Item #296 Music Divine; | Ten poems of the 17th and 18th centuries | in praise and celebration of music. William Rueter.
Music Divine; | Ten poems of the 17th and 18th centuries | in praise and celebration of music
Music Divine; | Ten poems of the 17th and 18th centuries | in praise and celebration of music
Music Divine; | Ten poems of the 17th and 18th centuries | in praise and celebration of music

Music Divine; | Ten poems of the 17th and 18th centuries | in praise and celebration of music

[Toronto]: The Aliquando Press, 1977. Squarish duodecimo, 16.5 x 16.1 cm. Cased in quarter white Tyvek and olive green Kozo over boards. The spine is titled in black; the spine title is bordered by two ornaments printed in orange. The covers are decorated with type ornament centrepieces printed in teal, orange, and purple. Plain ochre endpapers. Unpaginated [pp. 40]. There is a subtle band of sunning (roughly 1 cm) along the fore-edge of the upper cover. Very mild soiling to the Tyvek spinestrip. Slightly musty. Still, a near fine copy. The text was set in Octavian with Sistina used for display. It was printed on mouldmade Zerkall Nideggen paper. The text comprises selections, verses, and lyrics by or in settings from Handel (Praise of Harmony, c. 1734), Thomas Weelkes (Heaven’s Harmony, 1600), Francis Pilkington (Music, Dear Solace, 1605), John Wilbye (Music’s Sweetest Airs, 1609), John Bennet (Rest Now, Amphion, 1599), Thomas Tomkins (Music Divine, 1622), William Byrd (Come, Woeful Orpheus, 1611; Elegy on the Death of Thomas Tallis, c. 1585), Henry Purcell (Celestial Music, 1689), and William Croft (Hymn on Divine Music, 1700). The texts are printed on the rectos, with the exception only of Purcell’s Celestial Music, which spans a recto and the following spread; each text is accompanied by an arrangement of type ornaments printed in three colours. The colours include gold, bronze, ochre, orange, and various shades of blue, red, purple, and green. From an edition of 125 copies. The present copy is number 88. (The Aliquando Century, BK 34). Item #296

“‘Musick and Poetry have ever been acknowledg’d Sisters, which walking hand in hand, support each other. As Poetry is the harmony of Words, so Musick is that of Notes; and as Poetry is a Rise above Prose and Oratory, so Musick is the exaltation of Poetry. Both of them may excel apart, but sure they are most excellent when they are joyn’d, because nothing is then wanting to either of their Perfections: for thus do they appear like Wit and Beauty in the same Person.’

In the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, music inspired verses and comments from a number of major English poets, among them John Dryden, whose words quoted above were used by Henry Purcell as his dedication to ‘The Prophetess’ in 1690. But verse, whether by accomplished professional or dedicated amateur, was often presented anonymously. Fortunately, many anonymous seventeenth- and eighteenth-century poems have survived in settings by composers of the time.

This book consists of ten poems invoking or praising music. Each poem has been set as an ode, a cantata, a madrigal or an air, by a well-known composer, who is identified at the end of each poem. They are sincere attempts to express the delight and art of music. From the poignancy of ‘Tallis is dead and music dies’ (the text possibly written by Tallis’s most devoted pupil, William Byrd), through the cynical tone of ‘Music divine’, to the conceits in the last few lines of ‘Celestial Music’, these poems all reflect the English preoccupation with music during this period. In fact, such poems inspired some of the period’s finest musical compositions— the setting of ‘Celestial music’ already mentioned is unquestionably one of Purcell’s masterpieces.

A slight liberty has been taken in the presentation of the poems. All lines have been centred, and the resulting symmetrical shape— as well as the content— has inspired the arrangement of ornaments facing each poem.

It is hoped that these anonymous poems in celebration of music will be appreciated for their own merits, apart from their musical contexts. To quote from John Playford’s 1683 preface: ‘The Author has no more to add, but his hearty wishes, that his Book may fall into no other hands but theirs who carry Musical Souls about them.’” —William Rueter, from the Preface.

Price: $130.00

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