Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Us That Vivaldi Arranged His “Spring” Concerto for Chorus!?!?

By Stephen Raskauskas |

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Boticelli's Primavera

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons are some of the most frequently performed and instantly recognizable classical works today. The four concertos – SpringSummer, Autumn, and Winter – were first published in 1725 in a larger collection of concertos called The Contest Between Harmony and Invention.

You’ve likely heard The Four Seasons not just in their original forms, performed as instrumental concertos for chamber ensemble, but perhaps in arrangement, too. Dozens of composers have adapted them to create new works since Vivaldi first printed them.

In the 18th century, J.S. Bach recycled the theme of first movement of the Spring concerto into an aria, “Willkommen! Will ich sagen,” in the cantata Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende? (BWV 27).  Later, Jean-Jacques Rousseau arranged Spring for flute. More recently, Astor Piazzolla published his own take on Vivaldi’s Seasons, titled Estaciones Porteñas.

But the first person to arrange Vivaldi’s Spring was Vivaldi. He used the first movement of the concerto for his opera Dorilla in Tempe, which premiered in Venice in 1726.

He used music from Spring in the opera not once, but twice. First, you hear the Allegro from Spring in the opening Sinfonia of the opera. It’s also heard as the opening chorus, sung by a “chorus of nymphs and shepherds who in various scenes, praise Spring.” The scene is set in a “verdant landscape of hills and fields of flowers.” Hear the choral adaptation below.

Find the full libretto of Dorilla in Tempe on the International Sheet Music Library Project (IMSLP). Find the full score of The Four Seasons on IMSLP.