Rediscovery of work is an important yet dramatic chapter of Vivaldi’s history. It is mainly because although a substantial amount of his work had been printed during his lifetime, largely by the Amsterdam printer Estienne Roger, only a few copies of these editions had survived. The dates of the compositions were not even documented.

In the autumn of 1926, a religious boarding school in Piedmont run by Salesian Fathers discovered a large amount of old volumes which he wanted to sell to antique dealers due to a shortage of funds for its boarding school. They contacted the National Library in Turin to value the material.

This matter was later handled over to Dr. Alberto Gentili, professor of music history at Turin University, whom discovered volumes and volumes of Vivaldi autographs in amazement.

Controlling his overwhelming emotions , Dr. Alberto Gentili soon realised that in order to preserve this manuscript as a whole, steps had to be undertaken in utmost secrecy. Since the Turin is short of funds to acquire the collection from the Salesians, Dr. Gentili went begging and managed to find a public-spirited Turinese who agreed to purchase the collection and donate it to the Turin Library in memory of his deceased infant boy.

Studying through the individual volumes carefully, Dr. Gentili soon discovered that the pages of some volumes had been bound randomly, failing to show logical connection. An investigation was carried out which reveal the fact that the collection had been assembled by the Genoese Count Giacomo Durazzo (1717-1794), who was the Austrian Ambassador in Venice. A great deal of searching had to be done to find living members of the Durazzo family and other potential owners of the original collections.

After much effort, the complete collection
was finally retrieved. However, Turin library was
haunted by the same financial problem as before.
Once more, Dr Gentili was forced to go begging,
searching for a willing sponsor. Finally he made
contact with a Turinese industrialist who had lost
a small child and provided the necessary sum for
the purchase of the manuscript, donating the
collection to the Turin Library in the name of his

Had it not been Dr Alberto Gentili’s tireless efforts
and ingenuity, the bulk of Vivaldi’s collection would not be saved.

A Vivaldi week was held in Siena in September 1939, to celebrate the establishment of the Turin Collections. During the celebration, there was an official issuance of the complete works of the great Venetian master.  However, this entire project had to be put on hold because of the outbreak of the war.

After the liberation of Italy, Antonio Fanna, a young Venetian businessman and fervent admirer of Vivaldi, founded the Istituto Italiano Antonio Vivaldi for the publication and promotion of Vivaldi's music and enlisted the cooperation of the Casa Ricordi, the greatest Italian music publishing house.

However, because of the difficult post-war condition, the Ricordi printing presses had later been bombed and their warehouses burned down.

After the post-war reconstruction, the newly discovered Vivaldi items were put into publication and were soon heard in Italy, and throughout Europe.

In London, the Royal Festival Hall had devoted almost an entire season to the exciting and varied works of Antonio Vivaldi, the baroque masters that was once obscured. This had enabled Vivaldi to elevate to his present status as the great Italian contemporary of Bach and Handel.  

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~Written by Boon Sin Ler