Through a Modern Lens: Vivaldi’s "Four Seasons"

Jul 20, 2017

Antonio Vivaldi wrote over 500 concertos for various instruments. Today, most people know four of them. The Four Seasons for violin and chamber orchestra can be heard in countless movie soundtracks and TV ads. Many modern composers have been so inspired by the concertos that they have reimagined them in their own style. One such composer is Max Richter of Germany.

German composer Max Richter
Credit Erik Weiss

Richter follows the generally outline of the compositions while diverging from the specifics. “The thing about Vivaldi,” Richter says, “is that it’s constructed in a way that really lets you in. The movements are quite concise, but on a micro level it is modular music, made of these little atoms. You can pull them apart easily, sort of like a Lego kit.”

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa encore broadcast features the wcfsymphony’s “Four Seasons I” concert. The orchestra performs Summer and Autumn from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons alongside Max Richter’s new versions of the pieces.

Vivaldi’s classic is paired with Richter’s contemporary rendition of the same piece, both performed by two of Iowa’s finest violinists, Dr. Ross Monroe Winter and Anita Tucker. Please tune in on Monday, July 24th at 7 p.m. for this Symphonies of Iowa encore broadcast!


VIVALDI           Summer and Autumn from The Four Seasons

RICHTER         The Four Seasons Recomposed: Summer & Autumn


Ross Winter, violin

Anita Tucker, violin

(Concert recorded Oct. 8, 2016)

Antonio Vivaldi – Sonnets for the Four Seasons



“Allegro non molto”

Beneath the blazing sun’s relentless heat men and

flocks are sweltering, pines are scorched.

We hear the cuckoo’s voice; then sweet songs of the

turtle dove and finch are heard.

Soft breezes stir the air…but threatening north winds

sweep them suddenly aside.

The shepherd trembles, fearful of a violent storm and

what may lie ahead.

“Adagio e piano – Presto e forte”

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.


Alas, his worst fears were justified, as the heavens

roar and great hailstones beat down upon the proudly

standing corn.




With song and dance, the peasant celebrates the

harvest safely gathered in.

The cup of Bacchus flows freely, and revelers find their

relief in deep slumber.

“Adagio molto”

The singing and dancing die away as cooling breezes

fan the pleasant air, inviting all to sleep without a care.


The hunters emerge at dawn, ready for the chase

with horns and dogs and cries.

Their quarry flees while they give chase.

Terrified and wounded, the prey struggles on, but,

harried, dies.