Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741) was an Italian
Baroque musical composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher,
and priest. Born in Venice, the capital of the Venetian
Republic, he is regarded as one of the greatest Baroque
composers, and his influence during his lifetime was
widespread across Europe. He composed many instrumental
concertos, for the violin and a variety of other
instruments, as well as sacred choral works and more
than forty operas. His best-known work is a series of
violin concertos known as the Four Seasons.
The epithet 'Folia' has several meanings in music.
Western classical music features both an "early Folia,"
which can take different shapes, and the better-known
"later Folia" (also known as "Follia" with double l in
Italy, "Folies d'Espagne" in France, and "Faronel's
Ground" in England). "Early Folia": Recent research
suggests that the origin of the folia framework lies in
the application of a specific compositional and
improvisational method to simple melodies in minor
mode. Thus, the essence of the "early Folia" was not a
specific theme or a fixed sequence of chords but rather
a compositional-improvisational process which could
generate these sequences of chords. The "later Folia"
is a standard chord progression and usually features a
standard or "stock" melody line, a slow sarabande in
triple meter, as its initial theme. This theme
generally appears at the start and end of a given
"Folia" composition, serving as "bookends" for a set of
variations within which both the melodic line and even
the meter may vary. In turn, written variations on the
"later Folia" may give way to sections consisting of
partial or pure improvisation similar to those
frequently encountered in the twelve-bar blues that
rose to prominence in the twentieth century. Several
sources report that Jean-Baptiste Lully was the first
composer to formalize the standard chord progression
and melodic line.
The music's chord progression eventually associated
with the "later Folia" appeared in musical sources
almost a century before the first documented use of the
"Folia" name. The progression emerged between the end
of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th
century in vocal repertory found in both Italian
("Canzoniere di Montecassino", "Canzoniere di Perugia"
and in the frottola repertoire) and Spanish sources
(mainly in the "Cancionero Musical de Palacio" and,
some years later, in the ensaladas repertoire). Even
though the folía framework appeared almost at the same
time in different countries with numerous variants that
share similar structural features, it is not possible
to establish in which country the framework originated.
Over the course of three centuries, more than 150
composers have used it in their works.
The first publications of this theme date from the
middle of the 17th century, but it is probably much
older. Plays of the renaissance theatre in Portugal,
including works by Gil Vicente, mention the folia as a
dance performed by shepherds or peasants. The
Portuguese origin is recorded in the 1577 treatise De
musica libri septem by Francisco de Salinas.
Jean-Baptiste Lully, along with Philidor l'aîné in
1672, Arcangelo Corelli in 1700, Marin Marais in 1701,
Alessandro Scarlatti in 1710, Antonio Vivaldi in his
Opus 1 No 12 of 1705, Francesco Geminiani in his
Concerto Grosso Number 12 (which was, in fact, part of
a collection of direct transcriptions of Corelli's
violin sonatas), George Frederick Handel in the
Sarabande of his Keyboard Suite in D minor HWV 437 of
1727, and Johann Sebastian Bach in his Peasants'
Cantata of 1742 are considered to highlight this
'later' folia repeating theme in a brilliant way.
Antonio Salieri's 26 variations, produced late in his
career, are among his finest works. In the 19th
century, Franz Liszt included a version of the Folia in
his Rhapsodie Espagnole, and Ludwig van Beethoven
quoted it briefly in the second movement of his Fifth
Symphony. La Folia once again regained composers'
interest during the 1930s with Sergei Rachmaninov in
his Variations on a theme by Corelli in 1931 and Manuel
María Ponce and his Variations on "Spanish Folia" and
Fugue for guitar. The folia melody has also influenced
Scandinavian folk music. It is possible to recognize a
common structure in many Swedish folk tunes, and it is
similar to the folia structure.
Although originally created for 2 Violins & Continuo, I
created this Interpretation of "La Folia" Trio Sonata
in D Minor (RV 63) for Piano.