I have recently discovered a new archive with digitized sheet music, the archive of the Dutch broadcasting corporation http://www.muziekschatten.nl/
In this archive I found the Serenade by Riccardo Drigo and I have searched for information about this composition and its composer.
I have not found a very detailed biography of Riccardo Drigo, but the article in the Wikipedia contains the most important facts.
The first video shows the arrangement of this Serenade for violin and piano by Leopold Auer, the music for this version can be found at the IMSLP (see below) or in the Internet Archive.
Drigo – Serenade – Leopold Auer
http://www.alexanderscherbakov.com Rare live concert recording of a Leopold Auer transcription for violin and piano of the Serenade by Drigo from the Opera “Les Millions de Harleqins”.
A historical recording from 1914 – the notes to this video contain the most importan facts about the biography of Riccardo Drigo:
Forentine Quartet – Drigo’s Serenade (1914)
Riccardo Drigo (composer)
Francis J. Lapitino (arranger)
performed by Florentine Quartet
Recorded February 25, 1914 (Camden, New Jersey)
Howard Rattay: violin
Clement Barone: flute
Rosario Bourdon: cello
Francis J. Lapitino: harp
Riccardo Eugenio Drigo (1846 – 1930) was an Italian composer of ballet music and opera. He was also a conductor and a pianist. Drigo is noted for his long career as director of music of the Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg, Russia and was considered to be one of the finest theatrical conductors in Europe.
In 1900, while working on the score for ballet, Les Millions d’Arlequin, Drigo took daily walks through the St. Petersburg Summer Garden and along the banks of the Neva River, all the while thinking of his native Italy. During one such daily walk, Drigo composed the ballet’s famous “Serenade”, which he set to the accompaniment of a solo mandolin. In 1919 Drigo was finally repatriated to his native Italy and he accepted the post of kapellmeister to the Garibaldi Theatre in Padua where he had begun his career many years before. In 1926 he composed the comic opera Flaffy Raffles for the Opera company of Padua’s Teatro Verdi, and in 1929 his last work was given, the opera Il garofano bianco (‘The White Carnation’) at the Garibaldi Theatre. He spent the remainder of his life conducting and composing masses and various songs, including a vocal version of the famous “Serenade” from Les millions d’Harlequin, which Beniamino Gigli made a world-wide hit.
Drigo – Serenade (Elman, violin) – with MP3 download
Drigo – Serenade
Micha Elman, violin; Wolfgang Rose, piano
Digitized by Patrick Wong
From RCA WDM 1328
This is a version of the Serenade played by a plucked instrument orchestra form Spain, the Serenade starts at ca. 5:30 after some other pieces.