e Biblioteca della Musica, Bologna
Winner of the 2009 Claude V.
Award givien by the
"an exemplar of regal musicology, a career-
crownning achievement that will forever
set a benchmark for facsimile editions"
| || ||This
manuscript is the largest international anthology of polyphonic music
of the early 15th century. It was compiled in the Veneto, in Padua in
the early 1420s (stage I) and Vicenza in the early 1430s (stages
II-III), all copied by a single scribe between 1420 and 1435. The three
illuminations are an unusual luxury for a musical manuscript at this
period. It was acquired by Padre Martini in 1757 and is one of the
great treasures of his library in Bologna.|
About half of its 323 compositions are unique; some others are shared
with and complemented by the slightly younger Veneto manuscripts
Bologna, Biblioteca Universitaria 2216 and Oxford, Canon. misc. 213. It
is the most important source for the works of Zacara and Ciconia and
for the early works of Guillaume Du Fay (with 78 works, nearly a
quarter of the manuscript, many of them unica). About 50 composers are
represented, including native Italians, and composers from the north
who were sought after and made their careers in Italy.
primarily a collection of mass movements (mostly Glorias and Credos,
and a few cycles) and motets. Du Fay's
Missa Sancti Jacobi
a cycle only here, and can now be linked with the circle
in which Q15 was compiled.
motets include compositions in
honour of Gianfrancesco Gonzaga, the Venetian doges Steno, Mocenigo and
Foscari, the prelates Stefano Carrara, Albano Michiel, Pietro Marcello,
Francesco Malipiero, Francesco Zabarella, Antonio Correr, Giovanni
Contarini; the Dominicans and Leonardo Dati; Pandolfo Malatesta da
Pesaro, Cleofe Malatesta; Eugenius IV, Eugenius and the Emperor
Sigismund. 19 French songs were added at the end of stage I, and 11
laude at stage III. Other late additions are the cycle of 24 hymns
(including the earliest form of Du Fay's cycle), 9 Magnificats and 3
Despite the predominantly sacred contents, the manuscript seems to have
been used at least as much for pious recreation as for liturgical
observance. It can be associated with the humanist circle around the
Venetian patrician bishop Pietro Emiliani of Vicenza, which drew on a
high level of local musical competence that was continued under his
successor, bishop Franceso Malipiero.
For the first time, the complex codicological history of this
manuscript is unravelled and the importance of its many revisions
examined. The first compilation was originally much larger, as can be
attested by earlier foliations and over 90 capital letters cut from it,
to be pasted into the later form of the book that we now have.
Fragments of music on the backs of these letters attest an earlier
dating for compositions only known from later copies, sometimes in
different versions. About 200 folios were discarded, and replaced by
new repertory and by pieces recopied from the older book. The
manuscript thus now embodies two overlapping, superimposed anthologies,
with a third of their physical material in common, and perhaps half
their repertory. Far-reaching conclusions can be drawn about the
scribe's changing tastes at all levels, from repertorial to notational.
He discarded some motets, but retained the verbal texts of occasional
pieces for dead doges and bishops, while updating them musically.
Inferences about what he rejected, and what and how he recopied or
changed, bear upon future repertorial study in general, and the
evaluation of, for example, contratenor parts and the pairing of Gloria
and Credo movements in particular. These findings are especially
important for Du Fay, to whose new work the compiler seems to have had
prompt access over a long period.
Margaret Bent tells this story in her extensive introductory study,
which also includes comprehensive indexes and catalogues. She spells
out some of the conclusions to be drawn from the partial destruction of
the manuscript by its own creator, a unique and extraordinary testimony
to changing taste and contemporary reception.
Deluxe limited edition consisting of introductory study (400 pp) and
facsimile (686 pp), supplied with slipcase. $1450
n.b.: The author has kindly provided a downloadable addenda/corrigenda
Q15: The Making and Remaking of a Musical Manuscript.
Study and Facsimile Edition by Margaret Bent.
I: Introductory Study. Volume II: Facsimile.
Lucca, 2008. Ars
Nova, nuova seria, 2. format: 24.5 x 32.5 cm.
2 vols, 400, 686 pp.
volumes from this publisher)
OMI - Old Manuscripts & Incunabula • PO Box 6019 FDR
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