The Four Seasons of Antonio Vivaldi and Josquin Desprez

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The Four Seasons

The music movement created in the spring season starts slowly then changes to Largo ending with Allegro. The violins are heard playing imitating the sound of birds chirping and babbling brooks later changing to thunderclaps. Largo changes the mood to being mysterious by playing minor cords and dramatic undertones showing change of season. Allegro creates an effect of fast movement where the shepherd rejoices.


In the summer season there is a combination of slow movement, Adagio and Presto. The slow movement represents the sunny climate where everything is quiet and tired. This tension later changes Antonio Vivaldi performed his song The Four Seasons in the 18th century. His performance is well known with the expert use of violin. The song "Four Seasons", has four themes/sonnets to indicate the four seasons. The four seasons are spring, summer, fall and winter. Through the way the Orchestra is played, the music brings out clearly the characteristics of the four seasons. His music has been classified as program music. What makes the song to outstand is the combination of musical instruments to indicate the four seasons in a year.

This effect is used as a warning to the shepherd in preparation of the storm to come. Lastly as the storm pours, he changes the sound of the orchestra to being more faster capturing the thunder, wind, hail and the shepherd's worry.

and the orchestra is played faster. The orchestra is played to mimic not only the sound of thunder but insects buzzing furiously to indicate summer storm. Adagio is used to express fear of the insects and Presto to signify the violence of supper.


In the third theme, Fall, it begins with a slow peaceful melody illustrating the peace the villagers have as they celebrate on the fruitful year. The instrument is played a bit high depicting drunkenness of the villagers which later slows as people retires to their homes for the night. Suddenly the instrument is played highly, to illustrate the dawn of the next day as people gather to go hunting.


The fourth theme which is an illustration of winter, starts with high music. The high tension shows villagers trembling in the cold as it is snowy. The melody in this theme is a bit different because of the nature of the winter season. A lot of tension is created throughout showing the impact of the cold as people are shivering as the cold wind is blowing. A violin is later played to show how the people are enjoying the heat beside the heat stove. The speed of the violin and orchestra increases to imitate the sound of people walking cautiously on the ice and strong cold winds blowing through the door.

Ave Maria by Josquin Des Prez

Antonio Vivaldi has used four themes differently in accordance to the four seasons. His performance is illustrated by the use of Allegro, Largo e pianissimo sempre and Allegro pastorale for spring, Allegro non molto, Adagio e piano- Presto e forte and Presto for summer, Allegro, Adagio molto and Allegro for fall and lastly Allegro non molto, Largo and Allegro for winter. The instrumental music used to evoke something extra musical brings out sophistication in his performance.

On the other hand, the performance of Ave Maria by Josquin Des Prez is a bit different from that of Antonio Vivaldi although there are some similarities. Having been first performed in the same era, Josquin's use of motet is characterized by high pitches unlike The four seasons which shows effectiveness of the use of dynamic instruments timbre. The high motet is characterized by high pitches on the recitation often made through the song.

The style used by Antonio lies more as a Baroque while Josquin's style is more of a renaissance because of the way texts are often repeated throughout the song. Often renaissance music is characterized by syntactic repetition as in the case of Ave Maria. Josquin's musical is composed of four motets providing a classic elegance with the best examples of its style, beauty and power. Unlike The four seasons where instruments are played to mimic the various seasons, Ave Maria has different musical phrases to correspond the different phrases of text, pointing out the imitations frequently exposed in the phrases.

Josquin has used classic balance where voices rest on perfect intervals creating some harmonic cadences. Where the four voices sing together, a strong climax is established leading to an increased density of the counterpart. Syntactic repetition is seen in the forts four verses have balanced and comparable length, melody, and intensity. A homophonic harmony is released at the phrase "solemni plena gaudio" followed by a dense syncopation rhythm at the text "coelestia, terrestrial".

Similarly, Antonio's Four season, reveals harmony in creating understanding to the listener. The song is in sequences allowing the listener to easily follow and understand. The repition style shown in spring uses a unique rhythm to ensure the repition is catchy and not boring. Both performances rely on emotional appeal to clearly communicate to the listeners. This clearly expressed in the changes of instrumental play in the four seasons.

Josquin's music is basically more composed of duets alternating followed by another voice creating harmony at every repose. The performance is more characterized by strong cadences which form harmony unlike the use of orchestra and instruments in Antonio's performance. Ave Maria is characterized by short repetitions, consonance, conjunct melody where each piece starts with a different melody. Also, the rhythm has regular beats throughout with medium tempo. Often, the meter changes from duple to triple. The texture used is characterized by Polyphonic and Chordal Harmony with varying density from thick to thin.

Baroque Period

Baroque period reflects often bizarre style characterized by ornamental decorations. Mostly they were noted in churches, palace. Thick and complex polyphonic texture prevails in many composers work. A sense of drama and urgency is incorporated into vocal forms such as the cantata, mass, opera ,oratorio and passion. Baroque keyboard music written for the harpsichord and clavichord was written in suites comprising separate dance pieces, changing in tempo and meter but maintaining key unit thought. During the baroque period poets were accustomed thinking of themselves as musicians. The poet as singer was such a stock analogy at the time. Most of the plays were incorporated songs.


In conclusion, the importance of the contribution of the art to societal development cannot be overemphasized based in the fact that it creates a valid avenue by which people can express themselves and a significant way by which such expression is made possible is through the world of music.

October 05, 2023




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