Lucca Choirbook

Lucca Choirbook Facsimile Edition

Bruges (Belgium) — Ca. 1463

A long-lost musical manuscript carefully reconstructed over the course of years from fragments used to bind other books

  1. In 1965, it was first noticed that various notarial acts in Lucca’s archives had similar bindings

  2. The fragments were the remains of a gigantic cathedral codex commissioned in Bruges ca. 1463

  3. Musicologist Reinhard Strohm (b. 1942) worked with archivists to reassemble it in its original form

Lucca Choirbook

Ms 238 / Ms 97 Archivio di Stato di Lucca (Lucca, Italy) / Archivio Arcivescovile di Lucca (Lucca, Italy)
  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Lucca Choirbook

In the mid-20th century, Reinhard Strohm noticed that bindings on some of the books in the state archives of Lucca, Italy consisted of the pages of a centuries-old music manuscript. Over the course of the next few years, Strohm worked with the archivists to remove these leaves and reassemble as much of the original manuscript as possible. This major cultural discovery is now known as The Lucca Choirbook, a reassembled volume comprising what remains of a gigantic cathedral codex commissioned in Bruges ca. 1463. The sacred music from the 15th century contained in the manuscript includes songs written in English, Franco-Flemish, and Italian – including works by the celebrated composers Guillaume Du Fay and Henricus Isaac.

Lucca Choirbook

In the 17th century, a massive songbook created in Bruges ca. 1463 was cannibalized and dissembled in order to use its large parchment sheets to bind various notarial acts in the archives of the northern Italian city of Lucca. A lucky discovery of the similarity between these bindings resulted in the reconstruction and ordering of the work in 1965 by musicologist Reinhard Strohm (b. 1942) and the archivists of Lucca. What they discovered was a lost manuscript that may have originally been commissioned by Stefano Trenta, Bishop of Lucca (1448–78).

The Road from Bruges to Lucca

Under Pope Paul II (r. 1464–71), Bishop Trenta served as the papal nuncio in England and Burgundy. Evidence of his connection to the manuscript is attested to by the mention of Paul II on fol. 1 as well as the repertoire of English, Franco-Flemish, and Italian sacred music found in it. This includes fragments of mass ordinary settings, motets, magnificats, and hymns by Domarto, Dufay, Frye, Heyns, Isaac, Martini, Peragulfus, Plummer, Puillois, Stone, and Tik. In addition to the core of MS 238 from the Archivio di Stato, Lucca, there are also small additions from Ms 97 of the Archivio arcivescovile, Lucca and cartella 11/III from the Archivio arcivescovile, Biblioteca Maffi, Lucca.


Alternative Titles
Lucca Chorbuch
Ca. 1463
French-Flemish, English and Italian sacred music of the fifteenth century, comprising works by the composers Henricus Isaac and Guillaume Du Fay

Available facsimile editions:
University of Chicago Press – Chicago, 2008
Facsimile Editions

#1 The Lucca Choirbook

University of Chicago Press – Chicago, 2008

Publisher: University of Chicago Press – Chicago, 2008
Commentary: 1 volume by Reinhard Strohm
Languages: French, Italian
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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