CROFT, William, Daniel PURCELL, Maurice GREENE, et al. A volume of manuscript music for the organ. England, between 1713 and 1730.
Folio (365 × 245 mm), pp. [40]; some offsetting, five leaves loose, a short tear to one leaf; bound with a copy of Sternhold & Hopkins, The whole Book of Psalms, collected into English Metre (London, Richardson and Hodgkin, 1697; Wing B 2603; pp. [6], 52, [6]; printed in three columns; offsetting on the title from the turn-ins); eighteenth-century panelled calf, rubbed, particularly along the joints, sometime rebacked; bookplate of Hugh John McLean (see below), now loose, stain from adhesive to front free endpaper and resultant offset on title of the Psalms; evidence of an earlier bookplate to the front pastedown.
An important manuscript, the only known source for three pieces of early eighteenth-century English organ music, and a sonata for violin and harpsichord. The Greene Voluntary, the earliest of his organ works, is unique and only known from the present manuscript. The manuscript has been owned by three notable music collectors over the past 150 years or so, and its course can be charted through various catalogues and publications. It first appears in the sale of the energetic Victorian musical antiquary, Edward Francis Rimbault (1816–1876), whose ‘large library was sold, after his death, at Sothebys for nearly £2000’ (Oxford DNB), 31 July – 7 August 1877, where the present manuscript was lot 1363. It was bought, for 3/6, by William Hayman Cummings (1831–1915), tenor, organist, and the creator of the carol Hark! the Herald Angels sing, whose own ‘superb library of some 4500 pieces, the last of the great Victorian collections’ (op. cit.) was sold by Sotheby’s across six days in May 1917, but we cannot locate the manuscript in the sale catalogue. It resurfaces in May 1954, as item 112 in A Catalogue of Musical Manuscripts offered by Cecil Hopkinson’s First Edition Bookshop (£5 5s.), where it was bought by the noted Canadian organist and collector, Hugh McLean (1930–2017), ‘the sole manuscript that I own’. It contains organ voluntaries by Croft, Daniel Purcell, Barrett, Greene, an anonymous ‘Sonata a violino solo col cemballo’ (sic), and the organ part for Blow’s anthem ‘I was in the Spirit’. McLean later wrote: ‘The pieces are all in one hand except for the sonata and the anthem, which two other scribes, one of them possibly youthful, have helped to copy. The handwriting and ink suggest that the music was copied out within a reasonably short space of time, and there is evidence that this occurred between the years 1713 and 1730, for William Croft is referred to as Dr, a degree which Oxford awarded him in 1713 and Maurice Greene, who did not take his doctorate at Cambridge until 1730 when he became Professor of Music, is called Mr … ‘The composers named in the manuscript relate to one or the other in an interesting way. John Blow, the eldest (1649–1708), taught Daniel Purcell (c.1665–1717), John Barrett (c.1674–c.1735) and William Croft (1678–1727). Maurice Greene, the youngest (1696–1755), succeeded Purcell as organist of St. Andrew’s, Holborn, and Croft as organist and composer to the Chapel Royal … Concerning the organ pieces, the compiler has unwittingly selected an example from each of the four main styles in vogue before John Reading (1677–1764) and the blind virtuoso John Stanley (1713–1786) established the primacy of the “solo stop” voluntary. Even more important, at least three of the four are unique copies. The voluntary by Maurice Greene is one of these … The sonata for violin and harpsichord is, in McLean’s view, ‘perhaps the most important’ in the manuscript, and has ‘considerable musical interest … Internal evidence, rhythmic interplay between treble and bass … suggests (despite the Italian title) an English origin’ (McLean, ‘Caritas domi incipit: an early 18th-century organ book’, Studies in Music from the University of Western Ontario 2, 1977, pp. 53, 62).
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