The Sonnet That Inspired Vivaldi's The Four Seasons Concerto, "Summer"

Mar 3, 2018

It's that time of year again. You're finished with the harsh winter wind, and dreaming of the warm summer sun on your face. If a trip to the Bahamas is not on your agenda, perhaps a visit to Antonio Vivaldi's "Summer" concerto from The Four Seasons will bring a little sunshine into your heart.

Comprised of four violin concerti written by Vivaldi in 1723, The Four Seasons is probably the Baroque composer's best-known work. And each of the four concerti is based on a sonnet—supposedly written by Vivaldi himself.

Each sonnet is divided into three sections (fast, slow, fast), which correspond with the three movements in each concerto. Read the "Summer" sonnet below and listen to each part of The Four Seasons, Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315, "L'estate" (Summer).


1st Movement ("Summer") Allegro non molto
Under the harsh season's blazing sun, men and flocks languish and pines are scorched. We hear the call of the cuckoo, followed by sweet songs of the turtle dove and finch. Gentle western breezes blow...until the ominous north winds suddenly sweep them away. The little shepherd sobs in fear of the violent storm...and his destiny.

Nigel Kennedy - Vivaldi "Summer" 1st Movement:

2nd Movement ("Summer") Adagio e piano - Presto e forte
His tired limbs are roused from rest, frightened by the lightning bolts and roaring thunder, as flies and gnats swarm furiously.

Nigel Kennedy: Vivaldi "Summer" 2nd Movement:

3rd Movement ("Summer") Presto
Alas, his worst fears are realized, as huge hailstones fall from the roaring heavens, cutting the heads from the proudly standing grain.

Gidon Kremer: Vivaldi "Summer" 3rd Movement: