orchestra and the other girls in the orphanage. No one knows who really composed the poems that accompany the music. The illustrations are also fanciful but soft toned. The author/illustrator has used pastels to great effect. Even though this is a picture book, it is one that could be enjoyed by anyone who loves music or has daydreams of his or her own. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Vivaldi's musicians were orphan girls who performed behind the stage. Candida is a member of the Invisible Orchestra, and her job is to copy the composer's notes for each instrument. As she is transcribing La Notte, a concerto about the night, she imagines the violins as "glittering stars … .The violas are the fireflies; the cellos below them, the crickets." While copying a concerto about winter, she is equally moved by the music and can hear the sound of "frozen raindrops" against the windowpane and feel her "teeth chatter." She writes her poetic imaginings in the margins of L'Inverno, much to the amusement of the musicians. Vivaldi, however, delights in her writing and is inspired to create The Four Seasons. Costanza's pastel illustrations evoke a Venetian setting bathed in a warm glow. There is a lovely melodic quality to the text. An author's note provides factual details about Vivaldi and the orphans at the Ospedale della Pietà and the origins of this story. A good introduction to both music history and creative writing.—Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada
Kirkus Reviews
Girls and women are often the overlooked players in music history. This appealing book highlights a little-known facet of Antonio Vivaldi's composing life. He wrote much of his music for an Invisible Orchestra made up of girls from a Venetian orphanage, who performed behind a curtain. Costanza imagines that one of the young orphans wrote the four sonnets that inspired Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." Candida is Vivaldi's copyist, and she spends her days transcribing parts from his scores onto sheets for the musicians. His music feeds her daydreams, and she unconsciously scribbles poetry in the margins. Bright pastels in jewel tones create a patchwork of colors depicting the musical sources of Candida's inspiration; glittering stars and shimmering light dance across the pages. In contrast, the scores are drawn on a parchmentlike background. The musical notation is accurate and clearly legible, which will satisfy readers who are themselves musicians. Less pleasing is the sporadic use of italics, which has more of the effect of a reading primer than musical ornamentation. Some are effective as emphasis, others less so: "… to great applause… Candida stepped out and took a bow." Fluid pacing of scenes lyrically advances the story, although the characters' outsized heads sometimes threaten to overwhelm the charm of the illustrations. Altogether, a pleasing interpretation of the creative process and the power of art to connect individuals. (author's note) (Picture book. 4­–7)

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805078015
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
02/28/2012
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
614,765
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Stephen Costanza is the author and illustrator of Mozart Finds a Melody, and the illustrator of several other picture books. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times. He lives in Belfast, Maine.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >