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The Original Partbooks of Cozzolani’s Salmi a Otto voci

The blog has been quiet in the past month as I took some time away in Europe. While there I had one particularly meaningful experience I wanted to share.

The Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale in Bologna is like mecca for scholars of 17th century music. It houses the collection of the renowned 18th century composer, teacher and scholar Giovanni Battista Martini, known as ‘Padre Martini’. Most of his massive collection of music prints (estimated by Dr. Burney at over 17,000 volumes) was donated to the Civico Museo on his death.

Of special interest to me was of course the original partbooks of Cozzolani’s 1650 collection Salmi a Otto Voci Concertati, a complete recording of which Magnificat recently released. While I have become intimately familiar with facsimiles of these partbooks, I have never had the opportunity to actually handle them, but thanks to the kind assistance of librarian Alfredo Vitolo, I was able to do so.

I was struck anew by the small format of 17th century prints – paper was expensive! As the photo shows the stack of nine partbooks was very compact indeed. The photo of the title page of the Canto Primo partbook shows the red lettering lost in scans and microfilms.

While at the Civico Meseo I also had the opportunity to examine first prints of publications by Isabella Leonarda and Barbara Strozzi as well as Orazio Vecchi’s L’Amfiparnaso – all music that Magnificat will perform in the coming season.

I also viewed the sole surviving partbook from Cozzolani’s collection of solo motets Scherzi di sacra melodia (1648). Over the past decade, Magnificat has supplied basso continuo parts for five of these motets for performance.

More photos of the partbaook for both the 1648 and 1650 collection can be viewed in the photo gallery.

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  1. Helen Barrios
    July 12th, 2010 at 16:10 | #1

    Wow! You must have truly felt yourself in the presence of genius!

  2. Ruth Escher
    July 13th, 2010 at 19:58 | #2

    fantastic :)

  3. Gil Cline
    July 15th, 2010 at 11:24 | #3

    Bravo, Warren! Thanks for sharing the experience; all of us treasure opportunities to “lay hands on” the real deal, including old print music sources and old instruments — important connections +

  4. July 16th, 2010 at 15:50 | #4

    Thanks all – it was a thrill. Only sorry I couldn’t spend more time at the library – but I’ll be back!

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