Pictured: Rick Wakeman
Antonio Vivaldi’s the Four Seasons is the most popular piece of classical music of all time. There have been over 1000 different recordings , selling tens of millions of copies. It’s become so ubiquitous – in lifts, as phone ring tones or on call-centre answering machines – that it has been denounced as Muzak for the middle classes.
Rick Wakeman – platinum-selling prog rock keyboardist and television Grumpy Old Man – thinks the critics are wrong. He believes that the Four Seasons was so far ahead of its time that it was actually the first ever concept album – and that Vivaldi was the world’s first rock superstar.
But how could a sickly 18th century priest create the prototype for Rick’s very modern genre? And why did Vivaldi and the Four Seasons disappear into obscurity for more than 200 years after his death?
Rick turns detective to solve the mystery: his journey takes him to Venice – in the 18th century the most debauched city on the planet – where he encounters some of those who have devoted their lives to studying and worshipping Vivaldi … and uncovers the whiff of a very modern rock star sex scandal. Which may have contributed to Vivaldi’s downfall.
But the investigation also leads Rick to unexpected places and people. He meets fellow prog rocker Mike Rutherford from Genesis and debates whose band Vivaldi would join; and he encounters the Croatian arranger and keyboard player whose multi-national assembly of musicians is turning the Four Seasons into heavy metal.
Along the way Rick also discovers the only existing original score for the Four Seasons … in just about the last place anyone would have thought to find it…
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