Composers Datebook®

Happy birthday, Antonio Vivaldi

Composers Datebook - March 4, 2024


Antonio Lucio Vivaldi came into the world on today’s date in 1678 a few days after an earthquake shook Venice. The newborn was baptized immediately — just in case little Antonio’s first day also turned out to be his last.

Vivaldi’s father was a violinist, and even though Antonio quickly became a virtuoso on that instrument himself, he became a Roman Catholic priest.

Vivaldi complained of chest pains whenever he celebrated Mass — a medical excuse that allowed him to forgo his priestly duties and to concentrate on writing music, including dozens of operas and hundreds of concertos.

By his mid-40s, Vivaldi was a major figure on the European musical scene, but his fortunes gradually took a turn for the worse. The church ordered him to stop composing music for the theater and, for heaven’s sake, to stop gadding around Europe in the company of female opera singers!

Vivaldi went to Vienna in 1740, hoping to find a court position with Emperor Charles VI, a big fan of his music, but after eating some bad mushrooms, the emperor died. And the following year, Vivaldi died — from an internal infection, not an earthquake — at 63 and heavily in debt.

Music Played in Today's Program

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): ‘The Four Seasons’; Enrico; Onofri, violin; Il Giardino Armonico; Giovanni Antonini, cond. Teldec 97671

On This Day


  • 1678 - Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi, in Venice;

  • 1915 - Spanish-born American composer Carlos Surinach, in Barcelona;

  • 1928 - German-born American composer Samuel Adler, in Mannheim;


  • 1925 - German-born composer Moritz Moszkowski, 70, in Paris;


  • 1791 - Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 27 in Vienna with the composer as soloist;

  • 1870 - 1870–Tchaikovsky: fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet (first version) in Moscow, with Nicolas Rubinstein conducting (Gregorian date: March 16);

  • 1877 - Tchaikovsky: ballet Swan Lake, at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow (Julian date: Feb. 20);

  • 1885 - R. Strauss: Horn Concerto No. 1, by the Meiningen Orchestra conducted by Hans von Bülow, with Gustav Leinhos, that orchestra's principal horn, as the soloist;

  • 1895 - movements 1-3 only of Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection), by Berlin Philharmonic, with Mahler conducting; The first complete performance, also with the composer conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, took place on December 13 that same year;

  • 1905 - Glazunov: Violin Concerto, in St. Petersburg, with violinist Leopold Auer as the soloist (Julian date: Feb. 19);

  • 1921 - Daniel Gregory Mason: Prelude and Fugue for piano and orchestra, in Chicago;

  • 1988 - Argento: Te Deum for chorus and orchestra, by the Buffalo (NY) Philharmonic Orchestra and Schola Cantorum, Thomas Swan conducting;

  • 1995 - Christopher Rouse: Symphony No. 2, by the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Christoph Eschenbach conducting;


  • 1809 - The U.S. Marine Band performed for James Madison's Presidential inaugural ball, the first ever held. The president, First Lady Dolly Madison, and their guests were serenaded by popular songs and dances of the period;

  • 1965 - American premiere of Ligeti: Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes, in Buffalo, NY

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About Composers Datebook®

Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.

He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.

About Composers Datebook®