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Ayres and arias: A hitherto unknown seventeenth-century English songbook*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2008

H. Diack Johnstone
University of Oxford


Most mid-seventeenth-century English songbooks are, as one might perhaps expect, concerned almost entirely with native repertoire. Though there was, it seems, a certain amount of Italian (and some French) solo vocal music available, it appears to have circulated mainly in imported prints and in manuscripts copied by a variety of foreign scribes. Among the very few sources in which both ayres and arias are combined by an English copyist (as yet unidentified) is an interesting little anthology of 63 pages dating from the early 1660s which, to the best of my knowledge, has never yet been described in print. Formerly in the Prussian State Library in Berlin, it is now in the Jagiellonian Library in Kraków, where it is bound up with a copy of Henry Lawes's third book of Ayres and Dialogues published by Playford in 1658 (Day & Murrie 11). Also included under cover of the same press-mark (Mus.ant.pract. P 970) are copies of Playford's Select Ayres and Dialogues For One, Two, and Three Voyces; to the Theorbo-Lute or Basse-Viol (1659; Day & Murrie 14) and the second (1655) book of Lawes's Ayres and Dialogues (Day & Murrie 8). Pasted on the verso of the title-page of the first of these is the beautifully engraved bookplate of ‘Charles Barlow Esq; of Emanuel Colledge, Cambridge’ (whose signature, together with the name of his college, also appears on the title-page itself).

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1997

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1 Of Barlow himself we know only that he was admitted a fellow-commoner of Emmanuel in April 1733 (see Venn, J. and Venn, J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, 4 vols. (Cambridge, 19221927), i, p. 89)Google Scholar. A list of the Jagiellonian's holdings of late-seventeenth-century English songbooks is included as Appendix B below.

I am grateful to Dr Helmut Hell of the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, who kindly informs me that the manuscript was purchased by the Prussian State Library in 1913 from the well-known Berlin antiquarian book dealer Leo Liepmannssohn. Prior to that, it must almost certainly have been owned by the English collector James E. Matthew, whose entire musical library of some 5,000 items was acquired by Liepmannssohn in 1907 (see King, A. Hyatt, Some British Collectors of Music (Cambridge, 1963), pp. 71 and 148Google Scholar); there is, however, no mention of the manuscript in the c. 1905 typescript catalogue of the Matthew collection (British Library, Hirsch 463), only the first of the three Playford volumes which now make up Mus.ant.pract. P 970.

2 The song was first published in Playford's Select Musicall Ayres and Dialogues (1653; Day & Murrie 6, p. 31). On p. 6 of the 1659 volume – the first of the three now bound up as Mus.ant.pract. P 970 – the piece is headed ‘On his Loves Absence’ and is set for solo voice with basso continuo accompaniment. The manuscript version (p. 89), on the other hand, is clearly for two voices, as also is the version included in The Musical Companion (1673; Day & Murrie 36, p. 94). These same words were later set by Brown, Richard (Vinculum Societatis, 1687; Day & Murrie 95, p. 20)Google Scholar, and eventually printed by the author, Charles Cotton, in his Poems on Several Occasions (1689). In Forbes's, JohnCantus, Songs and Fancies, to Three, Four, or Five Parts, 3rd edn (Aberdeen, 1682; Day & Murrie 58)Google Scholar, they are adapted to music by Gastoldi.

3 This has some affinity with the hand of Edward Lowe, Professor of Music at Oxford from 1662 until his death in 1682, whose normal treble clef is seemingly compounded of a large figure 6 and superscript delta (δ). But the copyist of the Kraków MS is definitely not Lowe, or any one of the other scribes associated with this particular repertoire. For a representative selection of contemporary hands, see the facsimile series of twenty-six MSS edited by Elise Bickford Jorgens in 12 volumes published by Garland (New York and London, 1986–1989) under the title English Song 1600–1675.

4 Though Edward Lowe can be ruled out as the copyist of the Kraków MS, it is worth noting perhaps that he too sometimes added extra parts to songs which were already complete without them (see, for example, his copy of Roger Hill's setting of ‘The thirsty earth drinks up the rain’ in British Library, Add. MS 29396, fol. 99v). As it happens, there is another quite different setting of these same words (by Sylvanus Taylor) in the Kraków MS (pp. 42–3).

5 See Heawood, E., Watermarks mainly of the 17th and 18th Centuries (Hilversum, 1950), especially nos. 424–8Google Scholar, and Churchill, W. A., Watermarks … in the XVII and XVIII centuries and Their Interconnection (Amsterdam, 1935), no. 5Google Scholar.

6 As we shall presently see, there is evidence to suggest that copying went on until 1667 at least, but probably not much after that date.

7 Musical incipits of all the anonymous items are included in the complete list of contents given as Appendix A below.

8 ‘Monteverdi and the Seconda Prattica’, The Monteverdi Companion, ed. Arnold, D. and Fortune, N. (London, 1968), p. 202Google Scholar.

9 I am of course assuming that the text of the 1623 edition is identical with that of 1622 and the original 1619 print, neither of which was readily available to me for purposes of comparison.

10 I am indebted to Dr Jonathan Wainwright for drawing this point to my attention.

11 Nineteen of these are listed by Jones, Andrew in the second volume of his The Motets of Carissimi (Ann Arbor, 1982), pp. 62–3Google Scholar; the other two have been communicated to me privately by Dr Wainwright. Three are in France, the rest (oddly enough) in Britain, and nearly all are, like the Kraków copy, set for bass voice and continuo only; those that aren't are arrangements for soprano and continuo.

12 The latter (Pepys MS 2591) was copied by Cesare Morelli, who, as a member of Pepys's household from 1675 to 1682, taught him the guitar and kept him supplied with Italian songs. As arranged by Morelli, the ‘Lamento di Gionata’ is set over a simple intabulated guitar accompaniment which Pepys (a bass) would presumably have played as he sang; it is also 80 bars shorter than the version given in the Kraków MS and must have been copied at very much the same time. I am grateful to Dr Richard Luckett, the Pepys Librarian, for supplying a copy. The Lüneburg copy (D-Lr K.N. 146) has been very kindly drawn to my attention by Professor Margaret Murata. The only other source (I-Rvat Barb. 4136, fols. 139–52v) is reproduced in facsimile in the Garland series The Italian Cantata in the Seventeenth Century, ed. Gianturco, Carolyn (New York, 1986), ii, pp. 3342Google Scholar. For a detailed account of Pepys's musical interests and accomplishments, see Luckett's, essay on music in the ‘Companion’ to The Diary of Samuel Pepys, ed. Latham, R. C. and Matthews, W., 11 vols. (London, 19701983), x, pp. 258–82Google Scholar.

13 Information from Dr Jonathan Wainwright. See also Caluori, E., The Cantatas of Luigi Rossi (Ann Arbor, 1981), ii, no. 375Google Scholar (Cantatas Attributed to Luigi Rossi on Unreliable Grounds). The Christ Church copy contains a number of significant variants, not least a second verse which is missing in the Kraków MS.

14 Cantatas of Luigi Rossi, ii, no. 141. I am indebted to Professor Margaret Murata for drawing this reference to my attention.

15 For a full list of sources, see Caluori, , Cantatas of Luigi Rossi, ii, no. 379Google Scholar. The words are evidently by Salvator Rosa, and the music of the triple-time refrain (here marked ‘Intercalare’ on the first two of its three appearances) is also used in Cesti's opera Alessandro vincitor di se stesso (1651).

16 The first part of the song also survives in Christ Church MS 17, fol. 20v, in the hand of Henry Aldrich, whose original ascription of the piece to ‘Sgre Pietro Reggio’ was subsequently cancelled.

17 The system used is that of Thomas Shelton in his Tachygraphy, which came out in numerous editions from 1635 onwards, having been first published as Short-writing in [1626], I am greatly indebted to Ms Frances Henderson of Worcester College, Oxford, not only for deciphering the two bits of shorthand used in the manuscript, but also for her comments on its relationship to that of Pepys.

18 The suggestion that my initial ‘Sr Angelo’ was more likely in fact to be ‘Dr Ingelo’ I owe to Professor Ian Spink of Royal Holloway College.

19 For further details of Ingelo's career, see the Dictionary of National Biography; for Vincenzo Albrici, see The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London, 1980)Google Scholar, and Mabbett, M., ‘Italian Musicians in Restoration England (1660–90)’, Music & Letters, 67 (1986), pp. 237–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On Ingelo's connection with Benjamin Rogers, see Rastall, R., ‘Benjamin Rogers (1614–98): Some Notes on His Instrumental Music’, Music & Letters, 46 (1965), pp. 237–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar; also Ashbee, A., ‘A Not Un-apt Scholar: Bulstrode Whitelocke (1605–1675)’, Chelys, 11 (1982), pp. 2431, p. 29 in particularGoogle Scholar. The Swedish connection is further explored in Webber, G., ‘Italian Music at the Court of Queen Christina: Christ Church, Oxford, Mus. MS 377 and the Visit of Vincenzo Albrici's Italian Ensemble, 1652–54’, Svensk Tidskrift för Musikforskning, 75 (1994), pp. 4753Google Scholar – this last reference by courtesy of Professor Lowell Lindgren.

20 If the present tense in the heading is significant, then these pages must have been copied before Cooke died (on 13 July 1672).

21 Perhaps the most flattering comment appears under date of 27 July 1661, where Cooke is said to have what is ‘without doubt …the best manner of singing in the world’. See The Diary of Samuel Pepys, ii, p. 142Google Scholar. According to John Evelyn, writing on 28 October 1654, he was ‘esteem'd the best singer after the Italian manner of any in England’ (Diary, ed. de Beer, E. S., 6 vols. (London, 1955), iii, p. 144Google Scholar), while Playford, in his gloss upon ‘A Brief Discourse of, and Directions for Singing after the Italian manner’ added to the fourth (1664) edition of his Brief Introduction to the Skill of Musick (p. 76), calls him ‘that Orpheus of our time’.

22 This shows only the first half of the song; the textual variants in the second half are very much the same. Punctuation here (as also in Examples 2–4) is partly editorial.

23 See Curtis, A., ‘La Poppea Impasticciata or, Who Wrote the Music to L'Incoronazione (1643)?’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 42 (1989), pp. 2354CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and the preface to Curtis's edition of the opera, published by Novello in London later that same year.

24 This further source and the attribution to Luchese were very kindly drawn to my attention by Professor Margaret Murata, who also points out that the same piece is likewise to be found in Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Rés. Vmc. MS 77, an English anthology which was formerly part of the Geneviève Thibault collection and which belonged to a certain ‘Baron Roper’ at the very beginning of the eighteenth century. Baron Roper is presumably Henry Roper (c. 1676–1723), 8th Baron Teynham, whose Roman Catholic father, the 5th Baron, fled to the Continent after the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’ in 1688. Mme Catherine Massip, Director of Special Collections in the Department of Music at the Bibliothèque Nationale, kindly informs me in connection with this manuscript - the song is there a tone higher (in A) - that Mme de Chambure has noted yet another anonymous concordance in Schwerin, MS 4718b.

25 I am grateful to M. Jean Lionnet of the Centre de Musique Baroque in Versailles (which is currently preparing a catalogue of all Dumont's works) for confirming my own view of the piece as a most improbable example of that composer's work.

26 Again, I am indebted to Professor Margaret Murata for pointing this out. As given in the Chigi MS (see Eisley, I. R., The Wellesley Edition Cantata Index Series, ii (Wellesley, Mass., 1964)Google Scholar), the piece is a tone higher (in D); though there are obvious melodic variants, structurally the two would appear to be identical. Curiously, another Savioni cantata (‘Arme a la mano’) also appears in Add. MS 14336 (fol. 2) in an arrangement for SSB and continuo which in the British Library catalogue is likewise attributed to Dumont.

27 Again, only the first half of the song is shown here. I am grateful to Dr Mario Armellini of the Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale in Bologna for supplying a photocopy of pp. 56–7 of the volume in which the song is to be found; though the work was advertised in Robert Martin's 1639 and 1640 London book catalogues (see Krummel, D. W., ‘Venetian Baroque Music in a London Bookshop: The Robert Martin Catalogues, 1633–50’, Music and Bibliography: Essays in Honour of Alec Hyatt King, ed. Neighbour, O. (London, 1980), p. 24)Google Scholar, I-Bc (BB.293) is now the only known copy. The fact that there is still a copy of Part 2 in the library of Christ Church, Oxford (Mus. 448), might suggest that there once was an English copy of the Parte Prima also and, if so, that it was most likely to have been acquired from Martin by Christopher Hatton (for whom see Wainwright, J. P., ‘The Musical Patronage of Christopher, First Baron Hatton (1605–1670)’, Ph.D. thesis, University of Cambridge, 1993, i, Appendix IIIGoogle Scholar).

28 See n. 1 above. Three of these lour Italian songs, ‘Vittoria o mio core’, ‘Con bel sigillo di segretezza’ and ‘Fuggi da lieti amanti’, had in fact been published six years earlier in Playford's Select Musicall Ayres and Dialogues (Day & Murrie 4 and 6).

29 See The New Grove Dictionary, s.v. ‘Reggio, Pietro’; also Mabbett, ‘Italian Musicians in Restoration England’. As we have seen, the volume of Italian songs copied by Reggio for one ‘Monsieur Didie’ in London in 1681 (British Library, MS Harley 1501) provides concordances for Cesti's ‘Sensi voi’ and Vincenzo Albrici's ‘Vo cercando’.

30 The ‘Brief Discourse of, and Directions for Singing after the Italian manner’ referred to here was included for the first time in the 1664 edition and, in English translation, was simply taken over (without acknowledgement) from Caccini. Playford, in glossing it, claims that the several graces mentioned were nothing new but had been ‘used … by most of the Gentlemen of His Majesties Chappel’, and especially Cooke, for the last forty years and more. According to Pepys (Diary, viii, p. 59Google Scholar), Cooke had a ‘strange mastery … in making of extraordinary surprizing closes, that are mighty pretty’.

31 The composer's name, as given on p. 63, is in a much later hand. The words of verses 2 and 3, written out between the separate treble and bass parts on p. 6, are omitted on p. 63. Modern edition (with list of sources) in English Songs 1625–1660, Musica Britannica 33, ed. Spink, I. (1977)Google Scholar, item 104 (which includes not only a plain but also an heavily embellished version of the song); see also Spink, , English Song, Dowland to Purcell (London, 1974), pp. 121–2Google Scholar.

32 See Brown, J. D. and Stratton, S. S., British Musical Biography (Birmingham, 1897), p. 407Google Scholar. There is another edition of the same piece, but with significant textual differences and the attribution to ‘Capt. Syl. Taylor’, in Playford's, The Musical Companion (1673; Day & Murrie 36)Google Scholar. The words, first published by Cowley in his Anacreontiques (1656), were also set by Henry Bowman (see British Library, Add. MS 30382) and by Roger Hill (see The Treasury of Musick, Book ii (1669), pp. 94–5Google Scholar), and it was to the Hill setting that Edward Lowe in 1677 added a second (treble) part (see British Library, Add. MS 29396, cited in n. 4 above).

33 Modern edition in English Songs 1625–1660, item 43. In the part-song arrangement published by Playford in 1667, item 43 is combined with the separate song (also from Cartwright's Royal Slave) printed ibid, as item 46.

34 See Price, C., Music in the Restoration Theatre (Ann Arbor, 1979), pp. 45 and 258 (n. 85)Google Scholar. A four-voice ayre by John Playford printed in The Musical Companion (1673; Day & Murrie 36) begins ‘When fair Chloris kept her harmless sheep’, and takes over the next three lines as well.

35 Is it possible perhaps – and this is only a guess – that it was intended for some in-house Christmastide entertainment involving the boys of the Chapel Royal?

36 There are examples of his signature in the Archives of St George's Chapel, Windsor, and in the Lord Chamberlain's records at the Public Record Office, but, lacking e's, these are of no real assistance; the various letters and petitions listed by Ashbee, Andrew in his Records of English Court Music, i: 1660–1685 (Snodland, 1986)Google Scholar, are all secretarial copies. It may be, too, that the significance of the shorthand has been somewhat exaggerated, for Dr Robert Thompson (whose knowledge of English musical MSS of this period is second to none) reports that he has seen other MSS, admittedly rather later than this one, in which shorthand symbols have been used (as they are here) ‘more, it seems, as a kind of novelty than for any other reason’ (personal communication).

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