Liber processionum secundum ordinem fratrum predicatorum.

[Seville, Meynardum Ungut Alamannum et Stanislaum Polonum Socios, 1494].


FIRST EDITION. 4to. 113 unnumbered and unsigned ll., a7 b-n8 o10, wanting initial blank. Gothic letter, 33 lines, printed in red and black throughout, continuous printed music on 4-line red staves. Handful of initials supplied in ink in an early hand, a few white-on-red and white-on-black woodcut initials, large printer’s device to verso of last. a1 and a6 partly restored in lower margin, small repair to blank margin of 7 ll. (some using paper slips from ms. score in a C17/18 hand), 7 ll. strengthened at blank gutter, some finger soiling, occasional minor tears from outer edge, the odd marginal ink splash or light stain, k2-3 and k6-7 transposed, scattered wax on one leaf. A very good copy on thick paper in modern calf, blind-stamped to a C16-style Spanish panel design, gilt-lettered morocco labels, ‘Coleccion Alfageme-Fontanals’ stamped in blind, all edges sprinkled red, in slipcase. Music notation inked to one leaf in near contemporary hand, C15 Spanish ms. to verso of last leaf.

A remarkably fresh copy of the first edition of this handsome incunabulum—the first Spanish book with musical notation—finely printed, probably in double impression, in red and black throughout. In 1903, Haebler called this work rare and totally unknown to previous bibliographers as it was not recorded in Spain (557); in 1912, several copies were discovered in a Spanish Dominican monastery and thence dispersed (Vindel, ‘El arte’, V, 67). It remains however scarce. This famous processional is one of many liturgical works funded by the Dominicans in the early days of printing and, in the C16, for exporting to their New World missions. The Dominican liturgy was slightly different to the Roman use, and required customised music, here reproduced in plainchant. The processional features hymns for major liturgical celebrations (Purification, Palm Sunday, Last Supper, Resurrection, Ascension and Assumption), and for sundry occasion (e.g., to welcome new religious and secular authorities, for the sick, the extreme unction, the burial of Dominican friars and children, one for ‘time of war against the enemies of the faith’), and a ‘liber generationis’ (book of the genealogy of Christ). Another such processional was printed in Venice in the same year, for the Dominicans of the Lombard congregation; it was however not as lavish as its Seville counterpart, either in format or aesthetics. ‘The Seville processional inaugurates a printing custom observed in nearly all later Andalusian musical imprints: bar-lining of the words. The double-bar line in this processional indicates a shift from cantor to chorus’ (Stevenson, ‘Spanish Music’, 104-5).

This copy bears a curious, unrelated brief note to the last leaf. It records a sale of land from Anton Vasques and Elvyra de Aldana—whom we have not been able to trace—to the noble gentleman Diego de Merlo. This was probably the famous Castilian captain, counsellor and general of the King, who died in 1482. It probably concerned land surrounding the convent where this book was preserved.

Three copies recorded in the US. Apparently not at Hispanic Society of America.

“Existe en las Bibliotecas Nacional de Madrid, Nacional de Paris y Museo Británico” Palau XIV 238143. ISTC ip00997000; Goff P997; HC 13380*; BMC X 39; GW M35537. Stillwell P912; Goff P-997; Haebler, Bib. Iberica, 557; Vindel, El arte típografico, V, 67; Vindel, Manual grafíco, 2284. R. Stevenson, Spanish Music in the Age of Columbus (The Hague, 1960).


Print This Item Print This Item