The two main streams which carried Italian musical influences throughout Europe during the late 18th century flowed from opera and from instrumental music. The first had traditionally been associated with southern Italy, with the Neapolitan school of Alessandro Scarlatti and his successors; the second derived chiefly from the north, its initial impetus coming from Bologna in the latter half of the 17th century, spreading to Venice and to Padua. Violinists from all over Europe came to Padua to learn their trade, attracted by the name of the musician whom Sir John Hawkins described as "the last great improver of the practice of the violin," Giuseppe Tartini. Under his influence a new school of violin performance was developed, known as "The School of the Nations" in recognition of the varied national backgrounds of its adherents. The phrase implied not so much an actual institution as a symbol of authority in violin technique and composition. Although one of the leading exponents of the violin as a solo instrument, Tartini did not gain his reputation by traveling as a virtuoso through the various European music centers. Outwardly, at least, his career was that of a quiet, provincial church musician. Except for a period of two years in Prague, he devoted himself for more than forty years to his duties at the Basilica of St. Anthony, playing, teaching, composing and writing the treatises that carried his fame throughout the musical world of his time. Some of his music was printed, but only a small proportion of the total output; most of it survives in manuscript.
Northern Italy, by the second half of the 18th century, was no longer a center of music printing and publishing. The tradition of Petrucci, Antico and Giunta had long since been broken. There were a few publishers such as Antonio Zatta who issued instrumental music from time to time along with general literature, but the leading music publishing houses were located in London, Paris or Amsterdam. This did not mean that the Italian composers were any less productive than they had been in the past. On the contrary, their productivity so far outran the capacities of the press that not even the combined resources of a Welcker, a Le Clerc and a Witvogel could handle it. Music was circulated to a large extent in manuscript copies. The copyist, in fact, was an indispensable figure in the musical economy of the time; every musical establishment of any importance maintained its own "scriptorium." In this the Cappella Antoniana was no exception. But the archive of manuscripts prepared for the use of Tartini and his colleagues has been widely dispersed in the past 200 years. Some remained in Padua, but it is still unclear just how the Tartini manuscripts were deposited in the institution to which the composer was attached. Other segments of the original repertoire, including many Tartini autographs, have found their way into the libraries in Paris, Vienna and Marburg. Still other units have traveled even greater distances from their original location. The purpose of the present catalog is to direct the attention of scholars to a group of manuscripts recently acquired by the Music Library of the University of California at Berkeley, a collection which appears to be the largest single body of works of the Tartini school preserved intact from the 18th century to the present day.
The Berkeley collection comprises some 990 manuscripts containing works by 82 different composers. These works, counted individually, come to a total of 1,062 compositions. There are 75 additional manuscripts containing anonymous works, embellished variants from slow movements of concertos and sonatas . . .