Lute music anthologies at risk of leaving UK

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Lute music anthologies at risk of leaving UK
Worth over £200,000, the manuscript is described as one of the most extensive and important sources of lute music of the early 17th century.

LONDON.- An early 17th century manuscript of Italian and French lute music is at risk of leaving the country unless a UK buyer can be found.

Worth over £200,000, the manuscript is described as one of the most extensive and important sources of lute music of the early 17th century, containing 89 unidentified pieces that had never been seen before.

Instrumental music was hugely popular during the period with many in the middle class keen to enjoy musical performances. Creating anthologies was a valuable way to preserve and share music by composers who didn’t have enough pieces to publish volumes of their own.

The rich and cosmopolitan anthology will contribute to people’s understanding of how cultures flourished across national boundaries, despite the hardships and restrictions of the Thirty Years War.

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: Lute music is a vital part of our artistic heritage and there is much this anthology can teach us.

This fascinating manuscript could be described as a 17th century streaming platform thanks to its ability to allow music by brilliant composers to be shared across Europe.

I hope a buyer comes forward to save the piece for the nation.

The Minister’s decision follows the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (the Committee). The committee agreed the manuscript was vital to understanding how music spread throughout Europe during the 17th century, as well as how it was produced and replicated.

Committee Member Peter Barber said: Little research has recently been done into this large and handsomely bound manuscript album of early lute music. Fascinating and evocative, it includes work, among many others, both by the English composer John Dowland and by a brother of Galileo. The volume promises to shed much light on the circulation of music, particularly lute music, the role of music-making, and the dance, in western Europe while the Thirty Years War was raging in the early and mid-seventeenth century. One third of the music, amounting to 89 pieces, is not to be found anywhere else. Thoroughly pan-European, the volume was assembled by a German, mainly written out in the French style and contains music from many lands.

The volume also has research value because of its association with the musical instrument-maker Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940). Dolmetsch was the leading figure associated with the early twentieth-century revival of the performance of early music using instruments of the time. The album formed part of the collection that he assembled and his annotations suggest that he particularly valued it. Dolmetsch lived most of his life in, and was particularly associated with, England, where the largest remaining part of his music collection is still to be found. The album’s research value might therefore be more fully exploited, if it were to remain in the United Kingdom.

The Committee made its recommendation on the grounds the manuscript’s departure from the UK would be a misfortune because it is of outstanding significance for the study of 17th century lute music.

The decision on the export licence application for the manuscript will be deferred until 13 June 2022 inclusive. At the end of the first deferral period owners will have a consideration period of 15 business days to consider any offer(s) to purchase the manuscript at the recommended price of £214,200. The second deferral period will commence following the signing of an Option Agreement and will last for three months.

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