Liturgical Music Incunabula: A Descriptive Catalogue

Liturgical Music Incunabula: A Descriptive Catalogue

Liturgical Music Incunabula: A Descriptive Catalogue

Liturgical Music Incunabula: A Descriptive Catalogue

Excerpt

This catalogue of liturgical incunabula is the result of studies that go back to 1935. My interest in the subject began in the course of a visit of two professors to the Paul Hirsch Library at Frankfurt-am-Main. A Missale Wormatiense, printed by Wenssler at Basle, was out on an old lectern at the time. The missal had been dated, by an expert book dealer, 1488. The two professors, who were specialists in medieval music, but not experts in music printing, stated that the book had been printed much earlier.

My suspicions were aroused, however, and I set out to compare all Wenssler editions in German libraries, and to study the related documents. I found that the book dealer was right, and that Wenssler had printed music only in the one year 1488.

While working on Wenssler, I discovered that in most incunabula catalogues the manner of printing music was completely ignored, and I decided to fill the gap. I elaborated a method, and started with the books listed in the British Museum catalogue of incunabula printed in Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. My first descriptive list was published in The Library December 1939. From 1938 to 1940 I investigated the four great libraries in Paris, and found a rich treasure of books, many of them printed in France, which had hitherto not been known to contain printed music. The Bibliothèque Nationale agreed to print my list of these books. Unfortunately the war interrupted these plans,, the head of the Bibliothèque Nationale being interned and my family leaving Europe for the United States. The French list was translated into English and was accepted for publication by the Bibliographical Society.

After the end of the war, the Secretary of the Society suggested that the two lists — the British Museum and the Paris lists — might be printed together as a single work. I felt that for publication as a book the survey should be enlarged, and items in the great libraries of Oxford and Cambridge, as well as those in American libraries, should be included. This project would not have been possible without the financial help of two organizations. The International Association of University Women granted me the Mary E. Woolley fellowship for my trip to Europe, and the American Council of Learned Societies granted me the means to complete my research in America by a trip to the South-West, to Austin, Texas, and to the West, to the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California. It has thus been possible to describe books in the following libraries: Bibliothèque Nationale, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Bibliothèque Mazarine, and Bibliothèque Ste-Geneviève in Paris, the British Museum, the Bodleian Library, the Cambridge University Library, and American libraries.

The survey would have been more complete had I included all French and all English libraries. The chief reason that led me to postpone this task to a later date was that there are no complete printed surveys of incunabula in England or in France.

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