Scope and Contents
Formerly part of the Dolmetsch Collection, this manuscript contains some 320 pieces of Italian and French lute music in French tablature, 89 of which are unique to this source. The compositions, by 26 identified composers, date from the transitional period between the stylistic epochs of the Renaissance and Baroque. One composer of particular interest is the lutenist Michelagnolo (or Michelangelo) Galilei (1575-1631), son of the theorist and lutenist Vincenzo Galilei and brother of Galileo Galilei, who worked at Munich Hofkapelle from 1607 onwards, when he entered the service of the Elector of Bavaria, Maximilian I, working at the Munich Hofkapelle. He is the named composer of ten pieces in the volume (on fols. 108v, 109r, 113v-114r, 151v-152v, 195v-196r, 203v-204r, 239v-240r, 280v-281r), and a few others can be assigned to him on the basis of concordances elsewhere. The jewel of the manuscript is perhaps, though, a simplified version of Dowland's "Lachrimae" pavan (fols. 225v-227v), the most popular piece of music in Europe throughout the first half of the 17th century (A further piece by Dowland, his so-called "Pipers Galliard", is found on fols. 92v-93r).
The collection is markedly influenced by the French "style brisé" (the performance convention whereby in many passages the notes of the treble and bass, for instance, were sounded successively, beginning with the bass), and includes a large number of courantes and voltes, the most common dance types of the period. French tablature is employed throughout with the exception of one sarabande (fol. 56v), one courante (fols. 249v-250r) and two other pieces (the courantes on fols. 249ff. and fols. 267vff.), which start in Italian tablature and then revert to French. So-called Renaissance tuning is required throughout, with the exception of a handful of numbers, including nos.315-319, 321 and 322, which employ the "cordes avallées" tuning as found in the "Thesaurus Harmonicus" (1603) of Jean-Baptiste Besard.
285 leaves, oblong 8vo (c.15 x 18.3cm), the watermarks, incompletely described in the literature, including a crown surmounting a double-headed eagle over a shield enclosing the letters MB (?), type-set staves, modern ink foliation to lower outer corners, possibly contemporary Latin inscription to inside cover "Ignavia est iacere ubi possis surgere", early German inscription on free endpaper ("Der Herre Vnnd [?]..."), some later (dealer's?) pencil markings to lower pastedown ("...II 95"), Dolmetsch library stamp and pencil shelfmark ("Dolmetsch Library II B 1") to front pastedown, some modern pencil annotations, including tablature, on fols. 259v-260r, presumably in Arnold Dolmetsch's hand, contemporary blind-stamped German pigskin binding, plausibly by the Federnelkenmeister binder of Cologne (c.1583-1619, EBDB w004758), three concentric roll-tooled leafy borders around a central panel with small corner and centre stamps, two later clasps with plaited straps, [probably Bavaria, c.1620], one leaf before fol. 21 excised, first leaf on a guard and the leading edge strengthened, some worming, some light damp-staining, small marginal tears to fol. 231 and fol. 246 (slightly affecting text of latter), tear to last leaf expertly repaired, spine worn.