Remo Giazotto (September 4, 1910–August 26, 1998) was an Italian musicologist, music critic, and composer, mostly known through his systematic catalogue of the works of Tomaso Albinoni, who wrote biographies of Albinoni and other composers, including Vivaldi, the composer of the Four Seasons. Born at Rome, Italy, on September 4, 1910, Giazotto served as a music critic (from 1932) and editor (1945–1949) of the Rivista musicale italiana and was appointed co-editor of the Nuova rivista musicale italiana in 1967. He was a professor of the history of music at the University of Florence (1957–69) and in 1962 was nominated to the Accademia Nazionale di S. Cecilia.
In 1949, Giazotto became the director of the chamber music programs for RAI (Radio Audizioni Italiane) and in 1966 its director of the international programs organized through the European Broadcasting Union. He was also the president of RAI’s auditioning committee and editor of its series of biographies on composers. Giazotto is most famous for his publication of a work called Adagio in G minor for violin, strings, and organ continuo, which he claimed to have transcribed from a tiny manuscript fragment consisting of a few opening measures of the melody line and basso continuo portion of a slow second movement from an otherwise unknown Albinoni trio sonata that he had discovered.
According to Giazotto, he obtained the document shortly after the end of World War II from the Saxon State Library in Dresden which had preserved most of its collection, though its buildings were destroyed in the bombing raids of February and March 1945 by the British and American Air Forces. Giazotto concluded that the manuscript fragment was a portion of a church sonata (sonata da chiesa, one of two standard forms of the trio sonata) in G minor composed by Albinoni, possibly as part of his Op. 4 set, around 1708. In his account, Giazotto then constructed the balance of the complete single-movement work based on this fragmentary theme. He copyrighted it and published it in 1958 under a title which, translated into English, reads “Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ, on Two Thematic Ideas and on a Figured Bass of Tomaso Albinoni.”
Giazotto originally stated that he had arranged the work but not composed it. However, the fragment has never appeared in public, and Giazotto claimed that it contained only the bass line. Giazotto never produced the manuscript fragment, and no official record has been found of its presence in the collection of the Saxon State Library. He subsequently revised this story, claiming it as his own original composition, and the work was attributed to Giazotto. Musicologist Muska Mangano, Giazotto’s last assistant, claimed to have discovered a modern but independent manuscript transcription of the figured bass portion and six fragmentary bars of the first violin, “bearing in the top right-hand corner a stamp stating unequivocally the Dresden provenance of the original from which it was taken.”
The scholarly consensus is that the Adagio is Giazotto’s composition, whatever source may have inspired him. The piece is most commonly orchestrated for string ensemble and organ, or string ensemble alone, but with its growing fame has been transcribed for other instruments. Italian conductor Ino Savini (1904–1995) transcribed the Adagio for a large orchestra and conducted the piece himself in Ostrava in 1967 with the Janáček Philharmonic. The composition has also permeated popular culture, having been used as background music for such films as Gallipoli, in television programmes, and in advertisements. Remo Giazotto died on August 26, 1998, at Pisa, Italy.
My collection includes the following work by Remo Giazotto:
Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ, on Two Thematic Ideas and on a Figured Bass of Tomaso Albinoni
material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources