Born in Venice on March 4, 1678, Vivaldi was ordained at 25 and nicknamed "The Red Priest" for his shock of red hair. He disliked giving Mass -- blaming a medical condition now thought to be asthma -- and took an appointment teaching violin at a Venetian girls' orphanage. Including the ubiquitous "The Four Seasons," Vivaldi's concertos -- marked by vigorous energy and thematic uniformity -- earned him wide renown and remain his greatest legacy. Starting with a 1717 position on the court of the prince Phillip of Hesse-Darmstadt, Vivaldi had unrivaled popularity among European royals, yielding numerous commissions (including Louis XV's wedding cantata "Gloria e Imeneo") and a knighting from Emperor Charles VI. By the 1730s, Vivaldi's popularity faded, leaving him in financial ruin at his death in July of 1741.
Researchers unearthed over a dozen folios of his work between 1926 and 1930, which saw a revival of interest and secured his reputation as one of his era's greatest minds.