Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), the son of one of the leading violinists of St. Mark’s Chapel, was educated both for music and for the priesthood. He began his priestly duties in 1703, but because of ill health, was excused from active service a year later. From that time he devoted himself wholly to music, continually employed from 1704 to 1740 as conductor, composer, teacher and general superintendent of music at the Conservatory of the Pieta in Venice. The conservatories of 18th century Venice were pious institutions founded originally to shelter orphans and illegitimate children, with music training forming an important part of the curriculum. Vivaldi was continually surrounded with a throng of enthusiastic young amateurs, providing a favorable environment for his composing endeavors.
Vivaldi’s Gloria has not been dated. It is most likely to have been written for the girls at the conservatory, given the fact that it has four female solos. It can be described as being a Cantata Mass, having a text divided into separate movements, each with its own distinctive character vocally and instrumentally, yet unified by a planned tonal scheme.