Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Now for some very little known Vivaldi

From that very musical country Australia comes the following scoop.....

'Just when the music world thought it knew every note of 18th century composer Antonio Vivaldi, a Melbourne University researcher has unearthed an important new work. Described by Vivaldi experts as the biggest find in 75 years, musicologist Janice Stockigt noticed a piece of music with distinctive bass, rhythmic and harmonic patterns in a German library in May. The music was ascribed in 1754 to composer Baldassare Galuppi. Dr Stockigt wrote in her diary, "Is this a Vivaldi?" and for the next few months followed an international trail uncovering forgery and plagiarism, much of it at the hands of an unscrupulous Venetian priest, Iseppo Baldan.

Today (August 9th) at the university's early music studio, countertenor Christopher Field, accompanied by musicians of the university's Baroque Ensemble, will play about five minutes of the 35-minute work in what is believed to be its first performance in 250 years. The work is an 11-movement Dixit Dominus based on Psalm 109 for choir and orchestra, intended to be played in church. Dr Stockigt suspects that because of a lack of additional notation on the score, this might be the first performance ever. A full performance is scheduled next year in Dresden, where Dr Stockigt discovered the manuscript in the music department of the state technical university. This will form part of the city's 800th anniversary celebrations.

When she made the discovery, Dr Stockigt had been in the last days of a five-year research project on the Catholic Church music played at the court of the German royal house of Saxony. Vivaldi was one of history's most prolific composers, with more than 800 works attributed to him, from operas to liturgical pieces. He had a distinctive style and Dr Stockigt said that after recognising the musical language, she also saw that the title page of the work was in the equally distinctive hand of the priest Baldan, who ran a music transcription house. Vivaldi had died impoverished in 1741 but Baldan had two of Vivaldi's nephews working as copyists. "It's likely that as soon as news of his death reached Venice, Vivaldi's nephews picked over his belongings - including music - before Venetian authorities made an inventory of their uncle's possessions," she said.

Dr Stockigt said Galuppi's work was in enormous demand from the Catholic court of Dresden and she suspected that Baldan was unable to keep up with demand - so he simply slipped in some Vivaldi either given to him by, or bought from, the nephews. She said the clincher to the music's source was provided by Federico Maria Sardelli, a key member of the editorial committee of the Vivaldi Institute. "He pointed out that the sixth movement of the newly discovered work was virtually identical to an aria in one of the composer's operas, La Fida Ninfa, performed in 1732," she said.

Many thanks to Elisabeth Lopez at The Age newspaper in Melbourne for giving on an overgrown path the heads-up on that very interesting story, which I've quoted verbatim. The Age's music pages are worth checking out for news from a part of the world we don't hear enough about.

If you enjoyed this post take an overgrown path to Reflections on the Philadelphia Orchestra

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2 comments:

Garth Trinkl said...

[Note: This comment relates to Bob's Reflections on the Philadelphia Orchestra June 1, 2005 post].

Bob and John Anderie,

Additional information about Oscar Hammerstein's 1908 Metropolitan Opera House (aka Philadelphia Opera House and Philadelphia Evangelistic Center (1955)), including 22 historic photographs, is available at the superb web-site of Philadelphia Architects and Buildings:

http://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/pj_display.cfm/6104

To immediately view all 22 historic photographs (through 1971), see:

http://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/image_gallery.cfm?RecordId=6C03AF95-F7D1-4A0A-BB5241147C7D2279&ShowAll=9999

Unfortunately Bob, I'm not sure the church is now surrounded by expensive lofts. It sold for $225,000 in 1998 and today (2005) has a certified market value of only $175,000:

http://brtweb.phila.gov/accountDetails.aspx?an=1914000858

Valuation details are available at:

http://brtweb.phila.gov/accountDetails.aspx?an=1914000858

I remember visiting this part of North Philly once or twice as a college student in 1974 or 1975.

Pliable said...

and we keep reading here that there is a property boom in the US!. No more posts today, I'm off to our local estate agent (that's a realator I think in Microsoft English)to sell off my ticky-tacky house in rural Norfolk, UK which by the sound of it is worth a few blocks of Philadelphia. Then I'll be over.

But no. Having walked the streets around the old Metropolitan Opera house trying to find a cab after those Muti sessions I know what they are like. Maybe I'll stay here, bombs and all.

Very pleasing incidentally to find a productive an overgrown path that for once is not music. Beautiful photos, thanks Garth. I wish I could spend more time covering my other loves of architecture and art on the blog. But visit Renaissance Research instead for an inspirational blog that follows paths a lot further than music.