St. Emmeram Codex

St. Emmeram Codex Facsimile Edition

Vienna (Austria), Regensburg and Leipzig (Germany) — 15th century

One of the most important sources of international polyphonic music in Central Europe to have survived from the Late Middle Ages

  1. The 276 songs in the manuscript are mainly of German, Italian, French and English origin

  2. Written with mensural notation, used for polyphonic music beginning in the 13th century

  3. Includes both famous names like Guillaume Du Fay and otherwise unknown local composers

St. Emmeram Codex

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
St. Emmeram Codex

The St. Emmeram Codex, named after its longtime repository, the Benedictine monastery of St. Emmeram in Regensburg, is one of the most important sources for polyphonic music. It was originally commissioned by the Emmeram school rector Magister Hermann Poetzlinger, who bequeathed it to the monastery along with the rest of his personal library upon his death in 1469. It contains a collection of both sacred and secular music from between 1370 and 1450 and there is evidence that at least 16 scribes added to the manuscript. The 276 songs in the manuscript are mainly of German, Italian, French and English origin and include works by Guillaume Du Fay, Gilles Binchois, Johannes Roullet, and John Dunstable. They were composed with mensural notation, which was used for polyphonic music beginning in the 13th century and had different note shapes to denote rhythmic durations that stood in well-defined, hierarchical numerical relations to each other.

St. Emmeram Codex

The St. Emmeram Codex is one of the most important collections of late medieval polyphonic music in Central Europe and one of the oldest. It is named after its longtime repository in the library of Saint Emmeram's Abbey in Regensburg and is sometimes referred to as the Mensural Codex for its use of mensural notation which, unlike Gregorian chant, rhythmically controls the interaction of the various voices that sound together. Nearly all of the 255 musical compositions found in the manuscript are polyphonic and originate from both famous medieval composers and otherwise unknown local musicians.

Famous and Not So Famous Composers

The manuscript contains many compositions by Guillaume Du Fay (1397–1474), whose work epitomized Western European music at the transition between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance more than any other composer. Other well-known names include Gilles Binchois (ca. 1400–60), Johannes Roullet (active ca. 1435–45), and several Englishmen including John Dunstaple (ca. 1390–1453) and Leonel Power (ca. 1370/85–1445). Local composers whose works are almost unknown in other sources include Hermann Edlerawer (1395–1458), Rudolf Volkhart von Häringen (d. 1465), and Urbanus Kungsperger. However, more than half of the works in the collection were composed by anonymous clerics and scholars from throughout Central Europe.

History of the Manuscript

Work on the manuscript began in the early 1430’s and was completed ca. 1444 before being bound in 1452. It was originally owned by Hermann Pötzlinger (ca. 1415–69), a priest, monastery school rector, and famous manuscript collector who was a copyist in his own right and appears to have created the manuscript with the help of some assistants. Born in Bayreuth, he studied in Vienna before being appointed a position in the diocese of Bamberg in 1439. In 1448, he came to the Benedictine monastery of St. Emmeram in Regensburg where he served as a priest and school rector. It was at this time that he established his manuscript collection consisting of 110 volumes. When Pötzlinger died in 1469, the manuscript was bequeathed along with the rest of the collection to the library of St. Emmeram. There it remained until the entire library was transferred to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in 1811. It was rediscovered in the 1920s by the musicologist Karl Dèzes (1892–1968) and has since been recognized to be one of the most important testimonies to the cultivation of polyphonic music in Central Europe during the Late Middle Ages.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Mensuralcodex von St. Emmeram
Origin
Austria
Date
15th century
Style
Language
Previous Owners
Hermann Poetzlinger

Available facsimile editions:
St. Emmeram Codex – Clm 14274 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany) Facsimile Edition
Reichert Verlag – Wiesbaden, 2006
Facsimile Editions

#1 Der Mensuralcodex St. Emmeram

Reichert Verlag – Wiesbaden, 2006

Publisher: Reichert Verlag – Wiesbaden, 2006
Commentary: 1 volume by Ian Rumbold, Peter Wright, Martin Staehelin and Lorenz Welker
Language: German
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.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
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