Sources and Transmission

Authored by: Robert Thompson

The Ashgate Research Companion to Henry Purcell

Print publication date:  May  2012
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754666455
eBook ISBN: 9781315613024
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043270

10.4324/9781315613024.ch2

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Abstract

After Purcell’s death in 1695 his autograph manuscripts began their slow transformation from everyday working material to precious cultural artefacts, an evolution that naturally made them objects of acquisitive antiquarian interest and, in due course, of critical scholarship. Recognition of the autographs’ intrinsic value appears to have been almost immediate and, paradoxically, to have been sustained throughout a period when their textual readings were sometimes adapted to conform to eighteenth-century musical taste. Of the three major autograph scores to have survived into modern times, Cfm 88 belonged in 1728 to Bernard Gates, who became Master of the Children at the Chapel Royal in 1727, Lbl R.M. 20.h.8 clearly remained in the Purcell family, and – while the provenance of the third large manuscript, Lbl Add. 30930, cannot be traced back further than Philip Hayes’s ownership in the mid-eighteenth century – it is likely that any significant excisions from it were made in Purcell’s lifetime and that thereafter it too was carefully preserved. 1 1

For a detailed account of the known provenance and early history of these three manuscripts see Robert Shay and Robert Thompson, Purcell Manuscripts: The Principal Musical Sources (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 33–47 (Cfm 88), 84–100 (Lbl Add. 30930) and 126–35 (Lbl R.M. 20.h.8).

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