|The end of a long hot summer day in the country|
This year summer has been especially hot. Thanks to modern technology, we can sit in the coolness of air conditioning. But when you do not have access to air conditioning, it can be unbearable, and Vivaldi (who lived in the 1700s) knew that struggle.
The piece we’re gonna listen to today is from a set of violin concertos by the Baroque composer Vivaldi. This set of violin concertos is called “The Four Seasons”, depicting scenes from Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. We’ll listen to the “Summer” violin concerto today. There are sonnets to go with each concerto, it is not known whether they were written for the concertos or if the concertos were written for them. Either way, they help paint a picture of the scenes.
Follow along below as you listen. The words of the sonnets are in bold letters.
Beneath the blazing sun’s relentless heat
men and flocks are sweltering (00:00) (1:59)- This is the 1700s, there is no air conditioning. You can’t just go inside to get cool. As someone who grew up without air conditioning, I can imagine this well. Everyone is just laying on the ground doing nothing, I imagine a countryside with a bunch of people just lying randomly all over the place because it’s too hot.
pines are scorched. (1:19)- As the summer rages on without rain, fires become common.
We hear the cuckoo’s voice; then sweet songs of the turtle dove and finch are heard. (2:18)- We get a cuteness break to think about all the little birds that serenade us, this time singly sadly
Soft breezes stir the air (2:56)….but threatening north wind sweeps them suddenly aside (3:12)- A dramatic north wind disrupts the gentle breezes. Something bad is about to happen shortly.
3:40- More people trying to get cool
3:56- The birds sing again sadly
The shepherd trembles, fearful of violent storm and what may lie ahead.(5:28)- Ominous music to depict the shepherd’s fear, dark clouds appear in the distance.
Movement 2 (6:00)
His limbs are now awakened from their repose by fear of lightning’s flash and thunder’s roar , as gnats and flies buzz furiously around (6:16, 6:45, 7:32, 7:54- the bugs come)- That moment when you are sitting outside on a hot day and bugs are flying in your face and you keep swatting them away.
Movement 3 (8:10)
Alas, his worst fears were justified, as the heavens roar and great hailstones (8:23) beat down upon the proudly standing corn. – The shepherd runs around in distress screaming “Noooooo!!!” as all the corn is being destroyed by the storm. The low notes (8:10) sound like thunder while the descending notes (8:23) to me depict jagged lighting hitting the ground, and/or the hail.