25th anniversary season

Music is for me a synonym for a great experience!

Dalibor Tkadlčík — double bass · PATRON OF THE CONCERT | photo: Milan Mošna

Antonio Vivaldi and his life in the Ospedale della Pietà or The accursed grills which only allowed  tones to pass through

Ospedale della Pietà in Venice – a fascinating institute which has been a subject of interest of filmmakers, writers and musicians, mainly thanks to Antonio Vivaldi. But what do we know about this institution for orphans? And who was the “Red Priest” – as Vivaldi was nicknamed because of his hair?

La Pietà was one of four orphanages in Venice which provided a home for more than one thousand children. The boys lived separately and were taught mainly about commerce while the girls studied music. The most talented – the figlie di coro (daughters of the chorus), were placed into a special class, guaranteeing them a certain popularity as well as the chance for the lucky ones to wed a wealthy aristocrat. The choir usually had between 40 and 60 members. Public performances were held in the chapel, attracting visitors from all over Europe. The girls sang from the gallery, hidden by metal screens. “The chapel is always full of music lovers,” wrote the writer and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau in one of his letters. “Even the singers from the Venetian opera come so as to develop genuine taste in singing based on these excellent models. What grieved me was those accursed grills, which allowed only tones to go through and concealed the angels of loveliness of whom they were worthy.”

Despite Vivaldi’s undisputed musical talent, his time at the Ospedale della Pietà was far from easy. In 1709, after six years’ service, he had to leave. In today’s jargon, the “board of directors” dismissed him from La Pietà, only to reconsider in 1711, when they accepted Vivaldi back, even with all of his vices, which included tempestuous behaviour, promiscuousness and mistrustfulness. However, in the end this decision undoubtedly suited both parties. Vivaldi used his freedom to travel and accept commissions from other patrons. On the other hand, he then devoted himself to his work at La Pietà, which lasted with brief intervals until 1740! Here he had people he could compose for – for example, his violin concertos were written for the talented Anna Maria Della Pieta, a violinist and mandolinist. An anonymous poet wrote that when she played: “Countless angels dared to hover near”. Amongst Vivaldi’s muses was the mezzosoprano Anna Girò. There was even speculation that she was Vivaldi’s lover, although Vivaldi, an ordained priest, claimed that their relationship was purely platonic. Nevertheless, it is clear that Anna was close to him and inspired him at the very least. He wrote several opera roles for her and helped her enormously to become a true artistic celebrity of her time.

Naturally, the famous Ospedale della Pietà orphanage was not only connected with Vivaldi. During the three centuries of its existence, 300 composers created more than 4,000 original works for it. However, the “Red Priest” Vivaldi will always be the most famous of them all.

“If you like baroque music, dear listeners, then don’t miss this concert. On this occasion we are offering you the most essential chamber woodwind music from the first half of the 18th century, and our main destinations will be Dresden, Prague and Venice. Come with us on this beautiful round trip!”

The fourth chamber concert by the PKF — Prague Philharmonia this season will bring you the best in baroque music. The excellent programme revolves around three cultural centres of Europe at that time — Prague, Dresden and Venice. All of the composers either worked or wrote for these cities. You can, therefore, hear the mutual influences as well the musical differences resulting from their differing natures.

The concert presents the lighter baroque Trio Sonata in C major for two oboes, bassoon and basso continuo by Arcangelo Califano. This is followed by the Trio Sonata in G minor by Johann Friedrich Fasch. The whole evening then culminates with the Trio Sonata No. 2 in G minor by the Czech composer Jan Dismas Zelenka. He also connects all three cities as he studied in Prague and Venice and his life as a composer is linked to the Dresden court orchestra. This composition is well-known amongst the broader public and so I am sure that you will enjoy the familiar melodies during the concert.

At the same time, it is also necessary to add that this represents the absolute peak of the art of woodwind music. In particular, the composition by Jan Dismas Zelenka is literally at the extremes of these instruments’ capabilities. Even today many musicians have problems with it as it is such a technically demanding piece. So we will have the chance to hear the virtuosic side of the oboe and bassoon, which will certainly not disappoint!

Dalibor Tkadlčík — patron of the concert

Sonata à 4 in C major for 2 Oboes, Bassoon and Basso Continuo
Sonata in G minor for 2 Oboes, Bassoon and Basso Continuo
Sonata à 4 in C major RV 801
Sonata No. 2 in G minor & No. 5 in F major for 2 Oboes, Bassoon and Basso Continuo ZWV 181

Jan Souček & Vladislav Borovka — oboe
Ondřej Šindelář — bassoon 
Filip Dvořák — harpsichord
Petr Ries double bass

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