History of the library
The Levi Foundation has created a Library specialized in music in Palazzo Giustinian Lolin; it consists of nineteenth-century handwritten and printed documents, comprising a vast collection of scores and music texts, and is one of its kind (it also includes countless first editions of operatic works in arrangements for canto and piano by the publisher Ricordi).
In addition to this material, which is difficult to find elsewhere, are purchases made on antique markets over the years, comprising around 600 manuscripts and prints that go from the early sixteenth century to the end of the eighteenth century, as well as numerous portraits and ancient drawings. In accordance with the wishes of the founder, Dr. Ugo Levi, this invaluable collection was partially catalogued by Don Siro Cisilino in 1965; however, it was not until Prof. Franco Rossi compiled a catalogue adopting the modern criteria of library science that the true extent of this patrimony i n the Library became clear, making it possible to reorder it so it could be used by users and researchers. Over the years, this vast patrimony has been enriched by the same number of titles reproduced on microfilm and microfiches:
- the music collection of the Querini Stampalia Foundation
- the music collection of I.R.E.
- the Torrefranca collection of the Venice Conservatory
- the entire corpus of music for lute
- the music published by Petrucci
- collections of seventeenth-century works
- eighteenth-century opera collections (the entire Legrenziano material, the complete Barberiniano collection of the
Vatican Apostolic Library)
- Galuppi’s material from Saint Mark’s (currently housed in the Music Conservatory in Genoa)
The collection was then expanded even further with the addition of a section dedicated to the medieval and renaissance age, with the creation of facsimile, digital reproductions, critical editions, series, repertoires, etc., all of which are unavailable in other libraries in the Veneto region, as well as guaranteeing suitable support to collateral study and research initiatives that the Foundation intends to carry out.
Adopting similar criteria, a bibliographic section will be created dedicated to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to support the archive of Italian music historiography and the study of the newly-acquired collections of Angelo De Santi, Giovanni Tebaldini and Sante Zanon. Furthermore, a virtual newspaper library has also been activated, offering the possibility to access many Italian and international journals on-line, including the JSTOR data banks.
It is also possible to listen to music and read newspapers and music periodicals in the reading room in the Library. Computer and multimedia support is available for users carrying out research.
The historic Collection of the Chapel of Saint Mark, belonging to the Procurator of Saint Mark’s, is conserved in the rooms of the Library and has been catalogued and made available for public use by Franco Rossi and Francesco Passadore. The historic archive of Teatro La Fenice (tel. +39.041.5212778, +39.041.5235171) was also housed here from 1990 to 2005; scholars believe this was the leading opera archive in the world (together with that of Teatro Regio in Parma), regarding both the quantity and quality of the material it contains. On 19th May 2008 the library was named after Gianni Milner, the historic president of the Levi Foundation.