Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Betsy Schwarm
  • Director Vessela Dantcheva, Ivan Bogdanov
  • Animator Vessela Dantcheva, Ivan Bogdanov
  • Illustrator Vessela Dantcheva, Ivan Bogdanov
  • Producer Vessela Dantcheva
  • Sound Designer Big Banda Soundscapers
  • Composer Antonio Vivaldi
  • Music Performance Big Banda Soundscapers
  • Narrator Betsy Schwarm


Additional Resources for you to Explore
Enthralled by this wonderful music? Want to learn more about its creator and the music itself? Here’s a link to an Encyclopedia Britannica article about Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. The article was written by Professor Betsy Schwarm, who also wrote, and provided the voice for this Ted ED lesson. It includes the full texts of the poems that were published with the music; these tell us what seasonal scenes Vivaldi had in mind for the music. The poems are given both in the original Italian and also in English translations. With the poems in hand so as to have even greater detail, listen again to one (or all) of The Four Seasons, and try to determine when the music has moved on to the next line – or the next verse – of the poem.

Here’s a YouTube video of all of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, played in concert by the Dutch violinist Janine Jansen with an orchestra called the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. The entire video is about forty minutes long, as each of the concertos is roughly nine minutes long, and all four are performed. However, Spring comes up first, so let’s begin with that; you can go on to the others if you have time. Watch the performance with attention, noticing things such as intensity, body language, eye contact between performers, and so on. How does watching – rather than just listening – bring out more about what’s happening in the music?

Additionally, notice the small keyboard instrument in the middle of the ensemble. It’s a “harpsichord,” which is a predecessor of the piano. Although their keys are laid out in the same way, harpsichords sound different from pianos due to having a different mechanism. The strings inside the instrument are plucked, rather than being punched, which gives the instrument a rather light sound that can be hard to hear in louder music. By watching the Jansen video again, you can likely pick out the sound of the harpsichord, at least occasionally; he doesn’t play every single moment, but it’s there. This was a very popular feature in most music of Vivaldi’s time in history, which in music is called the Baroque Era.

Here’s a YouTube video of a composition by one of Vivaldi’s contemporaries. Take some time to listen and compare. It’s the Brandenburg Concerto no. 4 by Johann Sebastian Bach, and it has some commonalities with Vivaldi’s Spring. Both have three movements – a fast one, then a slow one, then a fast one – and both begin with a “ritornello” form. However, the instruments are not all the same, and the Bach piece isn’t “program music”, so there’s no story to be told. Also, the two composers had different reputations in their time; one was a major pop star, the other a composer with a more intellectual reputation. Can you theorize as to which was which and why? What do you see and hear that’s different from one piece to the other? You might especially compare the third (last) movements of the two concertos, as the differences are most noticeable there.

The version of The Four Seasons played throughout this video comes from the European Archive, which you download here.