Music from a medieval manuscript that has not been heard since the 15th century has been brought back to life, thanks to researchers at The University of Nottingham. The project, involving collaboration with academics in Germany, has resulted in the production of a modern colour facsimile of one of the largest, oldest and most important collections of vocal music to survive from late-medieval Europe, as well as a CD recording of some of the music it contains. The St Emmeram Codex is a handwritten anthology of 255 compositions of mostly polyphonic music (music for more than one voice), both sacred and secular. The manuscript belonged to the Benedictine monastery of St Emmeram in Regensburg, Germany, but since the early 19th century has been kept under lock and key in the Bavarian State Library in Munich.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Music from a medieval manuscript that has not been heard since the 15th century has been brought back to life, thanks to researchers at The University of Nottingham.
The project, involving collaboration with academics in Germany, has resulted in the production of a modern colour facsimile of one of the largest, oldest and most important collections of vocal music to survive from late-medieval Europe, as well as a CD recording of some of the music it contains. The St Emmeram Codex is a handwritten anthology of 255 compositions of mostly polyphonic music ( music for more than one voice ), both sacred and secular. The manuscript belonged to the Benedictine monastery of St Emmeram in Regensburg, Germany, but since the early 19th century has been kept under lock and key in the Bavarian State Library in Munich.
The three-year research project, 'The Music Anthology of Herman Pötzlinger', was supported by a £256,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council ( UK ). The work was carried out by Professor Peter Wright and Senior Research Fellow Ian Rumbold from the University of Nottingham's Department of Music, and involved collaboration with academic colleagues in Munich and Regensburg.
The codex was put together by a priest, Hermann Pötzlinger ( died 1469 ), and a number of assistants during the late 1430s and early 1440s. It reveals a strong Central European interest in the acquisition of music from Italy, France, the Dutch and Flemish low countries and England. Many of the pieces were written in Pötzlinger's own hand, and they include a large number of works by the Franco-Flemish composer Guillaume Du Fay, one of the best known composers of the early Renaissance in Europe. Most of the compositions are written in an international style, but many use musical styles and notation that are native to the region.
Such is the value and significance of the codex that both the musicologists and the Bavarian State Library felt it was vital to produce a complete facsimile which could be published to make it available to a much wider academic community, as well as to performers. The publication of this high-quality reproduction will also ensure that the extremely fragile original manuscript can be better preserved and protected.
Extensive trials with modern digital photographic techniques were carried out to decide on the best processes to carry out the reproduction of the original manuscript without damaging it and in such a way as to achieve the best results.
The publication of the resulting fine colour facsimile was followed by a recording of the works by professional singers 'Stimmwerck', now available on CD ( AE10023 ). The main findings of the project are due to be published next year in a monograph by Ian Rumbold with Peter Wright: Hermann Pötzlinger's Music Book: the St Emmeram Codex and its Contexts ( Boydell and Brewer ).
Professor Peter Wright said: “This has been a tremendously rewarding project. Thanks to a very generous grant from the AHRC, and our good fortune in being able to secure the services of the leading authority on the St Emmeram Codex, namely Ian Rumbold, it has been possible to carry out an in-depth investigation of this endlessly fascinating manuscript and its various contexts. We now probably know more about its compiler and owner, Hermann Pötzlinger, than we do about any other music scribe of the period. One of the most exciting things of all has been the collaboration with Stimmwerck, and hearing music that has lain dormant for more than half a millennium brought to life”.
An edition of the whole manuscript, which will make all of the music available to performers and students, is in preparation.
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Background notes: Hermann Pötzlinger ( b1415-20 ) and the St Emmeram Codex
Hermann Pötzlinger was a student at the University of Vienna from 1436 to 1439 and may have come across most of the music in the intellectual environment there. As far as we know, the study of practical music-making ( as opposed to the theory of music ) did not form part of the university curriculum at the time, and we still do not know whether Pötzlinger's interest in this music was purely intellectual, or whether he was involved in performances himself in some context or other. He later moved to Regensburg and became master of the school attached to the monastery of St Emmeram, and it may be that he used this manuscript to teach his students to sing, perhaps at services in the monastery church or the parish church next door to it. This sort of music was banned from the monastery soon afterwards, however, and Pötzlinger moved to Leipzig, where he was involved with the university. When he became ill in about 1459 he retired back to Regensburg and gave his whole private library of about 100 manuscripts to the monastery at which he had previously worked, probably in exchange for board, lodging and health care.
Notes to editors:
The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong ( SJTU ) and Times Higher ( THES ) World University Rankings.
It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia.
Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 ( International Trade ) and 2007 ( Innovation — School of Pharmacy ).
Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for four years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.
Arts & Humanities Research Council: Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the UK Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from archaeology and English literature to design and dance. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,000 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. Arts and humanities researchers constitute nearly a quarter of all research-active staff in the higher education sector. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. www.ahrc.ac.uk
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