Music, Authorship, and the Book in the First Century of Print

By Kate Van Orden | Go to book overview

3. Authors of Lyric

“The king has a greater desire to have you than ever,” wrote Adrian Le Roy to Orlande de Lassus in 1574.1 Beginning in 1570, Le Roy had made something of an industry publishing Lassus’s chansons in France, and he surely would have been delighted had Lassus accepted the royal invitation; indeed, he may even have solicited it—he was the one who presented Lassus’s “musique cromatique” to King Charles IX, music that ravished the young monarch beyond words and prompted the offer of employment. Charles even ordered Le Roy to print the music, “so that it would not be lost,” and accorded to Lassus the extraordinary “author’s privilege” he received in 1571.2

The “chromatic music” that intensified the king’s desire to have Lassus for his own was probably from the Prophetiae Sibyllarum, and in the end, not only did Lassus refuse Charles’s invitation to make a permanent move to France, the music remained withheld from publication as well, despite the king’s commandment to print it. For the Prophetiae Sibyllarum belonged to Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria, to whom Lassus had made a gift of them sometime around 1560. The set of four partbooks now in Vienna (Österreichisches Nationalbibliothek Ms. Mus. 18744) were prepared under Lassus’s supervision, and each includes a portrait of the composer and miniatures of the twelve sibyls painted by Hans Mielich.3 This private repertory was never printed in Lassus’s lifetime, appearing only posthumously in 1600.4 It is a favorite example of “musica reservata” or “reserved music,” a term used inconsistently in the sixteenth century but one strongly associated with text expression and chromaticism and specifically with Lassus’s own works. Samuel Quickelberg, Lassus’s first biographer and a familiar at the court in Munich, famously described the composer’s Seven Penitential Psalms in swooning language, so affecting was the

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Music, Authorship, and the Book in the First Century of Print
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The World of Books 19
  • 2 - Music Books and Their Authors 30
  • 3 - Authors of Lyric 69
  • 4 - The Book of Poetry Becomes a Book of Music 103
  • 5 - Resisting the Press- Performance 143
  • Notes 159
  • Select Bibliography 207
  • Index 233
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