Academic journal article Current Musicology

A Paper Trail: Missa Jouyssance Vous Donneray, Uncertain Identity, and the National Institutes of Health's "Bathtub Collection"

Academic journal article Current Musicology

A Paper Trail: Missa Jouyssance Vous Donneray, Uncertain Identity, and the National Institutes of Health's "Bathtub Collection"

Article excerpt

In a storeroom of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Library of Medicine's History of Medicine Division are seven gray boxes full of envelopes of yellowed paper scraps. These fragments constitute the little-known "Bathtub Collection." Dr. Dorothy Schullian, a curator at the National Library of Medicine (NLM), discovered the collection during the late 1940s and early 1950s while working on a restoration project for the NLM that was intended to make the library's wealth of medical books available to the public in modern, sturdy bindings. Found stuffed in the bindings of early medical treatises, these fragments were soaked free of centuries-old glue in a bathtub, thus earning their unique name. The hundreds of tiny pieces of paper span almost eight centuries, eight languages, and countless sources, both print and manuscript. Their contents include pages from the Vulgate Bible, personal letters, pamphlets, playing cards, announcements, and music. At present, the fragments are catalogued in file folders according to the bookbinding from which they came. (1)

Little research has been done on the "Bathtub Collection." After examining the bindings, Schullian wrote a paper chronicling their contents that was read at the 1953 meeting of the Bibliographical Society of America and subsequently published. In 1997, Dr. Walton Schalick III submitted a similar article to the American Historical Association suggesting that more work be done on this remarkable collection, both in preservation and research. In response to Schalick's article, the NIH hired a preservation intern, Sandra Provenzano, for four months to re-package the fragments in more archive-friendly envelopes and boxes (Waring 2002).

Carol Clausen, current curator at the NLM, then wrote a detailed report focusing on four manuscript pages of music taken from the binding of Giovanni Andrea della Croce's Chirurgiae Ioannis Andreae a Cruce, Veneti medici libri septem (henceforth Chirurgiae), published in Venice in 1573 (Clausen 2004). (2) The four leaves of manuscript staff paper contain Latin-texted music from Franco-Flemish Masses and motets. These liturgical compositions were usually written for four to six voices overall, but they often included duo or trio sections. The manuscript contains only these bicinia, or sections of music for two voices. Each sheet of manuscript paper is divided in half horizontally, with the music facing the top of the page on one half and the bottom on the other, indicating that the pages were intended to be cut and bound as a partbook. Over the centuries, the paper has been marked, cut, torn, and chewed. Most of the surviving notation is still legible, but large pieces are missing from the pages (see figure 1). A roughly two-inch square was neatly cut out of the center of the last sheet of staff paper, on which no music was copied.

All of the selections are numbered, and the names of the composers are written in the margins. The pages include only the two-voice sections of the Credo, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei from Lupus's Missa Hercules dux Ferrariae; the Benedictus from Francesco de Layolle's Missa O salutaris hostia; the Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei from Johannes Sarton's Missa Jouyssance vous donneray; and four motets by Henricus Isaac, as identified by Clausen. (3) Only one of the two voices in each of these sections appears in the "Bathtub Collection" music manuscripts. None of the Masses or motets are present in their entirety or identified by title in the manuscript. In the case of Sarton's Missa Jouyssance vous donneray, the altus part of the Crucifixus and Agnus Dei II and the bassus part of the Et resurrexit and Pleni sunt are copied on one sheet of paper, or two partbook pages. (4) (See the left margin of figure 1 for an attribution to Sarton.) The numbering of the selections indicates that there were evidently fifty-eight musical selections copied in all, but numbers 1-10 and 31-43 are missing from the manuscripts. …

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