The Lucca Choirbook

An astonishing tale of cultural recycling, rediscovery, and recovery. All I can say is, praise be for musicologists!

promo for The Lucca Choirbook (2009), edited by Reinhard Strohm, University of Chicago Press :: thanks Myke!

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More than forty years ago in the state archives of Lucca, Italy, musicologist Reinhard Strohm noticed that bindings on some of the books were unusual: they consisted of the pages of a centuries-old music manuscript. In the following years, Strohm worked with the archivists to remove these leaves and reassemble as much as possible of the original manuscript, a major cultural recovery now known as The Lucca Choirbook.

The recovered volume comprises what remains of a gigantic cathedral codex  commissioned in Bruges around 1463 and containing English, Franco-Flemish, and Italian sacred music of the fifteenth century—including works by the celebrated composers Guillaume Du Fay and Henricus Isaac.

This facsimile of the choirbook includes all the known leaves, ordered according to their proper placement in the original codex. In the introduction, Strohm tells the fascinating story of this choirbook, identifying its early users and reconstructing its travel from Bruges to Lucca.

Originally published at culture-making.com.

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