Fondo Leoncavallo

The Fondo

For decades after Leoncavallo’s death in 1919, the estate remained largely unaltered, in the possession of Leoncavallo’s widow Berta (1862–1926) and of Jeanne ‘Fernanda’ Puel, whom Leoncavallo had appointed as a further heiress. Even after she had died in 1957, the composer’s archive continued to be kept in private hands. In 1988 the Canton of Ticino acquired a large part of the written sources. In recognition of the long-standing relationship between Leoncavallo and the territory, thus the foundations were laid for a documentation and research institution. The collection, which has since been greatly expanded through purchases and donations, was opened to the public in 1990 as the Fondo Leoncavallo. It is housed in the baroque Palazzo Morettini, under the roof of the Cantonal Library in the centre of Locarno. In the spirit of caring for and making accessible Leoncavallo’s artistic heritage, the Fondo is open to researchers and interested parties from all over the world.

The materials include autographs, first editions and sketches of operas and libretti by the maestro, a correspondence of over 3000 documents and a large part of his music library. In addition, there is an extensive collection of contemporary posters and theatre programmes for performances of his operas, as well as piano rolls and early recordings. Several thousand contemporary press reports (some collected and annotated by Leoncavallo himself) as well as over 500 photographs from the family albums open up a comprehensive panopticon of his professional and private life. Beyond these materials, some of the composer’s personal belongings are also preserved, including orders, cups of honour and other gifts from crowned heads, which are displayed in a permanent exhibition, as well as Leoncavallo’s personal library with works of contemporary poetry and belles-lettres.

Users of the Fondo Leoncavallo furthermore have access to a solid reference collection of secondary literature.