Friday, February 14, 2014

Cortot Collection Additions

UK Music Librarian Paula Hickner reports that UK Libraries acquired two important books on music, which are now part of the Cortot Collection in Special Collections.

The Cortot Collection is a rich source of early theoretical works on music which is studied by the School of Music’s faculty and graduate students.  It has also been the focus of the graduate course offering on the history of music theory pedagogy. The finding aid can be accessed here:
Alfred Cortot (1877-1962) was a pianist, teacher, conductor, and collector of rare books on music. Cortot’s collection of early books on music was one of the most impressive private collections amassed during the first half of the 20th century. At his death the majority of his collection was purchased by four institutions: the British Library, London (scores); the University of California, Berkeley (scores, libretti); the Newberry Library, Chicago (scores, treatises); and the University of Kentucky (treatises).

The University of Kentucky holds the largest share of the original collection—nearly 400 volumes. Special Collections has made a commitment to support this collection and over the years, since the original purchase in 1966, has been able to add single volumes as they have become available on the market.

The first item, Traité de la Viole […] (Paris: Christophe Ballard, 1687) by Jean Rousseau (1644-1699), French musician and composer, was added in early October, 2013. Rousseau was a musician, theorist, and composer who had studied for a brief time with the renowned French viol player and teacher, Sainte-Columbe (fl. 1658-1687) to whom he dedicated this work. In Traité de la Viole, Rousseau defends Sainte-Columbe’s teachings, gives a history of the viol in France, and provides information on
construction of viols.
The very rare, Rerum musicorum opusculum rarum ac insigne […] (Strasbourg: Peter Schöffer & Mathias Apiarius, 1535), by Johannes Frosch (ca. 1470-after 1532) was also acquired. Since World War II only two copies of this work have been offered at auction.

Rerum musicorum opusculum rarum ac insigne is a theoretical work on music, which discusses Greek music and the ancient writers Aristotle, Plutarch, and Pliny. According to Grove Online, it is a valuable source for the parody technique of composition as practiced in the 16th century. The books’ printer, Peter Schoeffer (The Younger), was the son of Peter Schoeffer, who worked with Johannes Gutenberg. Later binding of this beautifully produced book incorporates part of a medieval music manuscript on vellum.

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