The Cotisso Award to the Angels of the ‘acqua alta’ at the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello

Thanks to a quick response, the notes of Vivaldi and Beethoven and other priceless volumes were saved from the high water of 12 November 2019. President Giovanni Giol: ‘Thanks to their efforts, nothing was lost’.

The notes marked out in ink seemed to dissolve on the wet paper. The thin twine bindings no longer held, the pages of music split apart or floated around, stuck together. When the ‘acqua alta’ crept into the archives of the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory on 12 November 2019, eighteenth-century works by Vivaldi, nineteenth-century first editions of Beethoven, and compositions by Benedetto Marcello and Domenico Cimarosa risked being lost for ever, along with other precious volumes.

An irreparable disaster seemed imminent, but then the ‘angeli dell’acqua alta’ – the angels of the high water – arrived: students from the Conservatory, students from Venetian universities and from the mainland, assisted by teachers, employees and private citizens from all over. All together to save one of Venice’s priceless collections. Thanks to this exceptional commitment aimed at safeguarding our cultural heritage, VIF has decided to award the 2020 Cotisso Prize to the students of the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello.

The Venice Foundation has not limited itself to a symbolic prize, but wanted to make a ‘material’ contribution that would really help the students both to attend the Conservatory and to continue their work of recovering the archive and library.