Musurgia Universalis sive ars magna consoni et dissoni in X libros digesta. Qua universa sonorum doctrina, et philosophia, musicaeque... aperiuntur et demonstrantur. Tomus I [-II qui continet... musicam mirificam... magiam consoni et dissoni... harmoniam mundi].

KIRCHER, Athanasius 1601-1680

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Musurgia Universalis

Rome Francesco Corbelletti [II Ludovico Grignani] 1650 2 volumes. Folio. Early mid-tan half calf with marbled boards with spine in decorative compartments and leather title labels gilt. Volume I: 1f. (fine full-page engraved pictorial title by Baronius after a drawing by Paul Schor, incorporating a Canon Angelicus for 9 choirs of 36 voices), 1f. (recto title with vignette, verso contents), 1f. (fine full-page dedicatory engraving of Leopold-Guillaume, Archduke of Austria, by Paul Ponti after Paul Schor, dated 1649), 9ff., 690 (=692) pp. + 11 numbered plates (I-X, XIII) printed on one side of each of 10 leaves. Volume II: 2ff. (title with vignette, fine full-page engraved frontispiece), 462 pp. + 18 ff. (indexes and errata) + 12 numbered plates (XI-XI, XIV-XXXIII) printed on one side of each of 11 leaves. The two volumes thus contain 3 unnumbered full-page plates together with 23 numbered plates printed on 21 leaves (plates IV and V are printed on a single leaf, as are plates XI and XII). The plates are all finely engraved and illustrate a variety of musical instruments including the harpsichord, organ, strings and winds. With numerous woodcut illustrations, diagrams, tables, etc. within text, including many of musical instruments. Musical examples printed typographically in diamond-head notation, including many of various musical forms including multiple contrapuntal part-writing. Occasional early manuscript annotations, including corrections to pp. 88, 89, 308 of Volume I and pp. 94, 96, 105 and 108 of Volume II and early ownership signature to upper outer corner of title (slightly trimmed), most probably in the same hand.Binding refurbished; corners and edges somewhat worn. Some browning, spotting and occasional minor staining and edges tears; several marginal tears repaired; some mispagination to Volume I at pp. 554-560 and errors in pagination from page 577 on.

First Edition. Damschroder pp. 139-140. Cortot pp. 99-100. Hirsch I, 266. Gregory-Bartlett I, p. 135. Wolffheim I, 732. RISM BVI p. 449. An extraordinary undertaking by this Jesuit polymath, sometimes referred to as "the last Renaissance man," author of approximately 40 works in a diversity of disciplines. The Musurgia was an attempt to present the entire body of musical knowledge up to Kircher's time, and is particularly valuable for both its engraved plates of musical instruments and its inclusion of extensive musical examples, many of which are complete 16th and 17th century works chosen to illustrate various styles. The work is widely considered to have been a great success, with Kircher's wide-ranging and insightful scholarship. "... Musurgia universalis, one of the really influential works of music theory, was drawn upon by almost every later German music theorist until well into the 18th century...""... Much of Kircher's contrapuntal doctrine derives from Zarlino, and in this and some other respects Musurgia universalis presents a synthesis of 16th- and 17th-century Italian and German compositional practices. A specifically German feature, however, is the description of the affective nature of music, in which Kircher brought the concept of musica pathetica into relation with the formal constructive elements of rhetorical doctrine..." "... His ideas concerning the classification of musical styles, based on sociological as well as national characteristics, are also original and important for the study of Baroque music... Although he was apparently not a practising musician he was able to identify the best music composed and performed in his own (and earlier) times. In Musurgia universalis he quoted frequently extensive music examples from composers such as Agazzari, Gregorio Allegri, Carissimi, Froberger, Gesualdo, Kapsberger, Domenico Mazzocchi and Morales. Other aspects of his treatise that contribute to an understanding of 17th-century musical thought include the lengthy discussions of acoustics, musical instruments..., the history of music in ancient cultures and the therapeutic value of music." George J. Buelow in Grove onlineCopies of this monumental work are often found to be lacking one or more plates and, in addition, are usually quite trimmed. The present copy is complete and has good margins throughout. Arguably the most spectacular 17th century book on music; a cornerstone of the literature.

Item ID: 19201


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