Researcher raises profile of musical scores by composer who inspired Vivaldi

Researcher raises profile of musical scores by composer who inspired Vivaldi


A talented music scholar at the University of Aberdeen is believed to be the first in the world to research a unique collection of musical scores by a little-known composer whose works inspired the great Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi.

Dr Jasmin Cameron, a lecturer in Music at the University, is currently undertaking a world-first research project to investigate in detail the life and music of a composer called Giovanni Maria Ruggieri (active between c.1690 – 1715).

During the first stages of her research while working with Professor Michael Talbot, a distinguished Vivaldi scholar, Dr Cameron had access to a rare collection of Ruggieri’s composition manuscripts, which are included among the 27 volumes of music once belonging to Vivaldi (1678 - 1741). Today, these manuscripts are housed in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Turin, Italy.

One of Vivaldi’s greatest – and most popular – works is the Gloria RV 589 – one of two settings by Vivaldi. Two settings of the Gloria by Ruggieri are listed in the Vivaldi catalogue of works held in Turin.

Dr Cameron explained: “When Vivaldi’s own settings of the Gloria are compared to those of Ruggieri, it is clear that Vivaldi was inspired by Ruggieri’s inimitable talent. The study of Ruggieri’s scores proved invaluable to Vivaldi and not only in terms of style - on more than one occasion Vivaldi ‘borrowed’ from Ruggieri for his own work.

“The well-known concluding fugue ‘Cum Sancto Spiritu’ from Vivaldi’s famous Gloria setting (RV 589) is in fact a modified version of Ruggieri’s same movement from his Gloria in D.”

While Dr Cameron concedes that this is a fact well known by musicologists, she is committed to raising Ruggieri’s musical profile out of Vivaldi’s shadow: “There’s no doubt Ruggieri’s talent has remained firmly overshadowed by that of Vivaldi,” she said.

“Ruggieri’s composition manuscripts are an amazing find and, while Vivaldi scholars are aware of their existence, to my knowledge, no-one else has ever looked at the manuscripts in this much detail.

“The scores are remarkable – Ruggieri wrote some very fine music and he clearly motivated Vivaldi.

“The manuscripts are also fascinating as they allow further insight into the sacred vocal music of the time. I’m looking forward to the challenge of working to promote compositions to ensure they are made available for modern day musical performances.”

Dr Cameron has already been successful in her attempt to make Ruggieri’s music accessible. She has edited a number of Ruggieri’s musical scores and her editions of the Ruggieri Glorias have been accepted for publication by A-R Editions – the leading U.S publisher of modern editions of early music which is recognised internationally for its expertise in music publishing.

Her critically acclaimed edition of the Gloria in D has also been recorded by King’s Consort, London, and is available on Hyperion – a highly respected independent British classical label. Her edition of Gloria in G also had its first performance recently by the Peterhead Choral Society, conducted by Alistair Macdonald, a PhD student and part-time member of staff in Music at the University.

Dr Cameron continued: “I am delighted that, finally, Ruggieri’s music is being made accessible to the public through live performance, recordings and printed editions.”

Also as part of her research, Dr Cameron is trying to acquire all the existing Ruggieri manuscripts for editing, which, she says, is as fascinating as it is challenging: “The process of obtaining the manuscripts themselves is not always straight forward, and sometimes the musical scores that do arrive can prove to be ‘Red Herrings’ in that they are stylistically too dissimilar to be by this particular Ruggieri.

“The editing of Ruggieri’s two Gloria settings has been a fantastic project to be involved with. The untidiness and informality of the original musical score has presented a challenge: numerous deletions, ink blots and even pasting of manuscript over original script are just some of the problems I have had to address in my role as editor.

“It’s often like detective work, trying to find clues that might indicate what Ruggieri’s true intentions were.”

Dr Roger Williams, Director of University Music at Aberdeen, said: “This is an extremely important find – to have discovered a source of music that has not been seen for such a long time is a terrific achievement, and one which will help broaden our understanding of the amazing Ruggieri and his contemporaries.”

Dr Cameron’s research is part of her on-going study to uncover more about the life and music of Ruggieri. She added: “No-one really knows much about Ruggieri, although I suspect he was an amateur composer who had another career. No-one even knows where he was from and if he even knew Vivaldi.

“The only thing we know for sure is that he was an operatic composer to whom Vivaldi was indebted. It certainly appears that Vivaldi learnt a great deal from Ruggieri’s sacred vocal music.”

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