About this Piece
Corelli's influence on the younger generation of composers comes through clearly in the music of Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). Like Corelli, Vivaldi spent most of his career in one place, Venice, though beginning in 1718, he traveled extensively. (He actually died in Vienna.) And Vivaldi, too, lavished much more effort on instrumental music than most of his contemporaries, leaving a legacy that included 500 or so concertos; unlike Corelli, he also composed several operas and a large amount of sacred vocal music.
The Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 3, No. 9, comes from Vivaldi's set of 12 concertos L'estro armonico (difficult to translate, but meaning something along the lines of "The Harmonic Inspiration"), which flooded Europe after their publication in 1711. L'estro armonico was probably the most important collection of concertos published during the period, changing the way composers approached concerto form. Composer Johann Joachim Quantz, who heard L'estro armonico in 1714 at the Saxon royal residence in Pirna, later remembered: "As musical pieces of a kind that was then entirely new, they made no small impression on me. I was eager to accumulate a good number of them, and Vivaldi's splendid ritornelli [orchestral passages] served as good models for me in later days."
Where Corelli stuck largely to the church sonata as a form, Vivaldi adopted, and thereby helped to promulgate, the newer fast-slow-fast pattern, which remained standard for concertos well into the 20th century. The first movement of Op. 3, No. 9, with its dotted opening, incorporates the majesty of Corelli's slow introduction into the Allegro proper. The Adagio, with its surging strings giving way to the soloist's simple but affecting melody, and the buoyant final Allegro complete a work that points the way forward toward the solo concertos of the later 18th and 19th centuries.
John Mangum is the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Program Designer/Annotator.