Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Vivaldi's Four Seasons

Vivaldi's Four Seasons

Anna Harwell Celenza
Illustrator:  JoAnn E. Kitchel 
Historical Fiction Picture Book and Audio CD
For ages 6 to 8
Charlesbridge, 2012   ISBN: 978-1570916373

In the seventeen hundreds Venice was “a city of music,” and some of the best music was performed at a girl’s orphanage called Ospedale della Pieta. The girls at the Pieta were skilled musicians and their performances were popular with the music aficionados who lived in the area. The girls’ teacher was a young priest called Antonio Vivaldi. Though the girls loved their teacher and delighted in the music that he wrote for them, the men on the orphanage’s board of governors thought that he was a poor teacher because Vivaldi used to show his students how his music told a story. The governors felt that Vivaldi’s job was to “teach them proper playing technique.” He was not supposed to wasting the girls’ time by telling them stories.

   One spring day in 1718 the governors told Vivaldi that they did not need him anymore. One of the girls was now a good enough violin player to teach the others. A sad Vivaldi left Venice and went to Mantua, where he performed during the day and composed at night. It wasn’t long before he became famous, and when the Pieta governors found out about Vivaldi’s successes, they were not at all pleased. If only they hadn’t fired him. The problem was that Vivaldi was so famous now that they could not possible afford to employ him on a regular basis. Perhaps he would be willing to compose music for the girls, coming to visit the Pieta occasionally when his busy life allowed.

   In this splendid book, which is one in a series of books about famous pieces of music, the author tells the story of one of the world’s most famous musical works. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons has delighted music lovers for several hundred years, and the story the music conveys is still as fresh and meaningful as if was when it was composed.

   At the back of the book readers will find an author’s note about Antonio Vivaldi, and in the back cover there is a CD which contains a recording of The Four Seasons