Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater: Music of Sorrow and Solitude

Antonio Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater, RV. 621 was first performed during Holy Week in 1712 at Santa Maria della Pace in the Northern Italian city of Brescia. The text, a 13th century poem which has been attributed to numerous authors, is a sorrowful meditation on Mary’s suffering during the crucifixion of Christ.

Scored for solo alto (originally castrato) and orchestra, Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater sets only the first ten of the poem’s twenty stanzas. Its eight movements draw us into a drama which is intimate and solitary. With a sense of economy and stasis, we are confined to an inner world of anguish and lament. Harmonically, the music remains locked in two keys—F minor and C minor, with a glimmer of sunlight arriving only with the final “Amen.” Melodically, movements 4 through 6 are a repeat of the opening three movements. A descending two-note ostinato figure in the Eia Mater evokes the gradual slipping away of life, or perhaps the drip of tears.

This 1995 recording features the German countertenor, Andreas Scholl, with Chiara Banchini and Ensemble 415:


Featured Image: the cupola of Santa Maria della Pace in Brescia where Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater was first performed, photograph by RobyBS89

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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