LITURGICAL MUSIC FROM THE MASTERS OF THE FRENCH-FLEMISH SCHOOL


Evangelia dominicorum et festorum dierum musicis numeris pulcherrime comprehensa & ornata. 

n.p., n.p., n.d.. [Nuremberg, Ioann Montanus and Ulric Neuber 1554-5]. (with)

Selectissimarum Cantionum de Praecipuis Sanctorum Dei domesticorum Festis, quinq vocibus Harmoniacis illustratarum. Discantus.

Nuremberg, Ioann Montanus and Ulric Neuber, 1550.

£11,500

FIRST EDITIONS. Oblong 4to. Seven volumes in one. 1) ff. (54), (52), (68), (38), (57), (60). (AA2, BB-OO4; AA-NN4; AA-RR4 (RR4 blank); AA-II4, KK2; AA-OO4, PP2 (PP2 blank); AA-PP4 (PP4 blank), lacking MM1-2 in second work), ff. (30), A-G4, H2. Prefaces in Roman letter, text in Italic. Part titles within ornate woodcut frame, woodcut initials in various sizes, woodcut musical notation, “Summus M. Johannis Brigman [?] 1599” at head of title, “M Joannis Dietrich Summus 1578” in lower margin, another illegible beneath dated 1608, extensive contemporary marginal notes to outer blank margin of second leaf, C19 Jesuit library stamp to blank margin of first title, remains of tabs to each title page. First title fractionally dusty, minor light marginal water staining to lower margin and at gutter in places, the odd marginal thumb mark, last two leaves loose. A very good, clean copy in contemporary pigskin over boards, covers triple ruled to a panel design, outer panel with a fine blind-stamped roll of Biblical figures, inner panel with triple ruled lozenge filled with blind-stamped floral roll, fleurons to center and corners, ‘Discant’ stamped in black on upper cover, spine with raised bands blind ruled in compartments, remains of ties, upper corners worn, some rubbing.

Rare and important liturgical part-books containing a huge collection of sacred motets covering the entire church year, remarkably complete with all six parts, including compositions from all the major composers of the Franco-Flemish music school, some of the most important and influential composers of the Renaissance who dominated music throughout Europe. We have located two other copies in the Royal library of Belgium, one in six parts that collates exactly as this, though without the ‘Selectissimarum Cantionum’, and another in five parts, otherwise collating the same way; both without a general title as here. The general title, given above, is taken from the tenor part-book. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek also has all five part books.

These are the only recorded copies of any parts of this important and monumental work. The second work is even rarer, with only one copy, held in Halle, Universitatis-und Landesbibliotheek Sachen-Anhalt, also in five parts. The first part-book in six volumes contains works by all the major composers of the high Renaissance of the Franco-Flemish school including Alard, Clemens non Papa, J. Conseil, Crequillon, Fouchier, J. Gallus, Gascongne, Gero, Gombert, Hellinck, Hollander, H. Isaac, Jacquet, Jonckers, Josquin des Prez, Larchier, Lassus, Lupino, Morales, Mouton, Péton, Pionnier, Richafort, Soir, Verdelot, and Willaert amongst others. “Most significant musically was the pervasive influence of musicians from the Low Countries, whose domination of the musical scene during the last half of the 15th century is reflected in the period designations the Franco-Flemish school.” Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Led by Josquin des Prez, their generation was extraordinarily rich in fine composers. Jointly they forged an international musical language that spread throughout Europe and consequently were in great demand at the courts of Italy, France, and Germany, often spending much of their lives absent from their homelands. The generation following Josquin brought greater stylistic diversity without, however, diminishing the influence of the Netherlanders. Nicolas Gombert and Jacobus Clemens continued in the imitative style of their predecessors. Textures tended to be thicker, and writing in five or more parts became common. Adriaan Willaert, Cipriano de Rore, and Jacob Arcadelt were all expert in different national idioms, and Orlando di Lasso was the most versatile of all the later masters. The work contains two motets by the great composer, ‘Congratulamini mihi omnes’ and ‘Virtute magna.’

Grove states that di Lasso’s first two separate publications appeared in 1555 and were printed at Venice, so these are probably amongst the first of his works published. “He emerges to the light of day as the fully equipped musician with an already strongly marked individuality of style.” Grove. He was only twenty-two at the time of publication. Unfortunately, the second of his works was removed at an early date from this volume. Indeed the temptation to take out individual works from such a large compilation might explain why so few copies survive. The second title includes works by J. Arcadelt, Bastart, P. Cadeac, T. Crecquillon, N. Gombert, Jachet, F. Layolle, Lupi, Petrus Massenus, D. Phinot, Pionnier and C. de Sermisy. Nicolas Gombert and Thomas Crecquillon are the most represented in this compilation, both great composers and followers of Josquin. It is very unusual to find complete part books of this period.

OCLC Number: 30006819. 2) OCLC Number: 181915022.

L1222

Print This Item Print This Item