"d'une rareté excessive"

Heyden, Sebald. Musicae, id est, artis canendi libri duo.

Nuremberg, Johann Petreius, 1537.

4to. (8), 115, (1) pp. With armorial title woodcut, several initials and numerous music notes in the text. Contemporary limp vellum with manuscript spine title. Wants ties.


Extremely rare first edition of one of the most important of all classic works of musical theory, a book that enjoyed a high reputation even during the author's lifetime. In contrast to his first treatise, the 1532 "Musicae stoicheiosis" which treats exclusively "musica figurata", or polyphony, his present, second work is more comprehensive and more clearly written, though limited "to matters concerning musical compositions withount discussion of purely theoretical matters. This publication was outstanding for its many examples, drawn, according to the author's prefatory statement, from the works of the best and most renowned composers - Josquin, Obrecht, La Rue, Isaac, Brumel, Ghiselin - not only as the most useful examples but also as demonstrations of great music. The examples are presented mostly without texts or with incipits only" (New Grove). "Heyden s'est fait particulièrement connaître d'une manière avantageuse par un livre [...] ce livre est précieux pour l'histoire de l'art et de la science au seizieme siècle. Dans aucun livre de ce temps, les principes des nuances et de la notation ne sont exposés avec autant de clarté et de concision que dans celui-ci. Les nombreux exemples de Josquin, d'Obrecht, de Senfel, de Henri Isaac, de Ghiselin et d'autres, qui s'y trouvent, avec les résolutions de cas embarassants de l'ancien système de proportions, ajoutent encore au prix de cet ouvrage, qui est malheureusement d'une rareté excessive" (Fétis). All of Petreius's "printed music is of exquisite beauty [...] The printer's glory days began in 1537, with Heyden's highly respected work about choral music" (Cohen, Nürnberger Musikdrucker im 16. Jh., p. 25f.).

Occasional insignificant waterstaining to margins, but altogether a splendidly crisp, wide-margined copy with contemporary handwritten ownership of one "Anastasius de Verona" (erased) on the title page. Of the utmost rarity: a single copy in auction records of the past decades (1968, Hauswedell 158, no. 1246), and a single copy of the 1540 second edition (1942: Schab, cat. 5, no. 113; which is also the only edition kept at Cambridge).

BM-STC German 404. Eitner V, 137. RISM (Écrits impr.) 412. Hirsch I, 246. Wolffheim I, 705. Teramoto (Petreius) passim. New Grove VIII, 28.

Stock Code: BN#47554 Tags: ,