LONDON (Reuters Life!) – A lost flute concerto by 18th century composer and virtuoso violinist Antonio Vivaldi has been discovered by an academic among a set of dusty papers housed in Scotland's National Archives in Edinburgh.
The extraordinary find, a 300-year-old copy of the Italian Baroque composer's original manuscript, comprises the parts for "Il Gran Mogol," one of a quartet of national concertos.
The others, entitled "La Francia," "La Spagna" and "L'Inghilterro" remain lost.
The musical score, which scholars believe may never have been performed, was found and authenticated by Southampton University research fellow Andrew Woolley.
"This piece was previously known only from a mention in the sale catalog of an 18th-century Dutch bookseller. Discovering that it is actually in existence is unexpected and hugely exciting," Woolley said.
Peter Franklin, spokesman for the University of Southampton, said: "this is an 18th century published copy of the original, so it's not in Vivaldi's own hand, but we don't know of any other copy in existence."
The work is almost complete, missing just a part of the second violin. Woolley was able to reconstruct the missing part by referring to another Vivaldi flute concerto, kept in Turin in Italy, which he said appeared to be a rework of the original.
The concerto will be played for the first time in Perth Concert Hall, Scotland, in January.
This unfinished painting of Jesus and Mary could be a lost Michelangelo, potentially the art find of the century.
But to the upstate family on whose living-room wall it hung for years, it was just "The Mike."
When the kids knocked the painting off its perch with an errant tennis ball sometime in the mid-1970s, the Kober clan wrapped it up and tucked it away behind the sofa.
There it remained for 27 years, until Air Force Lt. Col. Martin Kober retired in 2003 and had some time on his hands. His father gave him a task -- research the family lore that the painting was really a Michelangelo.
"Now, with your newfound free time, do something with this!" Kober recalled his father telling him.
Kober, now 53, dug into the history of the painting, contacting auction houses, Renaissance art scholars, European archives, and even meeting museum directors in Italy. He found Antonio Forcellino, an Italian art restorer and historian and told him of the tennis ball, and something more horrifying.
"It wasn't the story that had scared me, but that it had been exposed to heating commonly found inside a middle-class home," Forcellino writes in his new book, "La Pieta Perduta," or "The Lost Pieta," published in Italy and due out in the United States next year.
And he did not believe in the existence of another version of Michelangelo paintings that are hanging in Italian museums.
"I had assumed it was going to be a copy," Forcellino said.
Still, Forcellino skeptically visited Kober's home outside Buffalo to view the painting, and the trip left him a bit breathless.
"In reality, this painting was even more beautiful than the versions hanging in Rome and Florence. The truth was this painting was much better than the ones they had. I had visions of telling them that there was this crazy guy in America telling everyone he had a Michelangelo at home," Forcellino said.
A scientific analysis of the painting proved that the Michelangelo claim was not so crazy.
Forcellino told The Post that infrared and X-ray examinations of the painting -- on a 25-by- 19-inch wood panel -- show many alterations made by the artist as he changed his mind, and an unfinished portion near the Madonna's right knee.
"The evidence of unfinished portions demonstrate that this painting never, never, never could be a copy of another painting," Forcellino said. "No patron pays in the Renaissance for an unfinished copy."...Additionally, the provenance, or ownership history, points to the work being done by Michelangelo around 1545 for his friend Vittoria Colonna. That was about 45 years after Michelangelo did his famed "Pieta," or pity, sculpture of Mary holding Jesus, housed in St. Peter's Basilica....
The rare Michelangelo drawings that have come up for sale in recent years have sold for as much as $20 million. And a possible Michelangelo at the Metropolitan Museum of Art could be worth as much as $300 million.
"Millions and millions," Wallace said of the lost Pieta's value.