ponte de la pietà
passacaglia per violino e doppia orchestra (2010)
20 minutes – no.32
This work - a passacaglia for solo violin and twin orchestra - is part of the cycle entitled la Serenissima, a series of compositions dedicated to the city of Venice and its lesser-known, often dark sides.
The work features the 'Ponte de la Pietà', situated halfway along the Riva degli Schiavoni. Beside this arched footbridge is the 'Ospedale della Pietà': a former orphanage for illegitimate girls, foundlings and newborn daughters of disadvantaged families. Founded in the year 1346, its buildings only partially survive today. Crossing the bridge, babies could be left at the convent via a hatch. One still finds a plaque on the church threatening with damnation parents who tried to pass off their children as orphans.
By the late seventeenth century, the Ospedale operated a renowned music school in addition to its orphanage. In the autumn of 1740, the Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi - having served as 'maestro di violino' at the Ospedale for almost forty years - crossed the Ponte de la Pietà for the last time, never to return to his hometown. He set off for Vienna, hoping to work for Charles VI. However, the Habsburg sovereign died unexpectedly, and no one else in Vienna was interested in employing the "Red Priest". By the end of July the following year, Vivaldi himself died. He was accorded the cheapest possible funeral and was buried in a pauper's grave.