Every day, Antonio Vivaldi composes a new orchestral piece, and every day, the orphan Candida transcribes Vivaldi's masterpiece into sheet music for the Invisible Orchestra. Nobody notices Candida or appreciates her hard work.
But one day Candida accidentally slips a poem she wrote into the sheet music and the girl so often behind the shadows gets recognized for her own talents. Vivaldi really did have an Invisible Orchestra made up of orphan girls he taught to play. This beautiful book pays tribute to their inspiration.
This semifictional backstory to The Four Seasons draws on Vivaldi's role as music master at Venice's Ospedale della Piet , an orphanage renowned for its all-girl orchestra (the girls performed concealed by a curtain, hence the title). Costanza (Mozart Finds a Melody) imagines that a young, irrepressible musical copyist, Candida, actually inspired the naming of The Four Seasons (and the unattributed sonnets that accompany the music) by scribbling seasonally themed verse beside the evocative notes as she made sheet music for each player ("She imagined herself skating on the frozen canals. My teeth chatter with the frozen cold,' she said"). It's a laudable idea to enrich understanding of a composition so ubiquitous it's become synonymous with hold music, and Costanza's velvety pastel pictures, with their doll-like characterizations, dreamy settings, and palette of Venetian blues and greens, lends a fairy tale feel to the story. Though readers will probably want to know more about the girls' unusual lives than Costanza tells them, he plants the seeds of musical appreciation amid somewhat unfocused storytelling. Ages 6 10.