Lot 87
  • 87


30,000 - 50,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Mid-sixteenth-century manuscript of German lute tablature, comprising 35 pieces, nearly half unrecorded,
  • paper
the composers not named, but containing some intabulations after Ludwig Senfl, Hans Neusidler, Thomas Stolzer and Paul Hofhaimer, including the songs ‘Es wolt ain Maidlein wasser hollen’ (by Senfl), ‘Ich Clag den Tag’ (by Stolzer) and ‘Mein ainigs A’ (by Hofhaimer); popular tunes ‘Cara Cossa’, ‘Wo soll ich mich hin kheren’ and ‘Es Ritt ain armes Reiiterle auß’ (by Neusidler); the chorale tunes ‘Erstanden ist der heillig christ’ and ‘Aus tieffer not schrey Ich zu dier Herr gott’ (by Luther);  dances such as ‘Bentzenauer Tanz’, ‘La francescina’ and others, including a few three or five pages each (‘Feldt geschray’, ‘Pass ē mezo’ and ‘La traditora’), all containing differences from any other recorded copies of these pieces, notated in German lute tablature on three systems per page, the pitches indicated by letters and numbers, the rhythms written above, without time signatures

55 pages, oblong 8vo (c.11 x 16cm), Italian paper (anchor watermark [Briquet 523]), sewn in one gathering, eighteenth-century flyleaves, later vellum covers, possibly Swiss (or Austrian) provenance, second third of the sixteenth century, damp-staining to top outer corners, the paper generally sound, slight loss to title on f.8, lacking at end (final work is incomplete)

Catalogue Note

VERY RARE: This is an unrecorded source for Renaissance lute music. Such manuscripts are of the greatest rarity at auction, German lute tablature especially so. There are only around fifteen manuscripts of German tablature, contemporary or earlier than this one, surviving in libraries.  We have no record of a comparable example appearing at auction for over twenty years.  All the pieces contain unique features: they are either hitherto unknown or contain divergences from the other known manuscripts of these pieces.  Some of the repertory, such as the 'Bentzenauer Tanz', suggest that a Swiss provenance is likely.   The New Grove (2001) lists fewer than ten sixteenth-century manuscripts of German lute music and RISM B/VII (Boetticher, 1978) fewer than twenty. This is the most important such manuscript to appear at auction since the "Wertheim" lute book, sold at Sotheby’s, 1 December 1995, Lot 220 (now Austrian National Library, Mus.Hs.41950); dating from c.1525, this also contained works by Senfl and Hofhaimer.  Printed lute tablatures from this era include Neusidler’s Ein newgewordent künstlich Lautenbuch (1536 and other editions), Ochsenkun’s Tablaturbuch (1558) and Jobin’s Das erste Buch (1572, a copy sold here in 2002), most extant in a handful of copies, emphasizing the importance of a manuscript such as this in the early history of German solo instrumental music.

The manuscript contains the following sixteen apparently unrecorded numbers: ‘Der pfarrer von S. Veytt’ (f.1v), ‘Eins zway drey’ (f.5), ‘Welsch tannz’ (f.6v), ‘Der Herman in der [...] lag’ (f.8), ‘So ist es doch kain Reitterlein es ist ain Edlman’ (f.10), ‘Ein lauf durch dy gannz lautten Wälsch st[...]l’ (f.13), ‘Nach lauf’ (f.14), ‘Pass ē mezo’ (f.14v), ‘La mais le may meray mason’ (f.16), ‘Passemezo im abzug’ (f.18v), ‘Saltarelo’ (f.19), ‘Pass ē mezo’ (f.19v), ‘Kaiser Maximilian Tanz’ (f.23v), ‘Gaiarda’ (f.24), ‘Paduana’ (f.24v) and ’Ein türgkisch Tannz’ (f.26).  The volume now comprises a single gathering of 28 leaves; there is no title and the final piece ('La traditora') lacks the ending, so it is possible that there was originally another sheet on the outside, which was lost before the present binding was applied.  

Sotheby's is happy to acknowledge the kind assistance of Professor Tim Crawford in our cataloguing of this lot.