Benedetto Marcello

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Sitting in the grave
the legend about Benedetto Marcello
benedetto Marcello

Benedetto Marcello was one of the greatest Venetian composers of the 18th century. Being a member of a noble family, a writer and a lawyer, he held various public positions. The Conservatory of Venice is dedicated to him.

You never know. If death was only transitory and a person, waking up in the grave, could not communicate that he wants to see the light again, what should he do?” This was the thought that crossed the mind of the Venetian composer in August 1728. 

In the church of the Holy Apostles in Venice, Benedetto found himself unconscious inside a tomb in the center of the church. During mass a slab of marble evidently gave way and the musician slipped a few meters below the surface, fortunately without serious injury.

However, the chronicles reported that after that episode the composer, known for his playful and cheerful nature, became sadder and more thoughtful. A change of mood that led him to dig into his family history, looking for some trace that would confirm his growing fears of apparent death. Benedetto had not been wrong: two centuries earlier, one of his ancestors, Girolamo Marcello, had in fact been believed dead and buried in the church on the island of Certosa. One night the monks, who fortunately lived next to the crypt, heard noises and desperate cries coming from the tomb and found him alive.

That revelation changed the life of the composer, who from that moment on was literally obsessed with the risk of falling prey to the state of apparent death without having a chance to get out of it.

In the last testamentary disposition, he insisted that he wanted to be buried seated, with his legs under a fully furnished table. There had to be a lamp and a tinderbox, so that he could make light. He also had to have in his hand a string connected to a bell, with which he could make noise to draw attention to his awakening. And so it happened. 

Location: Santi Apostoli Church, Venice

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