Musical notation and liturgical practices from the Early Middle Ages to the 17th century are found in this selection, including old musical notations or plainsong books, which stand out in their organisation and origin.
Josquin Des Près et al. [Manuscript 5 of the Orfeó Català]. Late 15th and early 16th centuries. Manuscript music, 69 f. (35 x 24.5 cm)
Manuscript of sacred polyphony from the late 15th and early 16th centuries with 22 works, five of them anonymous, by Bartomeu Cots (1), Heinrich Isaac (4), Josquin des Pres (4), Marturià Prats (1), Milans (1), Jacob Obrecht (1), Francisco de Peñalosa (1), Alonso de la Plaja (2), Jean Richafort (1), and a piece attributed in various sources to four different composers: Anchieta, Compère, Peñalosa and Ribera. The combination of unknown composers such as Milans and Plaja (or little known such as the Cots and Marturià) of the Catalan region, with major international figures such as Isaac, Josquin and Obrecht, poses a very intriguing enigma about where this manuscript could have been compiled and sung, particularly since: 1) it is the only source of Isaac’s Missa Argentum et aurum; 2) with the exception of a damaged 1503 print, it is the most complete source of Obrecht’s Missa Salve diva parens; and 3) together with manuscript Vatican 41, it is the most reliable source of Josquin’s Missa Fortuna desperata. Obviously, Ms. 5 is not a peripheral source; the main copyist seems to have had direct access to reliable versions of the international repertoire. The inscription of the scribe, most likely a foreigner, of “Scriptum per me Desiderium Johannis Clericum AEseteñ”, indicates that his name was Desiderium Johannis, but “AEseteñ” does not clarify his place of origin; perhaps it refers to Isernia, a town near the Abbey of Montecassino in the Kingdom of Naples. The hypothesis that the manuscript was copied in Catalonia, however, cannot be discarded entirely given that another scribe later added works of Catalan composers. The presence in the manuscript of Josquin’s Domine non secundum (a motet associated with a ceremonial at the Vatican), as well as the paper’s watermark (a fleur-de-lys in a circle) suggest an Italian origin for Ms. 5. What’s more, this type of watermark is also found on two musical manuscripts of the Sistine Chapel, Vatican 49 and 63, copied between 1480 and 1507. It is possible that the musical career of Marturià Prats, singer, composer and organ builder from Barcelona who sang in the papal chapel (1501 – 1503) – and who returned to Barcelona, where we find him in 1514 building the organ of the basilica of Santa Maria del Mar – might explain the addition of the works of Catalan composers, as well as the possible transfer of the manuscript from Italy to Catalonia.