History of the Levi Foundation
The Ugo and Olga Levi Foundation for music studies was founded in 1962, following a donation by Ugo Levi in accordance with the wishes of his wife, Olga Brunner, in memory of her and their mutual passion for musical studies. The statute stipulated that it was to be housed in Palazzo Giustinian Lolin overlooking the Grand Canal, one of Baldassare Longhena’s earlier works.
The Levi family belonged to the high-ranking Venetian bourgeoisie in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century; they were active in what we would now call merchant banking. The accounts from the family archive show they had activities and interests in the most important finance centres of that period, such as Paris and London, but also in the Middle East, while from the twentieth century onwards they worked mainly in Venice.
The last son was Ugo Levi, born on 10th October 1878 to Angelo Levi and his cousin Giovanna, Giacomo Levi’s daughter. On 8th December 1912 in Trieste Ugo Levi married Olga Brunner who came from a wealthy Jewish family from that city. Ugo Levi and Olga Brunner had no children, and not only did they continue to cultivate their passion for music (including a collection of manuscripts and books on music), but also made their palazzo on the Grand Canal, Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, a drawing room and music and literary coterie, which became renowned especially following the brief relationship that developed between Olga and Gabriele D'Annunzio.
The idea to use their considerable family patrimony to create a Foundation gradually took hold. This was no new idea at that time as Vittorio Cini, who was then a dominant figure in the economic and cultural life of Venice had established the Giorgio Cini Foundation in that period. Drawn up respectively on 16th September 1957 and 17th November 1958, the couple thus stipulated in their wills that their inheritance be given to a Foundation, the creation of which was sanctioned with an act dated 14th February 1962.