Marcello's Oboe Concerto arranged by Bach and mistakenly attributed to Vivaldi
Concerto in D minor for oboe, strings, and continuo, also known as Marcello's Oboe Concerto, can rightfully be called a true masterpiece of the Baroque era, although its authorship had remained in question well into the 20th century. Various sources at different times attributed the piece to J. S. Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, and Benedetto Marcello but it is now known for certain that the real author of the oboe concerto was the Venetian composer Alessandro Marcello.
Known to his contemporaries as a mathematician, philosopher, and poet, Alessandro Marcello also wrote musical works, forty of which were published under the pseudonym Eterio Stinfalico. Making music solely for his own pleasure, Alessandro Marcello considered himself an amateur musician but had a talent for composing simple and charming melodic lines that could seem trivial to a sophisticated maestro.
The earliest surviving manuscript of the concerto is an arrangement written by Bach for solo keyboard in 1715. At the time, Bach worked on a number of keyboard arrangements based on concerts by Venetian composers, most of which were works by Vivaldi. In subsequent printing of the Bach arrangements, Marcello's Oboe Concerto was mistakenly attributed to Vivaldi and remained under the false authorship for over a century.
Listen to Alessandro Marcello's Adagio from Oboe Concerto in D minor performed by Heinz Holliger with I Musici:
Of all the works of Alessandro Marcello, only Oboe Concerto was signed with his real surname rather than the moniker Eterio Stinfalico, which only contributed to further confusion when in the early 20th century the work was wrongly attributed to Benedetto Marcello, Alessandro's brother.
Curiously, the 1717 Amsterdam publication of Marcello's Oboe Concerto showcases unadorned melodic lines, giving the performer an opportunity to embellish the melodies with fanciful trills, mordents, and grace notes.