Detlef Steffenhagen

The "Four Seasons" by Antonio Vivaldi first time on the organ

This transcription of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" prepared by myself is, as far as I know, the first and one and only complete organ version of this famous work.

This is all the more astonishing because there is a long tradition of transcriptions, especially of violin concertos to the organ.

No less than Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) probably made several organ and harpsichord works of Vivaldi's concerts around 1714.

Bach had a sort of creative rivalry with Johann Gottfried Walther (1690-1758) as to who would first transcribe the latest "Concerts in the italian manner" to the organ.

One can assume that a musician like Bach, who was alway interested in the music of his contemporaries, transcribed instrumental works to the organ without writing down every transcription.

An organ edition of the Four Season was long overdue, in that the organ, with its huge pitch range (larger than a symphony orchestra) and millions of possibilties of timbres, was perfectly suitable.

The nature scenes portrayed in Vivaldi's poems, as well those in his own composed works, are much more noticeable on an organ than with a string orchestra.

Just think of the birdsong and the bag-pipe pieces in "Spring", the thunder and lightning in "Summer", the bugle in "Autumn" and the raindrops and freezing ice in "Winter".

In the transcription, a baroque work in the classical-romantic representations of Nature style, as known from Beethoven and Liszt, was newly "instrumented" for the organ.

To some Vivaldi fans, this verison of the Four Seasons might seem strange, but it might also appear in a whole new light.

The great interest in the performances of this version has really shown that such experimentation makes it possible to not only win fans, but also a whole new listening audience.

Detlef Steffenhagen