The first set of English madrigales: to 3. 4. 5. and 6. voices.

London : printed by Thomas Este, [1604]


FIRST EDITION. 4to. Six parts in one vol. Cantus: 16 unnumbered ll. [A]² B-D⁴ E². Alto: 16 unnumbered ll. [A]² B-D⁴ E². Tenor: 14 unnumbered ll.[A]² B-D⁴. Quintus: 10 unnumbered ll.[A]² B-C⁴. Sextus: 5 unnumbered ll.[A]² B⁴. Bass: 16 unnumbered ll. [A]² B-D⁴ E². Six partbooks, each with separate dated title page and register. Roman letter, some Italic. Type set music, titles to each part within fine typographical borders, date within small scrolled woodcut border, fine suite of historiated, grotesque and floriated woodcut initials, (including one of the Saints). Armorial bookplate of John Whipple Frothingham on front endpaper, Robert S Pirie’s bookplate on pastedown, his pencil acquisition note above. Very light age yellowing, the very rare marginal mark. A fine copy, absolutely crisp and clean, in sumptuous C19th tan morocco by F. Bedford, (signed on turn in and fly) covers bordered with a triple gilt rule, fleurons gilt to outer corners, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, double gilt ruled in compartments richly gilt with small tools, green morocco title and printers labels gilt, edges double gilt ruled, inner dentelles richly gilt, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt.

First edition of the first set of madrigals by the English composer Thomas Bateson; a very fine complete set of these very rare works. “Thomas Bateson, an English writer of madrigals in the early 17th century. He is said to have been organist of Chester cathedral in 1599, and is believed to have been the first musical graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. He is known to have written church music, but his fame rests on his madrigals, which give him an important place among Elizabethan composers. He published a set of madrigals in 1604 and a second set in 1618, and both collections have been reprinted in recent years. He died in 1630.” DNB.

“A anthem in seven parts, ‘Holy Lord God Almighty’, was probably the exercise for his degree [at Dublin]. No other sacred music by Bateson is known, though a service of his was sung at Chester Cathedral up to the early part of the 19th century. His fame rests entirely on his madrigals. In 1604 he published ‘The first set of English madrigales’. The work is dedicated “To my honorable and most respected good friend Sir William Norres”. … At the back of the dedication is the madrigal ‘When Oriana walked to take the ayre,’ and the following note: ‘This song was sent too late, and should have been printed in the set of Orianas; but being a work of this author, I have placed it before the set of his songs.’ This refers to ‘The Triumphes of Oriana’, and the words of this madrigal were considered by Oliphant as “the best poetry in the set”. Bateson’s volume also contains a madrigal called ‘Oriana’s Farewell’, evidently written after the death of Queen Elisabeth. … Bateson has in the past been very generally regarded as one of the best of the English madrigal composers; but the discussion of their relative merits has hitherto been based upon a knowledge of no more than a small selection of their writings. A careful study of Bateson’s work as a whole, in his two large volumes containing altogether fifty eight madrigals, leaves the impression that he does not quite stand on the same level as the great leaders of the English madrigal school. … But the comparison of his work with that of the giants must not be allowed to to lead to the impression that Bateson did not write many fine madrigals, and this severe test of comparison is only introduced here to correct a prevailing estimate which does not appear quite a true one. One great point of merit in Bateson’s work is his admirable choice of lyric; he must have had a fine taste in poetry, and this in itself counted for much in madrigal composition.” Grove.

The scarce first edition of Bateson’s first set of madrigals, the Huth copy, (his sale, at Sotheby’s, Part 1, 15 November 1911, Lot 498.) Of the twelve surviving copies recorded in ESTC, five are imperfect; no copy other than this one, has appeared at auction.

STC 1586; ESTC S101050. Arber III. 247. Grove I pp 497-499.


Print This Item Print This Item