The discovery of a previously unknown score of a flute concerto by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) in the National Archives of Scotland has been announced. Andrew Woolley, Research Fellow at the University of Southampton, has identified the score of 'Il Gran Mogol' as a lost part of series of four 'national' concertos by Vivaldi. The manuscript score (GD40/15/54/2) is in the hand of a copyist, and is among the family papers of the Marquesses of Lothian, an important collection that was purchased by the National Archives of Scotland in 1991.
Although the title and composer were written on the score, Mr Woolley is the first scholar to identify the significance of the work.
"This piece was previously known only from a mention in the sale catalogue of an 18th-century Dutch bookseller. Discovering that it is actually in existence is unexpected and hugely exciting," says Andrew Woolley. The others, titled 'La Francia',' La Spagna' and 'L'Inghilterro', remain lost.
George MacKenzie, Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said:
"We are delighted that the significance of this musical score has been identified, and we congratulate Andrew Woolley on his exciting find."
The concerto was scored for flute, two violins, viola and bass, but the part for the second violin part is missing. Andrew Woolley has reconstructed the missing part by referring to another flute concerto in which Vivaldi seems to have reworked 'Il Gran Mogol'. His edition is being published by Edition HH.
'Il Gran Mogol' has not been performed in modern times. At the announcement event, John Hall, flautist with the Scottish Opera orchestra, played an extract from the Larghetto (slow movement) of the concerto. The whole work will receive its modern day world premiere at Perth Concert Hall on 26 January 2011. It will be performed by the early music group La Serenissima, which has strong links with the University of Southampton.
Scotland's Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop said: "This remarkable discovery of an unpublished concerto by one of the world's best-known composers shows the outstanding quality of the collections in the National Archives of Scotland. I welcome the news that its premiere will be in Scotland."
It is unclear how exactly the concerto was brought to Scotland, but it is believed the manuscript was the property of the musical nobleman Lord Robert Kerr, son of the 3rd Marquess of Lothian. He is known to have played the flute in the period he was attending classes at the University of Edinburgh, 1729-1732, and he may have acquired the score while on a Grand Tour of Europe in the 1730s.
Lord Robert Kerr joined the British army in 1739 and was a captain of grenadiers when he was killed fighting on the government side against the Jacobite army at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746. He is said to have been ‘in the bloom of youth and extremely handsome’. He seems to have left a remarkable legacy.
First page of the score to Vivaldi's 'Il Gran Mogol' (National Archives of Scotland, GD40/15/54/2).