Vivaldi's Four Seasons


In eighteenth-century Venice, Italy, the finest musical performances are heard at an orphanage called the Ospedale della Pieta. Hidden from the audience is an orchestra of young orphan girls, some with physical disabilities and illnesses.

Padre Antonio Vivaldi, their music teacher, is inspired by the talented and determined young girls. When Vivaldi and his students are separated, Vivaldi is inspired to compose a set of concertos that mark the ...

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In eighteenth-century Venice, Italy, the finest musical performances are heard at an orphanage called the Ospedale della Pieta. Hidden from the audience is an orchestra of young orphan girls, some with physical disabilities and illnesses.

Padre Antonio Vivaldi, their music teacher, is inspired by the talented and determined young girls. When Vivaldi and his students are separated, Vivaldi is inspired to compose a set of concertos that mark the passing of time—the great baroque masterpiece entitled The Four Seasons.

Back matter includes an author's note with further historical and biographical information, as well as the text of the sonnets that accompany the music.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The seventh book in Celenza’s music appreciation series is based upon Vivaldi’s time as a music instructor at a Venetian orphanage. Vivaldi (1678–1741) encourages the orphans to envision stories behind the melodies, but his nontraditional methods cost him his position. As Vivaldi’s fame blossoms, however, the chief governor invites him to visit the orphanage and to write compositions for the girls, which leads to the debut of The Four Seasons. Kitchel’s watercolors blend natural and architectural forms, while the musicians’ wide faces echo the contours of their instruments. Includes a CD recording of The Four Seasons. Ages 6–9. (July)
Children's Literature - Tiffany Torbeck
A classic piece of music is brought to life through story when Celenza tells the tale of Vivaldi and the girls of Pieta Orphanage. This fictionalized account remembers when Vivaldi was Padre Rossi, the red-haired violin teacher to the girls at the orphanage. Not liking the girl's heads being filled with fairy tales, the governors fired him. But as his fame grew, the governors asked Vivaldi to compose scores for the concerts at the orphanage and, in this story, he composes the Four Seasons. Vivaldi really did work at the orphanage, and compose music for it. A resident of the orphanage, Anna Maria, also replaced him so that much is true to real history. The rest could be complete fiction, or partially true, but the image of teaching the girls the violin and seeing the world outside is quite charming. The reader can imagine the relationship between this famous composer and the young orphans as being very caring and warm. The text and pictures work well together to bring the music alive and would work well during a music unit, or to teach children to think about the seasons in a new way. This book can help cash-strapped schools teach music in the classroom. Reviewer: Tiffany Torbeck
Kirkus Reviews
In 18th-century Venice, a young priest named Vivaldi taught music to the orphans of the Ospedale della Pietà and later composed a concerto for them, the first of four "seasons," each with an accompanying sonnet. In her serviceable re-creation of the circumstances behind the composition of "Spring," Celenza provides a believable back story. She describes the orphanage, the hidden girls' musical performances (they played behind a screen so no one could see them), and their story-telling teacher, whom they called "Padre Rossi" for his red hair. But there is no real narrative arc to carry readers along. The description and invented dialogue serve as a backdrop for presenting the program of the concerto: the opening birdsong, storm and sunlight's return; the meadow scenes with the goatherd's barking dog; and the celebratory dance of the third movement. Watercolor illustrations on double-page spreads give a sense of time and place, but the people are stiff and static. Included as backmatter are translations of the sonnets that accompanied publication of The Four Seasons and a note from the author, who is a commentator and professor of music, adding some further information. Included on CD is a much-lauded performance by the Venice Baroque Orchestra with Giuliano Carmignola on Baroque violin. Seventh of a series of music-appreciation books for young readers covering composers and interpreters from Bach to Ellington, this is a useful introduction to a beloved classic. (Picture book. 6-9)
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—It is a fact that Vivaldi taught and composed music for a Venetian girls' orphanage that had a renowned student orchestra. It is speculation that he wrote The Four Seasons especially for the girls of the Ospedale della Pietá, but it makes a nice story. The bumpy relationship between the teacher and the school board lends the story tension, while the student musicians (many of whom were disabled) offer human interest. The lyrical description of the spring concerto brings the music to life, and the sonnets Vivaldi wrote for each season are included at the back. An author's note separates fact from fiction. The watercolor illustrations are pleasant, but somewhat sleepy even in dramatic moments. Beyond the matching uniforms, the faces and hair of the students all look similar. Vivaldi, nicknamed Father Redhead by the girls, appears with dark auburn hair indistinguishable from the hair of most of the students. Music lovers and history buffs will enjoy this entry in Charlesbridge's series of music-history picture books.—Heidi Estrin, Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570916373
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/1/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 370,906
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: AD760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Anna Harwell Celenza is a musicologist and the author of several books for adults and children regarding music history and the history of art. Her children’s books include THE FAREWELL SYMPHONY, PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION, GERSHWIN'S RHAPSODY IN BLUE, and VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS'. Anna lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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