Bonnie J. Blackburn
Recercare xxvii/1-2 2015
Music played an important role in Venetian scuole, but documentation is scarce in the fifteenth century. Newly discovered documents have made possible the identification of Nicolò Sconvelt, the first lutenist to be engaged by a schola (1482), and who appears in two paintings commissioned by the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista: Gentile Bellini’s ‘Procession in piazza San Marco’ and Lazzaro Bastiani’s ‘Donation of the relic of the True Cross’. Of German origin, Sconvelt achieved fame as a lute maker in Venice. Three of his lutes were acquired by Raimund Fugger the younger and references to them occur as late as 1617. Two wills detail his considerable wealth, his partner, and his bequests to Venetian churches. Evidence is also presented of early lute makers in Brescia, Ferrara, Milan, and Mantua, but principally in Venice, including Sigismondo Maler, brother of Laux Maler.