Essay A. Marcello Oboe Concerto in D Minor

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Charles Pridgen
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
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There are three Marcello brothers, Alessandro, Benedetto and Girolamo, who were born of nobility here in Venice. Benedetto is well-known for his music. Alessandro composes also but his interests actually lie more with philosophy, mathematics, history, chemistry, painting and poetry. Alessandro has a small body of work in music. This is probably due to him being much more of a figure head in the Venetian government since his father passed away in 1707. Benedetto has a much larger body of work composing of many instrumental and sacred vocal pieces. I recalled that considering the academic pursuits of the Marcellos, that it was possible that they were members of the Arcadian colony. The Arcadians were a new movement of intellectuals that emphasized the respect of artistic achievement and a return to the Greek ideals that music and poetry worked together. They also wished to avoid lavish displays and encouraged simplicity. The Arcadians would also use pseudonyms and I discovered that the pseudonym of “Eterio Stinfalico” belonged to Alessandro Marcello.
Now that I learned who the true author was, I went to seek out Alessandro. It is typical of nobles such as the Marcello to conduct concerts in their home. I went to the Palazzo Marcello and discovered a concert was being performed that had the concerto on its program. The oboist was unknown to me. The audience contained mostly nobles and government
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