It is always interesting when new works by old masters are discovered.  This is true whether it is in the world of the visual arts, a previously undiscovered manuscript or an orchestral work.  Modo Antiquo premiered Vivaldi’s piece, dated to between 1700-1703, created when he was a young composer.  You can read the entire story here.  It must have been an amazing experience for this ensemble to premiere a piece that hasn’t been heard in about 300 years…if it was ever performed during Vivaldi’s lifetime.

The discovery brings up an interesting issue about copyright.  At some point Modo Antiquo probably recorded their performance.  Each recorded performance generally has a minimum of two copyrights–a copyright in the composition and a copyright in the performance of the composition.  So while the new discovery is clearly in the public domain, the recoding of the performance will still be protected by copyright.  It is this second part that gets many into trouble when using older music within various projects.  While the underlying composition may be in the public domain, the recording of it may still be protected by copyright.  And if a group makes an arrangement of the work, that new work could be subject to copyright.  The moral of the story?  Don’t assume that because something is old, it is fair game for you to use as you wish.