Eton Choirbook

Eton Choirbook – DIAMM – Ms 178 – Eton College Library (Eton, United Kingdom)

Eton (United Kingdom) β€” 1490–1502

The largest collection of pre-Reformation England's Latin choral tradition: a valuable music manuscript with 64 medieval compositions written at the famous Eton College

  1. This manuscript represents the largest collection of the Latin choral tradition in pre-Reformation England

  2. The valuable music manuscript probably originated between 1490 and 1501 in Eton College

  3. 24 composers are listed including Robert Wylkynson, John Browne, Gilbert Banastre, and William Cornysne

Eton Choirbook

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Eton Choirbook

One of the greatest collections of Latin choir music to survive the English Reformation originated at Eton College between 1490 and 1501. The Eton Choirbook contains 64 compositions on 260 surviving pages, which include nine Magnificats, a Passion, and 54 motets, which were primarily sung in the evening after the prayer to the honor of the Virgin Mary. Pieces from 24 composers are assembled in the cultural artifact, whereby the Englishman John Browne (1453-ca. 1500) is represented most often. Charming initials are distributed throughout the entire manuscript, which gentrify the otherwise unostentatious choir book.

Eton Choirbook

The Eton Choirbook is an important piece of the English choral tradition before the reforms of Henry VIII. Containing 260 of the original 428 pages, it assembles spiritual English vocal music. Nine Magnificats belong among the 64 surviving compositions, which were sung in the liturgy of the hours, as well as a Passion that sets the biblical Passion text to music, and 54 motets, which one can recognize as polyphonic vocal music, which emerged in the 13th century. One sang the motets primarily in the evening after the prayer for the honor of the Virgin Mary. The valuable music manuscript probably originated between 1490 and 1501 in Eton College, which was established through the charity of Henry VI. Decorative initials are spread over the entire manuscript and lend it a splendid character.

A Music Manuscript of Particular Importance

The particular importance of the Eton Choirbook is twofold. On the one hand, it is esteemed as a cultural artifact, while on the other hand, it is a source for English polyphonic choir music composed in the 15th and early 16th centuries. It contains the largest collection of Latin choral works to survive the English Reformation, aside from the Lambeth/Arundel Choir Book and the Caius Choir Book. The majority of the compositions can only be found in this manuscript.

A Long List of Participants

With 24 proud names, the list of composers who enter into the Eton Choirbook is extraordinarily long. Many of them stood in close connection with Eton College, and thus Robert Wylkynson (ca. 1450–1515), the choir master of the college beginning in 1500, is also included. The Englishmen John Browne (1453-ca. 1500), whose music is distinguished by its unusually long melodies, is represented with the most pieces. Additional compositions by Gilbert Banastre, William Cornysne, Richard Davy, Robert Fayrfax, Richard Hygons, Walter Lambe, and many more are contained in the first class music manuscript.


Alternative Titles
Chorbuch von Eton
The Eton Choirbook
Size / Format
264 pages / 59.5 Γ— 42.5 cm
Various decorated initials
54 motets, 9 Magnificats, 1 Passion

Available facsimile editions:
Eton Choirbook – DIAMM – Ms 178 – Eton College Library (Eton, United Kingdom)
DIAMM – London, 2010
Detail Picture

Eton Choirbook

Salve regina, mater misericordiae

This antiphon dedicated to the Virgin Mary was sung from Pentecost until Advent and was especially dear to sailors. It is also one of the few compositions in this historically significant musical manuscript to be adorned with a golden historiated initial and was written by Walter Lambe, identified here as β€œWalteus”. The leafy β€œP” initial contains the Lamb of God resting on a book and a bearded figure with a halo, probably John the Evangelist considering that an eagle is also depicted.

Eton Choirbook – DIAMM – Ms 178 – Eton College Library (Eton, United Kingdom)
Single Page

Eton Choirbook

O Maria salvatoris mater

One of the few Latin liturgical manuscripts to survive the English Reformation opens with a splendidly adorned page featuring historiated initials. The β€œO” initial in the upper-left hand corner of the page features a shield incorporating the fleur-de-lys and golden lions of the English royal coat of arms. Meanwhile, two red and blue initials are decorated with human faces.

This work originated from the pen of John Browne, who is the best-represented contributor of this manuscript. His choral music displays a high level of skill and is distinguished by innovative scoring, false relations, and unusually long melodic lines. It is also notable for its varied and unusual vocal instrumentation with each composition using a unique array of voices.

Eton Choirbook – DIAMM – Ms 178 – Eton College Library (Eton, United Kingdom)
Facsimile Editions

#1 The Eton Choirbook

DIAMM – London, 2010

Publisher: DIAMM – London, 2010
Binding: Buckram binding or leather binding
Commentary: 1 volume by Magnus Williamson
Language: English
1 volume: This is not complete. (Note: Map 1 from the original Atlas of Antonio Millo) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, colors). The format of the facsimile is reduced to ca. 42.6 Γ— 30.6 cm. The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
You might also be interested in:
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria – Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Ms. 9085 – BibliothΓ¨que Royale de Belgique (Brussels, Belgium)
Dancing Book of Margaret of Austria
Flanders – Ca. 1470

Musical notations and calligraphy in gold and silver for the wife of Emperor Maximilian: one of only seven surviving manuscripts from the Middle Ages executed entirely on black parchment

Experience More
Ludwig van Beethoven - Violin Concerto in D-Dur, op. 61 – Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Mus. Hs. 17.538 – Γ–sterreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Ludwig van Beethoven - Violin Concerto in D-Dur, op. 61
Vienna (Austria) – 1806

Preserved for posterity only by a last-minute facsimile: the faithful reproduction of Beethoven's world-famous composition with his last corrections in varying colors

Experience More
Blog articles worth reading
Filter selection