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Music manuscripts from the 17th and 18th centuries in the British Library

- December 3, 2013 in beethoven, British Library, CC, classical, classical music, collections, Curator's Choice, Digital Copy: No Additional Rights, handel, haydn, Images, Music, purcell, Underlying Work: PD Worldwide

CURATOR’S CHOICE #6: SANDRA TUPPEN FROM THE BRITISH LIBRARY Sandra Tuppen, curator of Music Manuscripts at the British Library, explores some highlights from their digitised collection of music manuscripts, including those penned by the hand of Haydn, Handel, Purcell, and a very messy Beethoven. Ever since the earliest methods of notating music were devised, composers and scribes have written out music by hand – on vellum in the medieval period and subsequently on paper. (Only now is this beginning to change, with the advent of computer programs for music notation.) Even after the perfecting of music printing techniques in the 16th century, when music was printed using moveable type and later by engraving, and the burgeoning of a trade in music publishing, much music continued to be written out by hand and circulated in manuscript. Printing music was expensive, time-consuming and complex; copying out music by hand could be done relatively cheaply and quickly, especially when a few copies only of a particular composition were needed. In the 17th and 18th centuries, music was written out in manuscript for several purposes. These included the creation of ‘master copies’ from which further handwritten copies could be made when required, the provision […]