Concerto in E major · RV 762
ed. Paul Everett
The present concerto, RV 762, is here published for the first time in its original key and in an edition based on an authoritative source. It is one of numerous concertos by Vivaldi known to have been played by Anna Maria, the most celebrated of the many remarkable performers produced by the Ospedale della Pietà, the Venetian charitable institution with which the composer was associated for much of his career. And yet it is, besides RV 286 in F major, the only violin concerto of his for which a source inscribed with the name of the virtuosa has survived complete.1
Perhaps it was composed especially as a showpiece for her; it is certain, at least, that the date of the work falls well within the long period, 1720–37, when she was the principal violinist of the Pietà who normally took the solo part in concertos. Recent research has uncovered a wealth of information about Anna Maria and her extraordinarily long life, of which only a little can be summarized here.2
Born in 1695 or 1696, she was, like all the wards of the Pietà, a foundling accepted into the institution as an infant. Having been selected as a figlia di coro around 1706 and trained in music, she began, in 1712, to participate in public performances as a probationary member of the coro, the Pietà’s all-female ensemble of around forty players and singers. By the time she was confirmed in the coro in 1720 and permitted, from 1721, to take pupils of her own, she had emerged as the institution’s most talented violinist, as well as a fine player of the viola d’amore, the theorbo and, reputedly, cello, lute, mandolin and harpsichord. The accounts of various visitors to Venice, including the composer J. J. Quantz, attest to her great skill; in an opinion expressed on 15 May 1730 by Baron Carl Ludwig von Poellnitz, she is “le premier violon d’Italie”. Anna Maria’s career as a soloist ended in 1737 when the governors of the Pietà promoted her to maestra di coro, and she remained in that senior post, one of two with responsibility for the administration and musical direction of the coro, until her death in 1782. RV 762 exists in two distinct versions. The present edition is based exclusively on a partly autograph manuscript preserved in Manchester, described below, giving the work in E major. The other version of the work, in D major, was originally entered in Peter Ryom’s catalogue, according to its key, as RV 223 (a code that has since been withdrawn), and published in modern edition in 1970, before the Manchester manuscript ever came to light.3
The sole source for the D-major version is a manuscript in Paris of French provenance, copied c 1740 in a single hand, that has no apparent connection with Vivaldi himself. Numbered 28 in the so-called “Opera prima” within the Fonds Blancheton, it consists of seven separate parts, including some duplicates, named as follows:4
principal violin: Violino Principale
first violin: Violino Terzo
second violin: Violino Secondo, Violino Quarto
viola: Alto viola
basso: Violoncello, Organo(both unfigured)
All readings in the Paris manuscript that differ from their Manchester equivalents are recorded in the Textual Notes, below, so that users may, if they wish, construct the Paris version in complete detail. The Manchester manuscript, discovered in the early 1970s, exists in a large collection of Italian music now known as “The Manchester Concerto Partbooks”.5
Since the history and contents of this significant collection, representative of the heyday of the Italian concerto, are assessed in detail elsewhere, only a summary needs to be given here.6
The volumes contain sets of separate parts for 95 compositions, mostly concertos, that came into the possession of Charles Jennens, well-known as the librettist for Handel’s Messiah and other works; later they passed to the music libraries of the earls of Aylesford and Sir Newman Flower. It was Jennens who had acquired the music from Italy and had it bound in its existing volumes. Earlier, in its unbound state, the collection had almost certainly been part of a much larger corpus: the music amassed over many years at the court of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, sold off after the illustrious patron’s death in 1740. The diverse contents of the concerto collection suggest that the cardinal’s musicians acquired and performed music from artistic centres elsewhere (notably Venice and Bologna) as well as works composed locally. Catalogued as item 79, the set of five parts for RV 762 belongs to a particularly intriguing group of manuscripts within the collection: twelve Vivaldi concertos (including RV 286, mentioned earlier) written out in the mid- 1720s on Venetian music-paper by the composer himself and scribes working under his supervision.7
Vivaldi’s purpose in producing these copies appears to have been to provide them, together with the Venetian copy of Le quattro stagioni that also survives in the Manchester collection, for use at the court in Rome of Pietro Ottoboni, from whom the composer received occasional patronage in the 1720s. It is possible, indeed, that Vivaldi delivered some or all of this music during the cardinal’s five-month residence in Venice in 1726.8
His determination to mention Anna Maria on the copies of RV 762 and 286 suggests that Ottoboni may have seen her perform these concertos very recently. The five parts’ original nomenclature and location within the partbooks are as follows:9
principal violin: Violino Principale
volume VII, ff. 96–8 first violin: Vo Po.
volume VIII, ff. 63–4 second violin: Vo 2o.
volume IX, f. 49 viola: Violetta
volume XI, f. 43 basso: Basso
volume XIII, V. 71–2 The four non-solo parts are in the hand of an unidentified professional copyist known to have been active in Venice during the 1720s and 1730s, referred to in recent literature as “scribe 2”.10 Beginning with a title-page that originally read “Concerto | Del Sig:e D. Ant:o Viualdi | Violino Principale”, the solo part is in the hand of the composer’s most trusted assistant: “scribe 4”, suspected to be Antonio’s father, Giovanni Battista Vivaldi (1655–1736).11 As other manuscripts attest, scribe 4 was frequently entrusted with the responsibility for copying whole compositions without intervention from the composer. In this case the division of labour hints that he oversaw the whole job, including the contribution of scribe 2; the use, for all five parts, of a single variety of music-paper also points to that conclusion.12
The only detectable action by Antonio Vivaldi is his addition to the title-page, in the space between the lines “Del...Viualdi” and “Violino Principale”, of the words “p[er] la S:a Anna M:a alla Pieta” – referring to her as “suora” (sister), the appropriate title for a figlia di coro below the rank of maestra. Comparison of the Manchester and Paris texts, provided in detail elsewhere, illuminates the inadequacies of the latter.13
Moreover, it casts doubt on the authenticity of D major as the tonic key for this concerto; several Paris readings that are incorrect in that tonality but would be correct if read in the higher key of the Manchester version hint at the work’s transposition from E major, in the course of its transmission, in a way probably not instigated by Vivaldi. (See, for example, notes 3–6 in the entry in the Textual Notes for bar 28 in the slow movement.) The notion that E major is the concerto’s “proper” key is further supported by the fact that the last movement is concordant with the finale of RV 263a, a concerto in E major published as the fourth work in Vivaldi’s ninth collection (La cetra, Amsterdam, 1727). With regard to the most substantial diVerences between the two versions, the Paris manuscript is of value for the way it transmits (albeit erratically and in transposed form) a state in which the music must have existed before Vivaldi made certain revisions to his original score: see, in particular, the entries in the Textual Notes for bars 56–62 in the first movement and 56–7 in the finale. Except in minor respects, readings in the finale of RV 263a match those of the Manchester manuscript.
Cork, October 2000
1 Another document bearing her name provides much music but no entire works: a partbook preserved in the Correr (Esposti) collection, shelfmark B. 55 n. 133, in the library of the Conservatorio di Musica "Benedetto Marcello", Venice. Compiled over several years in the mid-1720s, it contains only the solo violin parts for 31 concertos, of which at least 24 are by Vivaldi. For analysis of this source, see Michael Talbot, "Anna Maria's Partbook", in the proceedings of the conference La musica degli ospedali veneziani fra Seicento e inizio Ottocento (Venice, 2001), forthcoming. I am grateful to the author for making his typescript available to me.
2 The most recent writings, supplementing (and not infrequently correcting) earlier scholarship, are Michael Talbot, "Sacred Music at the Ospedale della Piet. in Venice in the Time of Handel", H„ndel-Jahrbuch, 46 (2000), pp. 125-56; idem, "Anna Maria", in Stanley Sadie (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edn. (MacMillan, London, 2001), vol. 1, p. 691; and Mickey White, "Biographical Notes on the 'Figlie di coro' of the Piet… contemporary with Vivaldi", Informazioni e studi vivaldiani, 21 (2000), pp. 75-96.
3 The edition, prepared by Gian Francesco Malipiero, is volume 494 in Antonio Vivaldi, Opere strumentali (Ricordi, Milan, 1947-72).
4 Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, shelfmark R,s. 446. On the history and contents of the Fonds Blancheton, see Lionel de la Laurencie, Inventaire Critique du Fonds Blancheton de la BibliothŠque du Conservertoire de Paris, 2 vols. (Publications de la Soci‚t‚ Fran‡aise de Musicologie, Paris, 1930).
5 Central Library, Manchester, shelfmark MS 580 Ct 51. We are grateful to Manchester Public Libraries for permission to use this source for the present edition.
6 See Paul Everett, The Manchester Concerto Partbooks (Garland, New York & London, 1989).
7 This group is discussed at length in Everett, op. cit., pp. 123-222, and in the same writer's "Vivaldi Concerto Manuscripts in Manchester: II", Informazioni e studi vivaldiani, 6 (1985), pp. 3-55.
8 Evidence linking some of these Manchester sources (including that of Le quattro stagioni) with the year 1726 is given on pp. xxxviii-xxxix in Michael Talbot & Paul Everett, "Homage to a French King. Two Serenatas by Vivaldi (Venice, 1725 and ca. 1726)", the prefatory essay to Antonio Vivaldi, Due serenate, Drammaturgia Musicale Veneta, 15 (Ricordi, Milan, 1995).
9 Details of the structure and layout of the separate parts are given in Everett, Manchester Concerto Partbooks, cit., pp. 511-12.
10 Documents penned by him, including music by Hasse, Orlandini and Vinci, are listed in Paul Everett, "Vivaldi's Italian Copyists", Informazioni e studi vivaldiani, 11 (1990), pp. 27-86: 49.
11 Ibid., pp. 33-7 & 50-3.
12 The variety of paper in question, type "A", employed also for the manuscripts of four other manuscripts in the same group including rv 286, is described in Everett, Manchester Concerto Partbooks, cit., pp. 526-7. Its occurrence, rare among Vivaldi manuscripts in general, points to a dating around 1725-6; see Talbot & Everett, "Homage to a French King", cit., p. xxxix.
13 The comprehensive analysis in Everett, Manchester Concerto Partbooks, cit., pp. 144-54, is summarized in "Vivaldi Concerto Manuscripts in Manchester: II", cit., pp. 25-6.
14 Documentary evidence of the size and complexion of the coro is assessed in Michael Talbot, The Sacred Vocal Music of Antonio Vivaldi (Olschki, Florence, 1995), pp. 95-8.
15 Talbot's translation (ibid., p. 97) of Nemeitz, Nachlese besonderer Nachrichten von Italien (Gleditsch, Leipzig, 1726), p. 61.