A part of the editions of Ottaviano Pietrucci, the first music printer, taken in 1835 is still kept at the Nationalbibliotek of Vienna which does not return them to Venice.
Give us back Petrucci’s musical books! They got them Austrians In the 1835, they led them to Vienna and they are still there, in the Oesterreichische Nationalbiliothek (Austrian National Library). These are very precious works, because Ottaviano Petrucci was the first, in 1501, to print music with movable type. He was originally from Fossombrone, in the Marche region, he had moved to Venice, the undisputed capital of printing and publishing at the end of the fifteenth century and as soon as the new century has begun, Harmonice Musices Odhecaton is published (in Venice there is no copy left) and gives it a new era: that of the musical press.
It was not only the French who plundered the Venetian artistic heritage and the territories of the now former Serenissima, but also the Austrians certainly did not hold back. And it was not only paintings and statues that were taken away, but also large parts of the book heritage, often wrongly considered to be of series B. “There is considerable attention”, explains Stefano Campagnolo, director of the Marciana libraries in Venice and Nazionale central Rome, «by the general public, for illegitimately stolen works of art, but the same would be needed for books and manuscripts, often real monuments no less significant. Furthermore, unlike works of art, unfortunately, books, documents and manuscripts are subject to easy mobility. I do not doubt the correctness of the institutions involved: some subtractions are to be considered accidents determined by historical events ».
The last sentence of Campagnolo’s statement refers to why these Petrucci prints remained in Vienna, rather than returning to Venice in 1919, as happened for others. So, as the librarian Elisabetta Sciarra observed: «The music collection of the Marciana National Library it is one of the most important in the world, both for the wealth of manuscript collections and for the printed matter, especially for the printed music of the sixteenth century; Suffice it to think that the Marciana has the only surviving testimonies of many sixteenth-century musical editions ». Let’s go in order. How precious are the printed editions of Ottaviano Petrucci is very clear to the French of General Louis Baraguay d’Hilliers who in Venice between 15 and 16 May 1797. Among the thousands of books looted there are also numerous musical editions, mostly they came from the libraries of the suppressed monasteries.
In this way a paradox is created: when they return, in 1816, with the restitutions following the Congress of Vienna, since the institutions from which they were taken no longer exist, they end up at the Marciana creating to create that primacy in the collections of musical prints of which it was said above. However, five editions by Ottaviano Petrucci also appear among the books returned in 1816. The books that had attracted the attention of the French, however, also entice the Austrians: nineteen years pass and in 1835 they are again taken away. They end up at the Oesterreichische Hofbibliothek (imperial library) in Vienna, which became Nationalbibliothek since 1920. The books and manuscripts are partly returned in 1868 following the peace treaty between Italy and Austria, others return in 1919 following the Italian military mission of Guido Coggiola, then director of the Marciana. On this second occasion, the 57 manuscript volumes of the Diaries of Marin Sanudo, the most important source of Venetian history for the years from 1496 to 1533, also return to Venice from Vienna. It is thought that everything had returned to the Marciana, but not. As recently ascertained by Elisabetta Sciarra, some parts of Petrucci’s printed works were found in Vienna. For the accuracy twenty-one Petruccian signatures of the OeNB probably collected from Venice. This is proven by the comparison of the ancient catalogs, some papers with notes clearly written by the same hand that are part of the Marciana and part of the Austrian national team, as well as the matching signs of the undone bindings. It is plausible that the entire collection of masses printed by Ottaviano Petrucci, now divided between Venice and Vienna, was originally linked together, probably in three volumes, separated for the alto, tenor and singing voices. The bass parts are almost missing both in the examples present in Vienna and in those of Venice. So it happened that when Coggiola, the director of the Marciana, went to Vienna in 1919, after the Italian victory in the First World War, he did not realize that the Petruccian editions had been at least partially disconnected, he recovered the volumes, but not the individual parts which thus remained in Austria. Is there any possibility that these parts of Petrucci’s printed books will return to Venice? Certainly not, unless there is a high level of interest.
ART AND POLITICS
Art is political, it always has been, and the theme of restitutions has always been a part of relations between states, starting with the post-Napoleonic restitutions, which occurred mainly following the defeat of Waterloo, or in Austria, following the defeats of the third rule. war of independence and the first world war. But just as not everything has returned from France, so not everything has returned from Austria. For example, the frontal embroidered by Ottavia and Pierina Robusti, daughters of Jacopo Tintoretto, is still in a private collection in Vienna. In 1815 the Emperor Francis I of Habsburg visited Venice. The following year they sent him 14 paintings from the dismembered Royal Palace of Eugene of Beauharnais, in the new Procuratie as a tribute. His successor, Ferdinando I, in 1838 had 85 works sent for the Academy of Fine Arts and 76 for the Belvedere gallery, all paintings “of the first category”, including Carpaccio, Vivarini, Veronese. Many of the paintings left in 1838 return in 1919, including the Hieronymus Bosch who was in the antechamber of the Council of Ten, a Tintoretto and a Paris Bordon that the Austrians had taken and then locked them up in a warehouse, not considering them worthy of being exposed. Instead, the two Canalettos remained in Vienna and can still be admired today in the picture gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts.