Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Famous Drunk Guys: Vivaldi

I had lunch today with one of my friends and faithful readers, and she mentioned that she can't wait to hear all about the wine and chocolate festival in Lodi. However, I wanted to be sure to acknowledge a very important person in the classical music world.

Today is the three hundred and thirty-first birthday of Antonio Vivaldi. While he may not have technically been drunk, he was Italian in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, so it's highly likely that he drank wine. Caricatures show that he had a big nose, all the better to get that important first sensory smell impression, so -- this is pure speculation -- he could have even been an oenophile, or wine lover.

Vivaldi's best known work is, of course, The Four Seasons, four violin concertos that have been used as background music for everything from commercials to movies to the Italy Pavilion at EPCOT when I was there in 2002. He composed many many other pieces of music including operas and sacred works.

What should you drink while listening to Vivaldi? It depends on your mood. Some describe his work as playful, so perhaps a fun red like the 2007 Quattro Mani Montepulciano, which is smooth and fruity, like a blackberry pie in a glass, would be appropriate. Also, I believe that "Quattro Mani" means "four hands," and The Four Seasons has been transcribed for piano in a four-hands arrangement. I wouldn't recommend it after having drunk a lot of wine, but it may be fun to try after a glass or two as long as your playing partner is someone you know fairly well.

If you're in a more effervescent mood, try a Prosecco. These can be a little rough, but I do like the Zefiro Prosecco (Veneto), which has a lovely cream soda nose and is mellow on the palate.

Okay, now that I've given a nod to culture, I have to admit that I don't really have any Vivaldi playing in the background. The CD that is currently living in my stereo system is U2's new album, No Line on the Horizon. However, Vivaldi influenced everyone after him including the great J.S. Bach.

So, happy birthday, Vivaldi! Your music will always make me think about cute Italian guys, gelato, and, of course, wine.

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