Borowski's Music Acquisitions | Newberry

Borowski's Music Acquisitions

"To all Lovers of Harmony..." from the 1678 edition of Christopher Simpson's book of music theory. Case V 5 .8182

“To all Lovers of Harmony…” from the 1678 edition of Christopher Simpson’s book of music theory. Case V 5 .8182

This essay, written by Felix Borowski, was originally published in The Newberry Library Bulletin in two parts. Part 1 was published in the Second Series, number 5 (1950). Part 2 was published in the Second Series, number 8 (1952). Both essays were originally titled “Recent Acquisitions in Music.” Borowski was a bibliographer at the Newberry in the 1940s-1950s.

Part 1

Some of the latest acquisitions in the music department underscore the increasing value of that department to scholars, particularly to those seeking material concerning musical developments in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Of great rarity is Recerchari, Motetti, Canzoni, by Marco Antonio Cavazzoni, otherwise known as Marcoantonio di Bologna. So little known is this that no mention of it is to be found in Fétis, Eitner, Pougin, Grove or other standard reference works. Yet in the work, published at Venice in 1523, are to be found some of the earliest examples of instrumental music. Not less valuable are the three books of lute music—the first and second issued in 1546, the third in 1547—by Francesco da Milano. The first contains lute arrangements of Jannequin’s Chant des Oiseaux and La Guerre, two works belonging to the dawn of program music. The last book includes pieces by Francesco’s pupil, Perino. In the field of viol music, three volumes by Marais, lutanist to Louis XIV, are of uncommon interest as showing the character of viol pieces in the early 18th century.

In the vocal section the Library is proud of its recent purchase of first editions of ballets and operas by Lully—Prosperine (1680), Le Triomphe de l’Amour (1681), Persée (1682), Roland (1685), Le Temple de la Paix (1685), Armide et Renaud (1686), Atys (1689)—these supplementing other and similar works previously acquired, and those in the collected editions of the Revue Musicale. To the same class belong the lately added first editions of orchestral scores of the opera-ballets Callirhóe (1712) by André Cardinal Destouches, Les Amours de Protée (1720) by Charles Hubert Gervais, and the tragedy, Jephté (1732)], by Michel Pinolet de Montéclair.

There should not be omitted, in the department of dramatic music, mention of a small but valuable collection, The Favourite Songs in the Opera call’d Semiramide, by Sigr. Hasse, and a similar one of his arias in Il Re Pastore, Demetrio and Il Demofonte. These evidently were given performances in London in the first half of the 18th century, and the Favourite Songs were issued in score by John Walsh, Handel’s publisher. What makes them of more than ordinary worth is the circumstance that the collected manuscripts of Hasse, intended for publication at the instance of the King of Poland, were almost entirely destroyed at the siege of Dresden in 1760. The Library owns other works by this once popular composer.

In the department of secular vocal music, a rare collection of part songs is contained in Scelta di Madrigali, Florence, 1582, which brings together what its title-page declares to be works “by the most excellent composers of our time.” The book includes music by such famous masters as Orlandus Lassus and Andrea Gabrieli, and madrigals by much less renowned musicians such as Giovanni Nasco, Vincenzo Ferro, Mattio Rampaloni, Vincentino, and Almanno Aiolli. Another much later work is the set of six canzonettes which Joseph Haydn composed, printed, and sold in London during his first visit in 1792, and a second set during the second visit two years later.

Among recently acquired books on musical theory are Christopher Simpson’s A Compendium of Practical Musick, London, 1667, and Mersenne’s Ordinis Minim. Harmonicorum Libri, Paris, 1636, both important in the history of music education.

More curious than important is another addition—An Essay to the Advancement of Musick by casting away the Perplexity of different Cliffs [Clefs]. And uniting all sorts of Musick: lute, viol, violin, organ, harpsechord, voice, etc., in one Universal Character. This was by a clergyman, Thomas Salmon, who well might have been “perplexed” by the seven clefs used in his day (treble, soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass). His plan, published in 1672, was to employ only three, which he called trable, mean and bass. But the world paid no attention.

Part 2

Works of more than ordinary interest and importance were acquired recently by the music department of the Newberry Library. Of Dutch origin is the Neder-landtsche gedenckclanck by Adrianus Valerius, published at Haarlem in 1626. This presents numerous Dutch, French, English, and Italian songs, with occasional dance airs, with their texts and lute tablatures. The book also contains a description of the political troubles that beset the Netherlands in the 17th century, and a number of engravings of historical character. Of the same date is Heemskerck’s Minnekunst, dealing with the German Minnesingers of the 12th to the 14th centuries. To the Netherland school belongs Stichtelycke rymen, om te lesen ofte singhen by Dirk Rafaëlszoon Camphuysen, bearing the date 1647. This is the best and the most complete edition of a book originally issued in 1602, and contains a portrait of the compiler and fifty-nine emblematic engravings. The tunes are set forth in lozenge-shaped notes which at the beginning of the 17th century were not yet superseded by the oval and round notes of modern notation. Camphuysen’s book attained great popularity, and many further editions of it followed in the 17th and 18th centuries. A third Dutch volume, also a song book, is Gerbrand Adriaenszoon Bredero’s Boerthig, Amoerus en aandachtigh groot lied-boeck, Amsterdam, 1622, the first edition of a work highly considered in its day.

Orlando de Lassus who, though of Netherlandish birth, spent the greater part of his life at Munich in the service of Duke Albert V, is represented among the recently acquired works by two wonderful volumes. One of these is the Second Book of Madrigals for five voices, published at Rome in 1557. Not all of the pieces in it are by de Lassus. The book opens with a Canzona of which at least the text is by Petrarch; one of the madrigals is by de Lassus’ contemporary Giovanni Annimuccia, one by Hettor, and one by de Lassus’ publisher, Antonio Barré. The other work of the master is a large folio, the first part of the set Patrocinium Musices, published in Munich in 1573 and dedicated to the Count Palatine of the Rhine. It contains twenty-one motets respectively for four, five, and six voices, each one adorned with an initial woodcut. The title page shows an orchestra of winds and strings.

Two newly acquired early Spanish books are of the greatest importance. The Liturgies Processionals Dominicas was published at Seville by two foreign printers, Maynardus Ungut and Stanislas Polonus, in 1494. A remarkable example of clear printing—four red lines with square black notes—it is said by Rafael B. Muñoz (in his El primer libro de musica impreso en España) to be the first music book printed in Spain. Of equal interest in another department of Iberian music is the Libro Llamado Arte de tañer Fantasia by Thomas de Sancta Maria, a Dominican monk who published it at Valladolid in 1565. The book gives rules for the technique of and improvisation on keyboard instruments, including instructions on the position of the hands, fingering, touch, musical ornamentation, and the like.

Another Spanish treatise is De Musica Libri Septem by Francesco de Salinas, published in Salamanca in 1577. The author, who was blind from childhood, became one of the most learned musical theorists of his day. But what makes his book especially valuable is not the author’s erudition but rather the fact that, in a discussion of the relation of music to classical prosody, he provides a collection of Spanish folksong which is the earliest in existence.

Musical scholars will find of unique interest an Italian treatise Recanetum de Musica Aurea by Stephano Vanneo, an Augustinian monk, published in Rome in 1533. This book is not only one of the best works on musical theory of its day, but the copy acquired by the Newberry contains three pages of manuscript in the hand of Gioseffo Zarlino, greatest musical theorist of the 16th century. A number of woodcuts illustrate the playing of musical instruments, one depicts Vanneo himself handing flowers to some children, and two show the Guidonioan Hand, the eleventh-century aid in memorizing the scale and solmization syllables. In this connection might be mentioned another recent acquisition, the Modulata Pallas by Erycius Putaneus, published in 1599. Another Italian work dealing with musical theory is Orazio Tigrini’s Il compendio della musica, printed in Venice in 1588.

Of French origin is Principes de l’acompagnement du clavecin by Jean Francois Dandrieu, published about 1725. Its author is concerned partly with chords and their inversions, as shown in figured basses, and partly with the accompaniment of vocal music from such basses. In a preface, he declared that the simplicity of his treatise is such that it permits a clavecinist of even “mediocre attention” to become successful in accompanying a singer.

In the department of music itself—as distinguished from books on the subject—two volumes of English madrigals are of manifest importance. John Wilbye, one of the greatest of English madrigalists, is represented by his Second set of Madrigales to 3, 4, 5 and 6 parts, apt for voyals and voyces, published in 1609. All six parts are in evidence, in contrast to so many similar works of the 16th and 17th centuries in which just one—the Cantus, perhaps—has survived. Of like distinction is the First booke of balletts to five voices by Thomas Morley, printed in 1595. This work, too, contains the parts for all five voices. It comprises twenty-one madrigals including “now is the month of maying,” most famous perhaps of all English madrigals.

In a different field is the engraved score of the Russian opera Nachal’noe upravlenie Olega (“The Early Reign of Oleg”), published in St. Petersburg in 1791. The libretto is by Empress Catherine the Great who was unable to tell one note from another but wrote a number of libretti for composers at her court. Three of these collaborated on “The Early Reign of Oleg”: Guiseppe Sarti, Carlo Canobbio, and Vasilii Pashkevich. The performance took place at St. Petersburg in 1790.

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