- Giuseppe Sigismondo, Apotheosis of Music in the Kingdom of Naples ed. by Claudio Bacciagaluppi, Giulia Giovani, and Raffaele Mellace
Contained in this edition is the first-ever full transcription of Giuseppe Sigismondo’s 1820 four-volume manuscript Apoteosi della musica del regno di Napoli in tre ultimi transundati secoli, currently conserved in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek. The curators trace back the steps that brought Sigismondo’s volume, one which almost certainly the author meant to publish, to the German capital. When his father died in 1826, Rocco Sigismondo submitted his manuscript to the esteemed ‘marchese’ of Villarosa, who deemed it a convoluted autograph, full of corrections and “chiamate”. Nevertheless, the same manuscript, which remained in the hands of the Marquis, undeniably strongly influenced his later Memorie dei compositori di musica del Regno di Napoli (1840). The Berlin version of the manuscript was instead owned by collector Aloys Fuchs. The previous possessor, the young Austrian military figure Franz Sales Kandler, managed to become a close friend of Sigismondo despite the age difference between them, and moved to Naples precisely to study that same school of music as well as to expand his autograph collection. And it was in that same period that Sigismondo was working on his Apoteosi della musica del regno di Napoli in tre ultimi transundati secoli, an effort which continued even after Kandler’s departure from Naples, as evidenced by a lengthy epistolary. In her comprehensive introductory piece, Rosa Cafiero covers this fruitful relationship (pp. xxi–lxxii); she also details the numerous biographies of illustrious characters that were published both preceding and following the writing of Apoteosi, the intellectual circles Sigismondo partook in, his friendship with Saverio Mattei, promoter of the Biblioteca musica belonging to the Santa Maria della Pietà dei Turchini Conservatory where Sigismondo served as its first librarian, and concludes with letters from Sigismondo to Kandler, his notes on Zingarelli from the Vienna Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, and a brief biography of Zingarelli written by Kandler and published in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung.
The first chapter begins with the biography of the author: Sigismondo studied choir and composition with Nicolò Porpora and Francesco Durante and also undertook the study of jurisprudence; additionally, in his youth, he dedicated himself to acting and even published several comedies. As a vocal teacher for several families of Naples’ elite, Sigismondo tells of many notable episodes he witnessed, including important accounts of singers and composers he personally knew: of the vocalist Ferdinando Mazzanti, of his female pupils, of his first encounter with Porpora, and especially of his friendship with Niccolò Jommelli.
In the second chapter, Sigismondo describes the long and convoluted history that brought about the creation of the Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini’s music library and that of the four ancient Neapolitan conservatories. Sigismondo already intended for his rich autograph collection to become a “public musical library for the use of those wishing to consult the contained works of art” and to this end, they had formally catalogued his possessions. Sigismondo can claim much of the credit for the foundation of the library, one boasting a collection of works vast to the point of impressing Delegate Saverio Mattei of the Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini, and later in 1794 earning the approval of the King, who bestowed upon Sigismondo the title of “archivario”, one which he would maintain until his death (1826). Sigismondo also provides us with several first-hand accounts pertaining to the birth of the library, such as a document from 22 March 1794 signed by Saverio Mattei, as well as all the governors of the Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini in the account of the completion of the [End Page 179] same institute; he then describes all the duties assigned to him as well as later donations which augmented the collection of works, like that of Queen Maria Carolina which necessitated the creation of a new index, created in 1801. The...