Keeping the score
Music in the Library
Case 1-2 : The middle ages and the Reformation
Boethius (d. 524)
Boethius’ treatise on music, written in the early sixth century, is one of two surviving books of four by him on the quadrivium, the pillars of early medieval thought. One of Boethius’ principal concerns was the division of the octave on Pythagorean principles. Though ingenious mathematically, it conflicts with the natural harmonic series. This conflict between mathematical division of the octave and the natural harmonic series is still with us today in the differences between the equal temperament of the piano and other temperaments used for tuning the harpsichord for early music. This twelfth-century copy is handsomely illustrated.
MS Ii.3.12, ff. 73v-74
Giovanni Spataro (1458-1541)
In this theoretical work Spataro defends the modernist approach to tuning and the division of the octave promoted by his teacher Bartolomeo Ramis de Pereia from the criticism of the conservative Nicolaus Burtius’ Musices opusculum (1487). Bonnie Blackburn writes in the New Grove Dictionary of Music ‘Spataro valued reason above authority in support of his new ideas. He distinguished sharply between rules for beginners and theory for learned and speculative musicians; he claimed that while the rules of composition could be taught, gifted musicians were born, not made.’
Inc.5.B.10.25, leaves C2v-C3
Guillermus de Podio (fl. late 15th century)
The main part of de Podio’s Ars musicorum (1495) is a new exposition of Boethius’ division of the scale according to Pythagoras. In this he was distinctly old fashioned, and in direct opposition to the new theories expounded in Ramis de Pereia’s De musica tractatus. Book 7 is concerned with the practical notation of complex rhythms using ligatures (two pitches joined by a single line or pen stroke). In this publication no attempt was made to print the notated musical examples, which have been added in manuscript.
Inc.3.H.1.5, leaves 54v-55
Early Cambridge songs: Carmina qui quondam; Heu quam precipiti
This single leaf comes from a section of eleven leaves of Latin songs, known as ‘The Cambridge songs’, which are part of a very large compendium of educational reading material probably used in St Augustine’s Priory in Canterbury in the years just before 1066. It contains poems from Boethius’ De consolatione philosophiae, which was a very popular text. The musical notation is some of the earliest for secular song, and suggests that the same melody was repeated for each stanza, in a strophic structure.
MS Gg.5.35, single leaf
Later Cambridge songs: [S]alve festa; [R]erum Deus conditor; [P]ax in t[er]ris; [C]antu miro
These leaves from a thirteenth-century songbook, possibly from Shepshed in Leicestershire, were used in the fourteenth century as fly leaves in the binding of another book. Whether the eight leaves are complete in themselves or are a fragment of a larger collection remains unknown, but they do start and end with a complete piece. There are twenty-two monophonic songs, twelve for two voices and one for three voices. The Latin and two French texts are on sacred and secular subjects, celebrating St Nicholas, St Steven and other Christmastide saints, as well as Spring, Love, and other moral and satirical subjects.
MS Ff.1.17, ff. 7v-8 (olim 300v & 299r)
The Winchester Songs: Wel wer hym that wyst; Trew, on wam ys al my tryst
In common with other items on display this group of songs is one small but seemingly complete section of a large compendium, in this instance of sermons and moral tracts. Of the fourteen songs ten are in English and four in French. There are also two rounds and one responsory in Latin. Their earliest owner (around 1390-1400) was Thomas Turke, one of the first fellows of Winchester College, and one of the songs is in praise of Winchester. The notation now fully indicates the rhythm. It is one of only two known manuscripts of English song of the period.
MS Add. 5943, ff. 162v-163
The Dublin troper: Cibavit eos ex adipe frumenti
This manuscript of plainsong music for the mass was written in about 1360 for St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. It contains troped Kyries and Glorias (i.e. with additional or alternative poetic verses to the traditional texts), sequences for the liturgical year, chants for the Sanctus and Agnus Dei, and sequences in honour of the Virgin Mary. It is a rich collection of these specially composed additional chants for the mass. The ornamental capital on the right hand page begins the mass for Corpus Christi. This feast was introduced in 1264, and the composition of its liturgy is widely credited to Thomas Aquinas.
MS Add. 710, ff. 70v-71
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
After Martin Luther’s break with Rome in 1517 he set about creating a German language version of the mass. Luther’s closest musical advisor, Johann Walter, wrote ‘One sees, hears and understands at once how the Holy Ghost has been active not only in the authors who composed the Latin hymns … but in Herr Luther himself, who has invented most of the poetry and melody of the German chants. And it can be seen from the German Sanctus [Jesiaja dem Propheten geschach] how he arranged all the notes to the text with the right accent and concent in masterly fashion.’ (Paul Nettl’s translation from Luther and music, Philadelphia, 1948.)
MR220.d.50.1, leaves E1v-E2
John Merbecke (ca 1510-ca 1585)
The newly reformed Church of Henry VIII was made more radically puritan in the reign of Edward VI (1547-1553). It was then that John Merbecke published his plainsong versions of the music for the Communion service, using the texts of the first English Prayer Book of 1549. The publication of the revised Prayer Book in 1552 rendered Merbecke’s work obsolete, and it lay forgotten until the mid-nineteenth century. His chants are now being sung again in Anglican and other Protestant churches, some 450 years after they were written.
Syn.7.55.55, leaves I4v-K1
The Catholic Church took full advantage of the new techniques of printing, and the tradition of writing plainsong with black musical notes on red lines was accomplished, with a little difficulty, by double impression printing. This particular edition of the Missal includes some musical notes printed in red. While each line of the musical stave is made up from long single pieces of type, these red notes are printed from a small block which includes both the four lines of the stave and the single note or pair of musical notes. This is the earliest example of a piece of ‘music type’.
F151.c.7.1, leaves 135v-136
Case 3: Renaissance music
Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594)
Orlando di Lasso was one of the most successful composers of his age, and was ennobled by both the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II and Pope Gregory XIII. He visited Paris in 1571 at the invitation of Charles IX, and this beautifully printed edition, with its delightful capital letter, was one of several musical publications to appear during his stay. Le Roy and Ballard were the patent holders for the printing of music in Paris and produced very high quality work.
MR280.c.55.3, leaves 16v-17
Bought through the Friends of the Library
William Byrd (1542 or 43-1623)
This extremely unusual publication of a single part song printed in separate parts is unique and incomplete; only the Cantus Secundus and the Bassus parts survive (the Bassus at the Bodleian). The words are by Thomas Watson, and it was printed by Thomas East, to whom Byrd, owner of the patent for printing music, assigned the printing of his other publications in the late 1580s. The association of John Case with the anonymous The praise of musicke ( London, 1586) is mistaken. Case did write an Apologia musices in 1588, but this is in Latin, and not the same work.
Elias Nicolaus Ammerbach (ca 1530-1597)
Johann Sebastian Bach owned more than one copy of this collection of keyboard arrangements of renaissance polyphony. He was familiar with this concise form of organ notation and sometimes resorted to it when space was short, for instance in his autograph manuscript of the Orgelbuchlein (‘Little organ book’). This copy has Bach’s monogram on the title page, and was given to the music historian Charles Burney by C.P.E. Bach in 1772 during Burney’s tour of Europe.
Case 4: The art of accompaniment
Godfrey Keller (d. 1704)
This was one of the earliest and most widely circulating treatises on the continuo in English, explaining the art of improvising chords to harmonise the bass-line of a piece of music. It was published soon after the author’s death, and reprinted within a few years. In 1731 a revised edition of it was added as an appendix to William Holder’s equally influential Treatise on the natural grounds and principles of harmony (first published 1693).
MR588.a.70.1, pp. 3-4
F.T. Arnold Bequest, 1940
Quirino Gasparini (1721-1778)
One of the many basso continuo parts in the Arnold Collection, showing the bass line with figures indicating the intended harmony, which the keyboard player would then add as they played. This set of trio sonatas for two violins and continuo is one of several unique items in the Arnold collection which have not been edited or published in modern times. Sonata IV is displayed.
MR320.a.75.316, pp. 8-9
F.T. Arnold Bequest, 1940
Johann Philipp Kirnberger (1721-1783)
Kirnberger was a pupil of J.S. Bach, and later held the post of music master to the Princess Anna Amalia in Berlin. His most important works were theoretical, including this book on continuo and composition. Its importance is enhanced by the inclusion of this fully written out keyboard continuo part for the Andante from the trio for flute, violin and continuo from J.S. Bach’s Musical Offering.
MR588.c.75.2, pp. 14-15
F.T. Arnold Bequest, 1940
Case 5-6: Baroque and classical music
Jean Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)
Lully’s court operas, written for the glorification of Louis XIV, were sumptuous theatrical events involving magnificent scenery, stage machinery and dancing by both courtiers and professional dancers. Though of Italian origin, Lully rose to become the most important composer in France. From 1679 to his death in 1687 he produced a new large scale opera nearly every year. These were performed both in Paris and at Versailles, and were published in full score. Such was their popularity that several were issued in illustrated editions in the early eighteenth century.
MR260.a.70.703, pp. 84-85
John Blow (d. 1708)
This unique libretto for John Blow’s Venus and Adonis is annotated by John Verney, whose niece was a pupil at the school, with the date (‘17th Aprill 1684’) and the names of the performers. It is a key document in the continuing arguments over the date of Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas, the earliest libretto of which was also for a performance by Priest’s school, probably in 1689. Both operas were probably performed by professionals before the young gentlewomen of Priest’s school took their turn.
Sel.2.123(6), pp. 2-3
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Haydn visited England from Vienna in 1791 and again in 1794, and on both occasions brought new compositions with him, including the famous London symphonies, to perform in concerts for the violinist and producer Johann Salomon. On his first visit one of the relatively new works was this solo cantata composed in 1789. Haydn undertook to publish it himself, and to control the number of copies printed each copy was authorised by his signature.
Breast pin owned by Haydn
A banded-agate pin with a device of Apollo’s lyre engraved between two dolphins and a bull. It is datable to the late Augustan Republic (first century B.C.), possibly from Northern Italy. Presented by Haydn to his pupil Neukomm who was himself a composer, it was then given by Neukomm to Mrs. Lloyd of Dublin, and by her to Sir Robert Stewart. The musicologist Marion Scott acquired it from Stewart, and from her it came to the Library.
Marion Scott Bequest, 1946
Christian Giuseppe Lidarti (1730-ca 1793)
Lidarti was an Austro-Italian composer, trained in Vienna, whose small-scale Hebrew settings are found in the archives of the Amsterdam Jewish community. He spent most of his career in Pisa. This manuscript was bought as an Italian oratorio. Only when it arrived in the Library was it discovered that the words are in romanised Hebrew. This setting of the Hebrew words astonished and excited the Jewish musicological community, as the largest scale pre-twentieth century musical work in Hebrew. An edition was prepared from this manuscript for performance during the 75th anniversary celebrations of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2001.
MS Add. 9467, ff. 94v-95
James Hook (1746-1828)
Hook was one of the most successful and prolific song writers of the late Georgian era. From 1774 to 1820 he was the summer musical director for the famous Vauxhall Gardens. During the main season he supplied music for numerous productions at the Covent Garden and Drury Lane theatres, including several operas with spoken dialogue. His most successful was The lady of the manor, first staged at Covent Garden in 1778. This manuscript was compiled from the large miscellany of Hook’s autograph music presented by the family of A.H. Mann, organist of King’s College from 1876 to his death in 1929.
MS Add. 6632, ff.182v-183
Case 7-8: The nineteenth and twentieth centuries
Ode performed in the Senate-House at Cambridge, July 1, 1749 at the installation of His Grace Thomas Holles, Duke of Newcastle, Chancellor of the University, [words] by Mr Mason; set to music by Mr Boyce.
This score is the earliest surviving of the odes traditionally composed to celebrate the installation of a new Chancellor of the University. As is often the case with occasional music, the words are not of the highest order. The composer was William Boyce (1711-1779) and the score is in his own hand. Mr Mason is the poet William Mason (1725-1797). It was given to Mr Shield by the son of the composer, and presented to the Library by Thomas Attwood Walmisley, Professor of Music, in 1851.
MS Nn.6.38, ff. 27v-28
Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)
The tradition of presenting an ode composed by the Professor of Music continued throughout the nineteenth century. This example by Stanford, performed by the members of the Cambridge University Musical Society, was the last. The opening takes its melody from the chimes of Great St Mary’s Church. This is Stanford’s own autograph score.
MS Add. 9589
Presented by the Cambridge University Musical Society, 1995
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Vaughan Williams is one of a relatively small number of composers to have gained a doctoral degree in music by study, rather than being awarded an honorary doctorate later in life. The portfolio of compositions (the equivalent of a dissertation) he submitted, which was required to be deposited in the University Library, comprised movements of a mass for chorus and orchestra. They have never been published, and probably never performed.
MS Mus.Doc.Exercises 26/1, ff. 8v-9
Deposited under University regulations, 1899
Peter Tranchell (1922-1993)
Amongst the brightest stars of the post-war Cambridge music scene was Peter Tranchell. As an undergraduate he contributed much music to the Footlights, masterminding the music for three vintage May Week shows in 1947-1949. In the early 1950s he founded the Cambridge University Light Music Society whose greatest triumph was the production at the Arts Theatre of Tranchell’s musical Zuleika Dobson in 1954. Three years later it was given a London production at the Saville Theatre. The beautiful sets for the Cambridge production were designed by Malcolm Burgess.
MS Tranchell 2/11
MS Tranchell Papers 14/5/6
Bequeathed by the composer, 1993
William Alwyn (1905-1985)
William Alwyn made his living by writing music for films, for which he gained a high reputation. His heart was in writing for the concert hall, but by the 1960s when he could afford to stop writing for films, the musical establishment had turned against his inherently melodic and harmonic style. The harp concerto Lyra angelica is one of his most beautiful works. This cover for the fair copy of the score shows several of the sketches for the work, and some indecision over its title.
Presented by the William Alwyn Foundation, 2004
William Walton (1902-1983)
Walton worked in collaboration with Laurence Olivier as director to compose scores for Olivier’s great cinematic productions of Henry V, Hamlet and Richard III. Film music comprises precisely timed sections, many lasting only a few seconds or minutes. For practical reasons the score for each section is nearly always copied on a separate group of pages, and complete scores of film music rarely exist. This 2’32” (or 2’49”) section is numbered 18.M.3 and is the funeral march for Ophelia.
MS Add. 8927, ff. 1v-2
Eugene Goossens (1893-1962)
Captain John Noel’s silent film of Mallory’s ill-fated attempt on the ascent of Everest was one of the famous films of the 1920s. At its premiere and first run of performances in 1924 it was accompanied by a full orchestra under the baton of Eugene Goossens, with a score compiled by him from a variety of suitable music with newly composed linking passages. This original score was discovered in a job-lot of miscellaneous music from Goossens’ library bought at Sotheby’s in 1996. The bundle included a programme and the cue sheet for the various sections of the film.
MS Add. 9373/15
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
This manuscript copy of 1920 is in the hand of Stravinsky’s second wife Katya and contains some corrections in Stravinsky’s hand at bars 123 and 140. The manuscript was subsequently amended in red ink, but this represents the earliest version of the work. It was probably used for the earliest performances, and the markings are probably those of Ernest Ansermet (1883-1969), its first conductor.
MS Add. 9229, pp. 24-25
Bought through the Friends of the Library from the estate of Norman Del Mar, 1994
Hans Keller (1919-1985)
Born in Vienna, the writer Hans Keller took refuge in England in 1938. From the mid-1940s he wrote extensively and provocatively on film music, Britten, and Schoenberg. He came to prominence as a self-styled ‘anti-critic’ through the outspoken journal Music survey. In 1959 he joined the BBC, and over the next twenty years took charge successively of music talks, chamber music, orchestral music, regional symphony orchestras and new music. The archive comprises numerous unpublished works and a vast number of letters, programmes and annotated scores.
MS Keller BBC/B3/1
Presented by Milein Cosman (Mrs H. Keller), 1994
Case 9: Popular music
The dancing-master, or, Directions for dancing country dances
TheEnglish dancing master is an extraordinary compendium of popular tunes for dancing. It was first published in 1650, and over the next sixty years eighteen new editions appeared. The melodies came from a wide selection of sources, and included ancient traditional and folk melodies as well as tunes from the latest theatrical shows. All of the melodies have instructions for dancing, even those that were originally songs. The volume is open at two melodies that were added to the ninth edition of 1696, both from plays of 1695: William Congreve’s Love for love, and Thomas Scott’s comedy The mock marriage.
MR400.d.70.1, pp. 212-213
Cantus, songs and fancies: to three, four, or five parts, both apt for voices and viols, with a brief introduction to musick, as is taught into the Musick-School of Aberdeen
The Music School at the King’s College in Aberdeen was one of the oldest musical establishments in Scotland, in existence in the early sixteenth century. The English songs in this collection are mostly traditional or popular songs. The melody to the twenty-first song (to a modest sacred text When father Adam) was first published as Prins Daphne in Holland in 1626, and again in 1634 as When Daphne did from Phoebus fly. These original more risqué words were published as a broadside ballad by Thomas Symcocke in 1624.
MR280.d.65.2, leaves F1v-F2
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
Several of Britten and Auden’s cabaret songs of 1937-1938 were written for the singer Hedli Anderson. The music was not published until 1980, four years after the composer’s death, so for many years Anderson was the only singer who performed the songs. This well-thumbed copyist’s manuscript comes from her collection, as do her promotional photograph and the postcard of Britten.
MS Add. 8959/37
Bought from the estate of Hedli Anderson, 1993
Irving Berlin (1888-1989)
These three covers have been selected from the many thousands of popular songs and dance music publications accumulated by legal deposit by the Library since the middle of the nineteenth century. In addition to British publications a fair number of American imprints have also been received. These items give just a flavour of the great range of such single songs held by the Library.
The origin of the melody for the American National Anthem (the 'Star spangled banner') was shrouded in mystery until this diary entry in Stevens' Recollections was discovered in 1975. Stevens was a member of the Anacreontic Society, and in this memoir reports how the Society worked in its early days, noting that 'The President was Ralph Tomlinson … He wrote the poetry of the Anacreontic song, which Stafford Smith set to music.' The discovery was made public in 1976, the bicentenary year of the Declaration of Independence, and published the following year by William Lichtenwanger in the Library of Congress quarterly journal.
MS Add. 9109/1, pp. 69-70
MR290.a.75.118(36), pp. 2-3
Case 10: Lute and consort manuscripts
John Dowland (1563?-1626)
Three pieces for lute solo, two by the most famous lute composer of his age, John Dowland, for whom this manuscript is an important source. The music is written in tablature notation in which each line represents one of the six strings of the lute. The letter ‘a’ indicates an open string, and the letters ‘b’, ‘c’, ‘d’ and so on indicate the stopping with a finger of the left hand the first, second, third, etc., fret from the top of the instrument. Above the stave are the signs indicating the rhythm.
MS Dd.9.33, ff. 19v-20
Music for broken consort (recorder, violin, bass viol, lute, cittern, and bandora)
Four of probably six partbooks from the collection of music copied by Mathew Holmes in Oxford in the mid-1590s. Even though they were all copied by the same person, the pieces were not copied in the same order into each part book. These openings all contain at least one piece in common: Nutmegs & Ginger.
The lady in the main panel picture is playing a lute. The cittern is a four-stringed instrument, illustrated at the bottom left hand corner of the picture on the panel. Its tablature is similar to the lute (see caption for MS Dd.9.33) and has four lines for its four strings.
Recorder: MS Dd.5.21, ff. 6v-7
A biwa is a lute, as illustrated in the smaller manuscript. The scroll is of biwa music originally performed in China in the tenth century and copied into this scroll in 1566. The Japanese court set out to imitate the great Tang emperors of China (A.D. 618-907), including the performance of Chinese music. In order to do this they devised methods of notation to transmit Chinese music to Japan. These manuscripts are from a collection of nine scrolls and over forty other documents from the Gagaku musical archive of the Kikutei family in Kyoto.
MS Picken 178
MS Picken 157
Presented by Laurence Picken, 1978
Case 11: Choirbooks, partbooks and scores
The main work in this manuscript is the anonymous Missa O quam suavis, which starts on the following page. This illustrated opening contains the music of a thee-voice antiphon composed as an enigmatic puzzle-canon on the words ‘Ave Regina’. The ascription at the top right corner reads ‘Hoc fecit m[atr]es maris’ (Mother of the sea made this). The name is a riddle that has not been solved. Whoever the composer is, he stands on the right, offering the keys to King Henry VII (holding the Tudor rose), for whose court the manuscript was written in around 1500.
MS Nn.6.46, ff.1v-2
Wyllm Pasche (fl. 1513-1537)
Thomas Aschwell (b. ca 1478, d. after 1513)
An alto partbook, probably copied in East Anglia around 1525-1530, possibly for the private chapel of Thomas Fiennes, Baron Dacre. It contains masses, motets, a Magnificat and a Te Deum, by John Taverner, Robert Fayfax, Richard Davy, the Norwich composer Stephen Prowett, and others. Written on parchment with an illuminated first initial (see panel), red titles and occasionally gilded capitals, it is an early example of music copied into separate parts. The Bassus part survives in the library of St John’s College.
MS Dd.13.27, ff. 30v-31
James Clifford (1622-1698)
This collection of anthem texts is extraordinarily important in the restoration of church music after the re-establishment of the Church of England by King Charles II after 1660. This and the much larger second edition of 1664 record the existence of a vast repertoire of anthems of which the words were known to Clifford. The music for many of these anthems does not survive. It is open at a page showing two texts set by Adrian Batten, for which no music now survives.
Syn.8.66.5, pp. 70-71
Henry Purcell (1659-1695), in the hand of James Hawkins (1662?-1729)
James Hawkins was organist of Ely Cathedral for nearly forty years from 1682-1729. He was one of the more important collectors of cathedral music in the early eighteenth century and copied 15 volumes of anthems and services in score by hand. His collecting also extended to more ‘modern’ music, and includes works by John Blow and Henry Purcell. Amongst the latter is the anthem O consider my adversity which he copied three times, and which survives in no other source.
MS EDC 10/7/20, pp. 116-117On deposit from Ely Cathedral