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Berliner Lautentabulaturen in Krakau: Beschreibender Katalog der handschriftlichen Tabulaturen fur Laute und verwandte Instrumente in der Biblioteka Jagiellonska Krakow aus dem Besitz der ehemaligen Preussischen Staatsbibliothek Berlin.

Berliner Lautentabulaturen in Krakau is a description and inventory of twenty-seven manuscript tablatures for lute and related instruments that were part of the once magnificent collection of the Prussian State Library in Berlin. The story of how almost the entire rare holdings of this library disappeared after being moved from Berlin for protection against Allied air strikes, to emerge forty years later at the Jagiellonian Library in Cracow, Poland, is probably familiar to most scholars and need not be retold here (see, e.g., P.J. P. Whitehead, "The Lost Berlin Manuscripts," Notes 33 [1976]: 7-15, and "The Berlin Manucripts Recovered," Notes 36 [1980]: 773-76, neither of which is cited in this book). In his RISM volume Handschriftlich uberlieferte Lauten- und Gitarrentabulaturen des 15. bis 18. Jahrhunderts (series B, 7) (Munich: Henle, 1978) Wolfgang Boetticher fisted the Berlin manuscripts as "verschollen," though he did provide descriptions of them, albeit without inventories, based on the on-site examination of the manuscripts he made in Berlin around 1938. Even from Boetticher's external descriptions, when coupled with older studies by Johannes Wolf (Handbuch der Notationskunde, vol. 2 [Leipzig: Breitkopf & Hartel, 1919]), Helmuth Osthoff (Der Lautenist Santino Garsi da Parma [Leipzig: Breitkopf & Hartel, 1926; reprinted Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Hartel, 1973]), and information from the Wilhelm Tappert and Wilhelm Heyer Nachla[Beta]e (for Heyer's collection see Georg Kinsky, Musikhistorisches Museum von Wilhelm Heyer in Coln, vol. 4 [Leipzig: Breitkopf & Hartel, 1916]), it was obvious that the Berlin collection included not only tablatures of central importance in the history of lute music (such as Mus. ms. 40032, 40153, 40598, and 40620) but also ones that add significantly to the smaller repertories of the mandora, cittern, "Hamburger Cithrinchen," and the baroque guitar. Thus, the "rediscovery" of these manuscripts at the Jagiellonian should help to fill at least some of the long-standing lacunae that continue to exist in our knowledge of the history of European lute music.

The strength of the Cracow manuscripts as a whole lies more specifically in the extraordinary diversity of their source types and geographical origins. Compared to the stylistically focused and regionally singular lute collections of the Cambridge University Library or the Bavarian State library in Munich, for example, the chronological breadth of the collection extends from the mid-sixteenth (Mus. ms. 40154) to the late eighteenth century (Mus. ms. 40150), and all of the main varieties of tablature notation -- French, Italian, German, and guitar alfabeto -- are represented among the sources. The instruments and tunings required by the individual works in the corpus reveal the lute's evolution over time, ranging from 6- and 7-course short-necked lutes, 13-course archlute, and 11-course theorbo in old or "Renaissance") tuning, to 11- and 13-course lutes in nouveaux accords. Finally, the origins of the sources and the composers to whom works are attributed represent most of the major schools of lute playing in Europe (with the exception perhaps of the Elizabethans, though Mus. ms. 40641 does contain Stuart music), tracing the arc of the lute's greatest popularity during the Renaissance to its decline in the Classical period. All in all, the Jagiellonian houses one of the most important collections of lute manuscripts in the world. Those who would compile a catalogue of this 2,400-piece repertory have their work cut out for them.

Given their importance and much heralded rediscovery, it is unfortunate that the historical background of the manuscripts is given such short shrift in this catalogue. Those anticipating an illuminating introduction about the different source types encountered in this repertory (professional, amateur, pedagogical), the musical styles represented, and profiles of the manuscripts' users, will be greeted instead by an introduction of only five pages, three of which are devoted to instruments and their tunings. The introduction also gives the impression that it is Kirsch (cited only by the short tide "Kirsch 1984" [p. ix] that remains unexplained in both the key to bibliographical sigla [p. xiv] and in the references at the end of the introduction [p. x]) who was responsible for the "rediscovery" of the Berlin tablatures. In fact, many of us working in the area of lute music had already tracked these manuscripts to the Jagiellonian years before with the assistance of librarians in Berlin, and were receiving microfilms from the Jagiellonian by 1980 (gratis, I should add).

The descriptions and inventories of the twenty-seven manuscripts are presented in the numerical order of their shelfmarks. It would have been more useful to group the manuscripts by certain categories, such as by type of tablature (French, Italian, German), tuning (old tuning, new tunings), approximate date (even by century), or instrument (lute, archlute, theorbo, etc.). As it stands, the player or scholar intent on finding out which of these manuscripts contains French music for 11-course lute in D-minor tuning (a query that one could easily anticipate from both the performer and the musicologist) must first consult the "Besetzungsregister" (p. 414), which indexes the sources by size of instrument and type of notation, and then leaf through the book, manuscript by manuscript, to find more pertinent information about provenance since the 11-course D-minor lute was also played by Germans) that may be buried in the "Remarks" section that appears at the end of each inventory. It is impossible to accelerate this process since the table of contents (p. v) omits listing the individual manuscripts that are described in the book. To find an entry one must flip through around four hundred pages and scan the page headers as they flash by rapidly, which is impractical and annoying.

The manuscript entries in the catalogue each begin with a brief external description of the bindings ("Einband") and the pages or folios themselves ("Inhalt"), which include scribal characteristics, paleographic details, descriptions of watermarks and foliation, enumerations of blank pages, and transcriptions of marginalia. Some of these characteristics are visible in the very clear facsimiles that are given of a page from each manuscript (pp. xvii-xxxiv). But for manuscripts copied by several hands (Mus. ms. 40143) or bound in distinct fascicles representing different chronological layers (Mus. ms. 40591), the provision of only a single page in facsimile becomes little more than cosmetic. Further Bemerkungen are found at the end of the entry -- after the inventory of incipits -- explaining ornament signs and other symbols that appear in the tablature, the instruments used and their tunings, and occasionally a few words about the composers represented and concordances. Some entries include a bibliography because of their prolonged absence, the manuscripts have been the subject of only a few studies). Unfortunately, these are incomplete and the editors ignore writings that should have been known and consulted. To give but one example: descriptions, histories, and incipits of both Mus. ms. 40153 and Mus ms. 40591 appeared four years earlier in my 1989 UCLA dissertation, "The Manuscript Sources of Seventeenth-Century Itahan Lute Music," but neither of the entries to these manuscripts cites this work, despite the new information and concordances it contains about these sources. (A completely revised version of this work has been published by Garland [1995], which contains new entries for both of the Cracow manuscripts just mentioned and includes incipits in both tablature and modem notation.)

Whatever the drawbacks in organization and bibliographic control, they are made up for by the valuable inventory of each manuscript, which gives the title of each piece and its location along with a tablature incipit, usually between two measures (too short) and four measures (minimum in my opinion) in length. An indication by capital letter of the scribe responsible for each piece is found to the right of each incipit. Variations and doubles are provided with incipits as wen. The tablature is readable and accurately engraved, insofar as the editors have chosen not to correct errors in the originals. Some concordances are listed, but no effort was made to search for concordances and cognates throughout the manuscript or printed repertory. The editors were unable to provide an inventory for Mus. ms. 40154 because of its damaged state and incorrect binding, though Christian Meyer has recently proposed a paleographical analysis and scribal reconstruction of this German source in "Un repertoire du luth allemand des annees 1520: Krakow Biblioteka Jagiellonska, Mus. ms. 40154," Fontes Artis Musicae 39 (1992): 331-43. It is, of course, unfortunate that the incipits appear in tablature only. Transcriptions take time and book length is a consideration, but the technology has existed for some years to be able to produce good quality transcriptions from tablature. Although many non-lute-playing scholars read tablature, it is a fact that lute music will never receive the scholarly attention it deserves unless we produce catalogues and editions in transcription as well (and without a dissertation-size preface about transcription methods!) that are accessible to the general musicologist.

The user will find the indexes well planned and accurate. Separate indexes are given to allow searches by instrument and notation (p. 414), by name of composer, whether they are attributed in the manuscript or through a concordance (pp. 415-19), and by tide or first line, which win be, particularly helpful when searching for arrangements of a vocal model.

Berliner Lautentabulaturen in Krahau brings an important repertory of manuscripts under bibliographical control and it will prove to be an indispensable reference work for research in these sources. My main criticism is that the book is directed at lute specialists -- those who are fluent in tablature and who already understand the intricacies of tuning, stringing, and performance -- unfortunately, it does not attempt to make this repertory accessible to the larger field of musicology nor to make connections to parallel instrumental and vocal repertories. These should be the most important tasks of such a catalogue. Nevertheless, all of the music contained in these manuscripts is here in one place, and the presentation of the incipits is excellent. Serious performers and scholars of this repertory win most definitely need to own this volume.
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Author:Coelho, Victor
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1995
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