On July 24th Benedetto Marcello was born and died, the composer to whom the Conservatory is named

9 August 2021

Venice, 23rd July 2021- Loggias, frescoes, paintings, stuccoes, courtyards, monumental halls and the highest terrace in Venice, from which you can enjoy an unrivalled 360-degree view of Venice. Being students of the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory is truly a privilege, both for the quality of the teaching and for the artistic and historical heritage in which students are immersed. The Conservatory is one of the most famous institutions in the world, loved both by Italians and foreigners, which has its roots in one of the most beautiful palaces of Venice, palazzo Pisani located in Campo Santo Stefano, where everything you look at is a delight for the eyes.

Tomorrow we celebrate a major recurrence, the birth and death of the composer Benedetto Marcello, born on July 24, 1686 and died the same day when he was just 53 years old. Exactly on the occasion of this anniversary from tomorrow at the Conservatory a review of six musical events entitled "Il Marcello suona" will start. 

Benedetto was a scion of the patricians Marcello, who had trained as a lawyer and from 1707 had joined the Major Council of the Serenissima too. 

“Benedetto Marcello was definitely a very significant composer in his time, even if he had been introduced to legal studies from his family"-  says the director of the Conservatory, Professor Roberto Gottipavero - he has been a magistrate, who carried out assignments for the Republic of Venice, but the passion for music and, above all, a sort of rivalry with his brother Alessandro, at a certain point convinced him to invest all his energy in the study of music". He is famous for the 50 psalms he put into music for voices and basso continuo, a very important work that has been studied by all the musicians who have followed after him and who have, in some way, given value to his compositional work. This is why, in 1800, he was highly esteemed by Verdi and Rossini but also by Antonio Buzzolla, choir master at the Basilica di San Marco, who was among the promoters of the birth of what then was the institute “liceo società e scuola musicale Benedetto Marcello” and that seems to have inspired the decision to name it after Benedetto Marcello. 

The history of the institute, then liceo musicale pareggiato (State-recognized music Institute) and lastly Regio Conservatorio (Regal Music Institute), begins in the late 1800s: a school of which Venice, that this year celebrates the 1600th anniversary since its foundation, strongly felt the need considering that other major cities such as Milan, Naples and Bologna, already had their own music institutes. It took years of discussions and fundraising to found the first institute, in 1867, which later in 1940, under the guidance of the director Gian Francesco Malipiero, became Regio Conservatorio (Regal music conservatory) as we now know it nowadays. Today the music Conservatory is a high-level institution of artistic, musical and choral education that issue first and second level academic diplomas comparable to Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees, as well as professional master’s programmes, as preparation for the Bachelor’s degree, and basic courses with an average of about 400 students per year and 86 teachers. 

“The first headquarters, from 1867 to 1880, was physically in palazzo Da Ponte, to which you can access from campo San Maurizio- the director recalls- then to alleviate the housing shortage from September 1880 until 1890 the institute moved to the “sale apollinee” of La Fenice Theatre. Finally, to answer the lack of wider and more adequate spaces, palazzo Pisani was identified as the ideal headquarters for the music Conservatory, mainly due to its large concert hall.  The Pisani palace is the biggest palace in Venice, second only to Doge’s Palace square foots: a building that contains approximately 200 rooms, most of which are uses as classrooms and offices, and that has the feature of owning the highest terrace of Venice, from which you can enjoy a view of the whole city. This is a palace that offers its students a very special atmosphere too, between paintings and stuccoes, where you can breathe a unique environment. Many, even foreigners, say that the Benedetto Marcello music Conservatory is the most beautiful school in the entire world and here I can only agree.” 

But the music Conservatory also houses a book library of more than 50 thousand volumes, as well as a museum where some curious relics are displayed: such as, for example, Wagner’s beret, music stand and baton. 

“Since its foundation the music Conservatory has been equipped with its own library, serving teachers and students but also outsiders- explain the head of the library, Professor Paolo Da Col- the collections of the music Conservatory of Venice include a pretty significant number of ancient bequests and donations representing an illustration, a sort of synthesis, of the 1700 Venetian musical life that we know was a significant part of the Italian scene. For example, we have the collection belonging to the Giustinian, or Giustiniani, family from the Zattere, the one of the Torrefranca and the one of the Correr Museum, which is a loan.” There are prints, opera arias, stage scores and some rare pearls, such as the signed manuscripts of Franz Liszt, Benedetto Marcello and the only original signed manuscript of Vivaldi preserved in Venice.

“The acqua Granda, occurred in November 2019, was a tragic event that saw the participation of many volunteers, students, teachers and outsiders, who wanted to help save these books from water, speeding up the process of delivering them to the places where they were later restored- says in the end Da Col- I must confess that this fraternal competition occurred also later on, thanks to the Marciana Library and thanks to the restorers of the National Library of Florence, who helped us saving manuscripts and prints that are now actually fully readable, and today we are facing the restoration of some other rare and more damaged pieces. Moreover, there’s also a deal with Ca’ Foscari University for a digital restoration of some pieces, therefore we’re hoping all this precious heritage will eventually be saved”.