From the journal of Antonio Vivaldi
December 12, 1717
As noted in a previous journal entry, I had made a trip to Cöthen where the great composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, is under the service of Prince Leopold. There I heard a recent keyboard transcription of Bach’s. The transcription was of a piece called Concerto in D minor for Oboe, Strings and Basso Continuo. Bach listed the composer as the well-known Venetian composer Benedetto Marcello. As I listened to the piece, I was captured by the simple yet eloquent melodies that were presented but I also was curious as I had not known of Benedetto to write for oboe. I also know that Marcello stated, “Oboes, flutes, trumpets, bassoons, etc., will always be out of tune, too sharp, etc.” I acquired the published edition of the oboe concerto from a company in Amsterdam and it listed the composer as Eterio Stinfalico. Since this only added to the mystery of who the true composer of the piece is, I decided to return to my home in Venice so that I might investigate for myself and find out the truth. I have arrived back at Venice and I feel it should be noted the rise in compositions and performance of the woodwind instruments, especially the oboe. For many years string players have dominated the performing scene here in the Italian republics. Before the turn of the century, there was a sudden increase of instruments being produced. The recorder, transverse flute, oboe, bassoon were becoming a regular part of the musical life here and masterpieces were being written for these instruments. Italian woodwind players are considered the finest in Europe and many are becoming quite famous. The oboe in particular has become a primary instrument here in Venice. The Ospedale della Pietá where I teach, has had many of the finest oboe teachers. These teachers are the virtuosi of our day and include Ignazio Rion, Onofrio, Penati, Ludwig Erdmann and Ignazio Siber. I myself have taken oboe lessons from these...