Eton Choirbook

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O Maria salvatoris, from the Eton Choirbook

The Eton Choirbook (Eton College MS. 178) is a richly illuminated manuscript collection of English sacred music composed during the late fifteenth century. It was one of very few collections of Latin liturgical music to survive the Reformation, and hence is an important source. It originally contained music by 24 different composers; however, many of the pieces are damaged or incomplete. It is one of three large choirbooks surviving from early-Tudor England (the others are the Lambeth Choirbook and the Caius Choirbook).

The Choirbook was compiled between approximately 1500 and 1505 for use at Eton College; its present binding dates from the mid 16th century. 126 folios remain of the original 224, including the index. In the original, there were a total of 93 separate compositions; however only 64 remain either complete or in part. Some of the 24 composers are known only because of their inclusion in the Eton Choirbook. John Browne has the most compositions (10), followed by Richard Davy (9) and Walter Lambe (8).

Stylistically, the music contained in the Eton Choirbook shows three phases in the development of early Renaissance polyphony in England. The first phase is represented by the music of Richard Hygons, William Horwood and Gilbert Banester. Most of the music of this early phase is polyphonic but non-imitative, with contrast achieved by alternation of full five-voice texture with sections sung by fewer voices. The second phase, which includes music by John Browne, Richard Davy and Walter Lambe, uses imitation, cantus firmus techniques, and frequent cross-relations (a feature which was to become a distinctive sound in early Tudor polyphony). The final phase represented in the choirbook includes music by William Cornysh and Robert Fayrfax, composed around 1500. Points of imitation are frequent, cantus firmus techniques disappear, and in general the sound of the music is more Continental.

Contents[edit]

Eton College.

All of the compositions in the book are sacred vocal music in Latin. According to the index, it initially contained 93 works. However, part of its content was lost and only 64 works have survived, a few of them incomplete. They consist of:

The following inventory represents the contents as enumerated by the index, with folio numbers for the works that survive.

  • 1. f. 1v-4: O Maria salvatoris mater - John Browne (i)
  • 2. f. 4v-8: Gaude flore virginali - Hugh Kellyk
  • 3. f. 8v-9v: O Maria plena gratiae - Walter Lambe
  • 4. f. 10-11: Gaude flore virginali - Richard Davy
  • 5. f. 11v-14: Stabat mater dolorosa - ?John Browne (ii)
  • 6. f. 14v: O regina caelestis gloriae - Walter Lambe
  • 7. f. 15-17: Stabat virgo mater Christi - ?John Browne (i)
  • 8. f. 17v-19: Stabat juxta Christi crucem - ?John Browne (i)
  • 9. f. 19v-22: O regina mundi clara - ?John Browne (i)
  • 10. f. 22v-25: Gaude virgo mater Christi - Sturton
  • 11. f. 25v: O virgo prudentissima - Robert Wilkinson [incomplete]
  • 12. missing: Gaude flore virginali - Robert Wilkinson
  • 13. missing: Salve regina vas mundiciae - Fawkner
  • 14. f. 26: Gaude flore virginali - William Cornysh (senior) [incomplete]
  • 15. f. 26v-29: Salve regina mater misericordiae - Robert Wilkinson
  • 16. f. 29v-30: Salve regina mater misericordiae - William Brygeman
  • 17. f. 30v-32: Salve regina mater misericordiae - William Horwood
  • 18. f. 32v-34: Salve regina mater misericordiae - Richard Davy
  • 19. f. 34v-36: Salve regina mater misericordiae - ?William Cornysh (senior)
  • 20. f. 36v-38: Salve regina mater misericordiae - ?John Browne (ii)
  • 21. f. 038v-40: Salve regina mater misericordiae - Walter Lambe
  • 22. f. 40v-042: Salve regina mater misericordiae - John Sutton
  • 23. f. 42v-44: Salve regina mater misericordiae - Robert Hacomplaynt
  • 24. f. 44v-46: Salve regina mater misericordiae - Nicholas Huchyn
  • 25. f. 46v-48: Salve regina mater misericordiae - Robert Wilkinson
  • 26. f. 48v-50: Salve regina mater misericordiae - Robert Fayrfax
  • 27. f. 50v-52: Salve regina mater misericordiae - Richard Hygons
  • 28. f. 52v-54: Salve regina mater misericordiae - ?John Browne (i)
  • 29. f. 54v-56: Salve regina mater misericordiae - John Hampton
  • 30. f. 56v-59: O Domine caeli terraeque creator - Richard Davy
  • 31. f. 59v-62: Salve Jesu mater vera - Richard Davy
  • 32. f. 62v-65: Stabat mater dolorosa - Richard Davy
  • 33. f. 65v-68: Virgo templum trinitatis - Richard Davy
  • 34. f. 68v-71: In honore summae matris - Richard Davy
  • 35. f. 71v-74: O Maria et Elisabeth - Gilbert Banester
  • 36. f. 74v-76: Gaude flore virginali - William Horwood
  • 37. f. 76v-77v: Gaude virgo mater Christi - William Horwood
  • 38. missing: O regina caelestis gloriae - Walter Lambe
  • 39. missing: Gaude flore virginali - Walter Lambe
  • 40. missing: Virgo gaude gloriosa - Walter Lambe
  • 41. missing: Stabat mater dolorosa - Robert Fayrfax
  • 42. missing: Ave cuius conceptio - Robert Fayrfax
  • 43. missing: Quid cantemus innocentes - Robert Fayrfax
  • 44. missing: Gaude flore virginali - John Dunstaple
  • 45. missing: Ave lux totius mundi - ?John Browne (i)
  • 46. missing: Gaude flore virginali - ?John Browne (i)
  • 47. missing: Stabat mater dolorosa - ?William Cornysh (senior)
  • 48. f. 78-80: Stabat mater dolorosa - ?William Cornysh (senior)
  • 49. f. 80v-82: Gaude virgo salutata - Fawkner
  • 50. f. 82v-85: Gaude rosa sine spina - Fawkner
  • 51. f. 85v-87: Gaude flore virginali - Edmund Turges
  • 52. f. 87v-88: Nesciens mater virgo virum - Walter Lambe
  • 53. f. 88v: Salve decus castitatis - Robert Wilkinson
  • 54. f. 89: Ascendit Christus hodie - Nicholas Huchyn
  • 55. f. 89v-91v: O mater venerabilis - ?John Browne (i)
  • 56. missing: Ad te purissima virgo - ?William Cornysh (senior)
  • 57. f. 92v-93v: Ave lumen gratiae - Robert Fayrfax
  • 58. missing: O virgo virginum praeclara - Walter Lambe
  • 59. f. 94-95: Gaude virgo mater Christi - Robert Wilkinson
  • 60. f. 95v-97: Stabat virgo mater Christi - ?John Browne (i)
  • 61. f. 97v-99: Stella caeli extirpavit que lactavit - Walter Lambe
  • 62. f. 99v-101: Ascendit Christus hodie - Walter Lambe
  • 63. f. 101v-103: Gaude flore virginali - Walter Lambe
  • 64. f. 103v-105: Gaude flore virginali - Edmund Turges
  • 65. f. 105v-106: Ave Maria mater Dei - ?William Cornysh (senior)
  • 66. f. 106v-108: Gaude virgo mater Christi - ?William Cornysh (senior)
  • 67. f. 108v-110v: Gaude virgo salutata - Holynborne
  • 68. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - John Browne (i)
  • 69. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - Richard Davy
  • 70. f. 111: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - John Nesbet
  • 71. f. 111v-113: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - William Horwood
  • 72. f. 113v-116: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - Hugh Kellyk
  • 73. f. 116v-118: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - Walter Lambe
  • 74. f. 118v: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - John Browne (i)
  • 75. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - Robert Fayrfax
  • 76. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - William Brygeman
  • 77. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - Robert Wilkinson
  • 78. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - Robert Mychelson
  • 79. f. 119-119v: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - Robert Wilkinson
  • 80. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - William Cornysh (Junior)
  • 81. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - John Browne (i)
  • 82. f. 120-120v: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - John Sygar
  • 83. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - John Browne (i)
  • 84. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - Edmund Turges
  • 85. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - Edmund Turges
  • 86. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - John Baldwin
  • 87. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - John Sygar
  • 88. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - John Baldwin
  • 89. missing: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - Edmund Turges
  • 90. f. 121: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - Richard Davy
  • 91. f. 121v-123: Magnificat: Et exultavit spiritus meus - William Stratford
  • 92. f. 124-126: Passio Domini - Richard Davy
  • 93. f. 126v: Jesus autem transiens - Robert Wilkinson

The composers represented in the manuscript are: John Browne (10 works), Richard Davy (9), Walter Lambe (8), Robert Wilkinson (7), William Cornysh (5), William Horwood (4), Robert Fayrfax (2), John Fawkyner (2), Nicholas Huchyn (2), Hugh Kellyk (2), Edmund Turges (2), Gilbert Banester, Brygeman (1), Robert Hacomplaynt (1), John Hampton (1), Holynborne (1), Richard Hygons (1), Nesbet (1), Edmund Sturton (1), John Sutton (1), Sygar (1) and William Stratford (1).

Other composers as Baldwyn, John Dunstable and Mychelson also appear in the index, but their works were lost.

Sources[edit]

  • Harold Gleason and Warren Becker, Music in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Music Literature Outlines Series I). Bloomington, Indiana. Frangipani Press, 1986. ISBN 0-89917-034-X
  • "Sources, MS, Renaissance Polyphony", from Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed April 24, 2005), (subscription access)
  • Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0-393-09530-4

External links[edit]

Recordings[edit]

  • The Rose and The Ostrich Feather, Eton Choirbook Volume I. Harry Christophers: The Sixteen. CORO: CD COR16026.
  • The Crown of Thorns, Eton Choirbook Volume II. Harry Christophers: The Sixteen. CORO: CD COR16012.
  • The Pillars Of Eternity, Eton Choirbook Volume III. Harry Christophers: The Sixteen. CORO: CD COR16022.
  • The Flower of All Virginity, Eton Choirbook Volume IV. Harry Christophers: The Sixteen. CORO: CD COR16018.
  • Voices of Angels, Eton Choirbook Volume V. Harry Christophers: The Sixteen. CORO: CD COR16002.
  • More Divine Than Human: Music from The Eton Choir Book. Stephen Darlington: Choir of Christ Church Cathedral Oxford. Avie: AV2167.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Williamson, Magnus: The Eton Choirbook, Facsimile with introductory study (Oxford: DIAMM Publications, 2010)
  • Curtis, Gareth; Wathey, Andrew: 'Fifteenth-Century English Liturgical Music: A List of the Surviving Repertory' RMA Research Chronicle 27 (1994), 1-69
  • Williams, Carol J: 'The Salve Regina Settings in the Eton Choirbook' Miscellanea Musicologica [Adelaide] X (1979), 28-37 [CCM descriptor(s): LpDis]
  • Phillips, Peter: 'Performance Practice in l0th-Century English Choral Music' Early Music VI (1978), 195-9 [CCM descriptor(s): FpDis]
  • Benham, Hugh: Latin Church Music in England c. 1460-1575 (London, 1977), 58ff, passim [CCM descriptor(s): DpLpTpFpDis]
  • Sandon, Nicholas: 'Fragments of Medieval Polyphony at Canterbury Cathedral' Musica Disciplina XXX (1976), 37-53, 51-3
  • Bent, Margaret; Bent, Ian; Trowell, Brian (eds.): John Dunstable complete works, Musica Britannica Vol. VIII (London, 1970) [2nd revised edn], X-XII
  • Bent, Margaret; Bent, Ian: 'Dufay, Dunstable, Plummer-A New Source' Journal of the American Musicological Society XXII (1969), 394 - 424
  • Warren, Edwin B: Life and Works of Robert Fayrfax, MSD Vol. 22 (American Institute of Musicology, 1969), 42
  • Kirsch, Winfried: Die Quellen der mehrstimmigen Magnificat- und Te DeumVertonungen bis zur Mitte des 16. Jahrhunderts (Tutzing, 1966), 135
  • Harrison, Frank Ll: Music in Medieval Britain (London, 1963), 307-29
  • Westrup, J A; et al., (eds.): New Oxford History of Music (London, New York, and Toronto, 1954-), III, Plate III
  • Harrison, Frank Llewellyn: 'The Eton Choirbook: Its Background and Contents (Eton College Library ms. 178)' Annles Musicologiques I (1953), 151-75
  • Harrison, Frank Llewellyn: 'The Eton College Choirbook (Eton College MS 178)', in International Musicological Society: Report of the 4th Congress, Utrecht 1952 (1952), 224-32
  • Blume, Friedrich (ed.): Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: Allgemeine Enzyklopädie der Musik (Kassel, 1949–79) [Cited by volume and column number], II, 1591-5, Tafel 48
  • Hughes, Dom Anselm: 'The Eton Manuscript' Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association LIII (1926-7), 67-83
  • Squire, W Barclay: 'On an early Sixteenth Century MS. of English Music in the Library of Eton College' Archaeologia LVI (1898), 89-102
  • James, Montague Rhodes: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Library of Eton College (Cambridge, 1895), 108-12
  • For a comprehensive description of the MS see Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music