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Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice on March 4th, 1678. Though ordained a priest in 1703, according to his own account, within a year of being ordained Vivaldi no longer wished to celebrate mass because of physical complaints ("tightness of the chest") which pointed to angina pectoris, asthmatic bronchitis, or a nervous disorder. It is also possible that Vivaldi was simulating illness - there is a story that he sometimes left the altar in order to quickly jot down a musical idea in the sacristy.... In any event he had become a priest against his own will, perhaps because in his day training for the priesthood was often the only possible way for a poor family to obtain free schooling.
Though he wrote many fine and memorable concertos, such as the Four Seasons and the Opus 3 for example, he also wrote many works which sound like five-finger exercises for students. And this is precisely what they were. Vivaldi was employed for most of his working life by the Ospedale della Pieta. Often termed an "orphanage", this Ospedale was in fact a home for the female offspring of noblemen and their numerous dalliances with their mistresses. The Ospedale was thus well endowed by the "anonymous" fathers; its furnishings bordered on the opulent, the young ladies were well looked-after, and the musical standards among the highest in Venice. Many of Vivaldi's concerti were indeed exercises which he would play with his many talented pupils.

Vivaldi's relationship with the Ospedale began right after his ordination in 1703, when he was named as violin teacher there. Until 1709, Vivaldi's appointment was renewed every year and again after 1711. Between 1709 and 1711 Vivaldi was not attached to the Ospedale. Perhaps in this period he was already working for the Teatro Sant' Angelo, an opera theater. He also remained active as a composer - in 1711 twelve concertos he had written were published in Amsterdam by the music publisher Estienne Roger under the title l'Estro armonico (Harmonic Inspiration).

In 1713, Vivaldi was given a month's leave from the Ospedale della Pieta in order to stage his first opera, Ottone in villa, in Vicenza. In the 1713-4 season he was once again attached to the Teatro Sant' Angelo, where he produced an opera by the composer Giovanni Alberto Rostori (1692-1753).

As far as his theatrical activities were concerned, the end of 1716 was a high point for Vivaldi. In November, he managed to have the Ospedale della Pieta perform his first great oratorio, Juditha Triumphans devicta Holofernis barbaric. This work was an allegorical description of the victory of the Venetians (the Christians) over the Turks (the barbarians) in August 1716.

At the end of 1717 Vivaldi moved to Mantua for two years in order to take up his post as Chamber Capellmeister at the court of Landgrave Philips van Hessen-Darmstadt. His task there was to provide operas, cantatas, and perhaps concert music, too. His opera Armida had already been performed earlier in Mantua and in 1719 Teuzzone and Tito Manlio followed. On the score of the latter are the words: "music by Vivaldi, made in 5 days." Furthermore, in 1720 La Conduce o siano Li veri amici was performed.

In 172O Vivaldi returned to Venice where he again staged new operas written by himself in the Teatro Sant' Angelo. In Mantua he had made the acquaintance of the singer Anna Giraud (or Giro), and she had moved in to live with him. Vivaldi maintained that she was no more than a housekeeper and good friend, just like Anna's sister, Paolina, who also shared his house.

In his Memoires, the Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni gave the following portrait of Vivaldi and Giraud: "This priest, an excellent violinist but a mediocre composer, has trained Miss Giraud to be a singer. She was young, born in Venice, but the daughter of a French wigmaker. She was not beautiful, though she was elegant, small in stature, with beautiful eyes and a fascinating mouth. She had a small voice, but many languages in which to harangue." Vivaldi stayed together with her until his death.   ... more

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Lung Cancer
Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in our society. During 1995, approximately 2.1 million people in developed countries died as a result of smoking. One tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in five deaths in the United States. Lung Cancer mortality are about 23 times higher for current male smokers and 13 times higher for current female smokers compared to a lifelong never-smoker. In addition to being responsible for 87% of lung cancers, smoking is also associated with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, uterine cervix, kidney, and bladder. Smoking accounts for at least 29% of all cancer deaths, is a major cause of heart disease, and is associated with conditions ranging from colds and gastric ulcers to chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and cerebrovascular disease. Women have a better chance in getting lung cancer then men do. This year the disease will kill 68,000 women in the United States, more than one and a half times as many as breast cancer. Even if a woman smoked for awhile and quit, her chances are much greater then a man that smoked 2 times longer then the woman did. Scientists still dont know all the reasons why this happens. With 23 million women still smoking. Lung cancer will remain a deadly epidemic threatening the lives of millions of women. Second hand smoke, also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is a human carcinogen. Each year about 3,000 nonsmoking adults die of lung cancer as a result breathing the smoke of others cigarettes. Second hand smoking causes an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 deaths from heart disease in people who are not current smokers. It also causes respiratory problems in nonsmokers such as, coughing, phlegm, chest discomfort, and reduced lung function. Each year, exposure to secondhand smoke causes 150,000 to 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in U.S. infants and children younger then 18 Page 2 months of age. These infections result in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations every year. Children exposed to secondhand smoke at home are more likely to have middle-ear disease and reduced lung function. Secondhand smoke increases the number of asthma attacks and the severity of asthma in about 20% of this countrys two to five million asthmatic children. The number of people who die or suffer illness because of its use, best measure tobacco costs to our society. Tobacco use also drains the US economy of more than $100 billion in health care costs and lost productivity. Tobacco costs Medicare more than $10 billion and Medicaid more than $5 billion per year. Lost economic productivity causes by smoking costs the US economy $47.2 billion in 1990. The total economic costs of smoking are more than $100 billion per year. People, who quit, regardless of age, live longer than people who continue to smoke. Smokers who quit before the age of 50 have half the risk of dying in the next 15 years compared with those who continue to smoke. Quitting smoking substantially decreases the risk of lung laryngeal, esophageal, oral, pancreatic, bladder, and cervical cancers. Benefits of cessation include risk reduction for other major disease including coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. In 1994, an estimated 69% of current smokers reported that they wanted to quit smoking completely. Quit attempts, abstaining from smoking for at least one day during the preceding 12 months, were made by about 46% of current every-day smokers. There has been a revival in the use of all forms of smokeless tobacco, plug, leaf, and snuff, but the greatest cause for concern centers on the increased use of dipping Page 3 snuff. Doing this, tobacco that has been processed into a coarse, moist powder is placed between the cheek and gum, and nicotine, along with a number of carcinogens, is absorbed through the oral tissue. Dipping snuff is highly addictive, and exposes the body to levels of nicotine equal to those of cigarettes. Oral cancer occurs several times more frequently among snuff dippers compared with non-tobacco users. The excess risk of cancer of the cheek and gum may reach nearly 50-fold among long term snuff users. According to the US department of Agriculture, US output of moist snuff has risen 83%, from about 30 ... more

asthmatic bronchitis

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