The manuscript E.M. 143a is part of the so called “Este-Obizzi Music Collection”, held in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna. The collection is named after Marquis Tommaso degli Obizzi who founded it, together with an important collection of art and musical instruments in the late XVIII century, in his palace of Catajo, near Padua. In his last will he left the collection to the Duke Ercole III d'Este who died two years before Tommaso degli Obizzi. The collection was then inherited by Ercole's daughter, Maria Beatrice d’Este, married since 1771 to a son of Empress Maria Theresia of Austria, Archduke Ferdinand. The musical material has been sorted by different owners and it contains 19 prints and more than 200 manuscripts. The earliest manuscript (E.M. 83) contains trio sonatas from the 1620s to the 1670s by Dario Castello (from his Libro secondo, Venice 1629), Simplicio Todeschi, Andrea Falconieri (1650?), Johann Rosenmüller, Giovanni Legrenzi and Carlo Fedeli. The latest work in the collection (E.M. 74) is the manuscript copy of the trio sonatas op. 1, dated Padova, 1727, by the unknown Filippo Banner.
In order to set a possible dating for the manuscript E.M. 143a, let us examine the watermarks and the countermarks on the paper used. The paper shows three crescents and the countermark “CPA”. The three-crescents paper-type and the general style of the 10-stave rastrography confirm that the manuscript is of North-Italian provenance and most probably copied in the Veneto region. This observation makes sense with the fact that it belongs to the Obizzi collection.
The enlightening consultation with Paul Everett, who made a comparison with other Venetian manuscripts that present the same type of paper – that he catalogued as B15 – showed that other manuscripts exhibit the same features; these include:
- Vivaldi’s autograph of Juditha triumphans, 1716, extant in I-Tn, Foà 28, fols 209-302.
- Three autograph scores by J. D. Heinichen, all three of Venetian origin:
1. "Opera di Mario" [= Cajo Mario, or Calpurnia], without date, extant in D-Dl, Mus. 2389-F-1
2. Serenata, Zeffiro e Clori, dated "Maggio" but missing the years (perhaps 1714?), extant in D-Dl, Mus. 2389-L-6.
3. Oratorio, La pace di Kamberga, without date (1716?), extant in D-Dl, Mus. 2389-D-4a.
As Everett points out, "On this basis we might infer that the Torelli MS in A-Wn is likely to date from the mid-1710s – but we must be cautious, for such a conclusion is unsafe without additional evidence"28.
Another observation represents a clue for our investigation: in the Vienna copy of the D minor violin concerto, it is possible to distinguish two different hand writings. The principal one, very clear and accurate, is presumably that of a professional copyist29. The second hand is found only on the Violone part, which strikingly presents a simplified version of the bass line, compared to the Continuo part – with no analogies or correspondences with the Lund set of parts.
Curiously, this evidence seems to be recurrent for many of the manuscripts presented in the Este Music Collection in Vienna, as has been pointed out by Herbert Seifert:
[there are parts for cello either already provided in the prints or manuscripts or written out from the continuo or organ parts by a scribe whose writing can be identified throughout the collection mainly in cello or, even more, violone parts, often on different paper, even paper differently sized from the rest of the set. (...) These mentioned parts for the largest stringed instrument, the violone, exhibit typical differences from the parts they were copied from: they are simplified by omitting the smaller note values]30
In order to verify the author of these simplified violone parts, an evidence is given by the fact that the handwriting is identical to that in the autograph compositions of Nicolò Sanguinazzo or Sanguinazzi, present in the collection.
Sanguinazzo seems to have owned the collection as he, himself, reported on the back cover of the violone part of Albinoni's trio sonatas (E.M. 73):
“Mocenigho fasci° de beni de
quali acquisti fatti dall illmo Mocenigo sono andati
poi nelle mani de noi Sanguinazzi ___________”
This means that these music items (“fasc[icol]i”) that belonged to the family Zorzini, were then bought from a member of the famous Venetian aristocratic family Mocenigo and finally reached the hands of the Sanguinazzi. According to Herbert Seifert “the number 242 could well designate the call number of one of the items of the collection”31.