Petr Danek's new book.
Clavis Monumentorum Musicorum Regni Bohemiae, Series S (Subsidia), V. Prague, KLP--Koniasch Latin Press 2015.
Czech music historiography certainly cannot boast of regular issuance of books, with the main publications being prevailingly confined to musicological studies in proceedings and specialist magazines, as well as critical or other editions. Recent grant projects, however, aim to aid the publication of research books, and several major music-history works are now being completed.
In light of this situation, all the more significant is Petr Danek's new monograph dedicated to historical music prints in the Czech lands until 1630, enriched with a remarkable catalogue of preserved printed copies dating between 1488 and 1628, which is of great value for further research. The book was published by KLP--Koniasch Latin Press in cooperation with the Association for Central European Cultural Studies and with financial support from the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic. For three decades, the publication's author has been a distinguished, versatile figure of Czech musical culture, working as a musicologist, pedagogue, performer, translator, programme director and manager. Petr Danek has dedicated his scholarly and performance activities to Renaissance music, research into and making accessible new sources. The present book is the fruit of his lifelong interest in music prints of the late-Renaissance period, covering in a lucid catalogue more than 300 separate titles of prints of vocal polyphony, early monody, music theory and instrumental music, preserved at Czech libraries, museums, archives and other institutions. In the previous decades, printed music sources contained in Czech collections were partially processed owing to the RISM (,Repertoire International des Sources Musicales') international project. In the 1960s, they were also mapped by Jaroslav Buzga, Jan Kouba, Eva Mikanova and Tomislav Volek in the Pruvodcepo pramenech k dejinam hudby. Fondy a sbirky ulozenev Cechach (Guide to Music History Sources. Archives and Collections in Bohemia; Prague, 1969). Danek's new, revised catalogue, extended with plenty of new and unique items, is limited to Bohemia, since the Moravian sources have largely been compiled by Theodora Strakova. Such research was no easy task half a century ago, and it is still fraught with pitfalls today, as the collections of historical music prints have been undergoing constant transformation in line with new discoveries owing to the ongoing filing of sources at libraries and the use of new technologies (as well as random discoveries), on the one hand, and, unfortunately, losses and dislocations within property transfers, on the other. Hence, the author has focused both on new searching through and checking the collections of central libraries in Prague (the National Library, the National Museum Library, and the Czech Museum of Music archives) and beyond, including parish, monastery, chateau and private collections. Bearing witness to the demanding nature of such research, and its virtually being never-ending, is the fact that at the present time over 1,100 libraries, book collections and archives are registered in the Czech Republic, with some of them not being accessible.
The core of Petr Danek's book is thus the catalogue of printed music sources preserved in Bohemia, with reference to the RISM and stating of the Czech institutions which maintain the particular prints. A very useful aid for the users--historians and musicians alike--are the location numbers, under which the respective volumes can be retrieved (this data is absent from the RISM).
The catalogue itself is preceded by a preface explaining the criteria of selection and treatment (the list does not include, for instance, hymn-books, psalters and occasional music), the current state of the mapping of collections, the methodology, as well as the reasons why some of the materials could not be explored and incorporated into the catalogue.
A book conceived in this manner would alone be a groundbreaking work, for which Czech musicology has waited for decades, yet the author has even more to offer. In the following chapters, he concentrates in detail on several selected topics relating to Renaissance score reproduction in the Czech lands.
The first chapter focuses on the development of printing vocal polyphony music in Bohemia between 1500 and 1630. The workshop of the most important music printer in Bohemia prior to the Battle of Bila Hora (1620), Jiff Nigrin (Georgius Nigrinus), is the subject of the second chapter (also containing a separate list of his production), which is loosely linked up to by an account of reproductions of music scores by the Rudolfine-era composer and singer Franciscus Sale. For almost 40 years, Prague was the seat of the court of Emperor Rudolf II, therefore it is evident that the prints included in the Czech collections are not merely of Czech provenience (both when it comes to the compositions and printers), but they also contain unique gems, reproductions of works written elsewhere, opuses by the most distinguished musicians of the second half of the 16th century. The next chapter is dedicated to the previously unknown, newly discovered reproduction of Orlando di Lasso's motets dating from 1580. The penultimate chapter centres on the fate of the extensive music library of Vilem and Petr Vok of Rozmberk, while the final one deals with another comprehensive collection of printed sheet music of Czech provenience, which has ended up abroad: this one, unlike the Rozmberk collections, was recently transferred to the USA.
The book is furnished with ample footnotes, a list of the literature used, an index of printers and publishers, an index of composers, musicologists and editors, and an index of persons. A great bonus for the reader is an opulent pictorial supplement: facsimiles of the approximately 120 most beautiful title pages of Renaissance music prints which makes of Petr Danek's book a truly exquisite compendium, providing extremely useful information to musicologists, historians and researchers pertaining to the evolution of printing, as well as musicians. What is more, the publication will indisputably also be an essential guide for librarians and museum staff of both Czech and foreign institutions.
Into the bargain, Petr Danek's specialist book is highly readable, with its profound content and pictorial supplement giving a magisterial account of the music reproductions in the Czech lands in the period of the Renaissance to all lovers of early music, as well as history and literature.
In conclusion, I would like to add that although the publication is written in Czech, it is useful for foreign scholars too, as it offers an extensive resume in English and the majority of the data is accessible in the indexes and bibliography. The summary of music prints and the facsimiles of more than a hundred title pages also make the book intriguing for specialists and connoisseurs who cannot read Czech.
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|Title Annotation:||Historical Prints of Vocal Polyphony, Early Monody, Music Theory and Instrumental Music in the Czech Lands before 1630|
|Author:||Rossi, Michaela Zackova|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2015|
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