London: T. Payne and Son, 1776.
5 volumes. Quarto. Full contemporary dark tan tree calf, spines in decorative compartments gilt with black title labels gilt, decorative edges gilt.
Vol. I: 1f. (recto half-title, verso blank), 1f. (recto blank, verso fine full page frontispiece by Grignion after Cipriani), 1f. (recto title, verso blank), 1f. (recto dedication to George the Third, verso blank), 3ff. (Preface), lxxxiv, 465, [i] (blank) pp. + 5 full-page engraved plates.
Vol. II: 1f. (recto half-title, verso blank), 1f. (recto title, verso blank), 544 pp.
Vol. III: 1f. (recto half-title, verso blank), 1f. (recto title, verso blank), 535, [i] pp.
Vol. IV: 1f. (recto half-title, verso blank), 1f. (recto title, verso blank), 548 pp.
Vol. V: 1f. (recto half-title, verso blank), 1f. (recto half title, verso blank), 482,  (index), [i] errata pp.
With numerous portraits, extended musical examples,circular engraved portraits, illustrations of musical instruments, and diagrams throughout, some engraved.
Bindings slightly worn, rubbed, and bumped; some joints tender or slightly splitting; endpapers slightly stained; remnants of dark green silk ribbon marker; edges faded. Some foxing, light browning, and minor staining; some offsetting; a few minor paper imperfections. A very good, fresh, wide-margined copy overall.
First Edition. Cortot p. 94. Wolffheim II 207. Hirsch I Anhang 30. Gregory-Bartlett p. 119. RISM BVI p. 399.
"For many years, Hawkins had been accumulating material for a General History of the Science and Practice of Music, mainly from his own research in the British Museum (from October 1761 to May 1775); from his own extensive collection of manuscripts, which now included much of Pepusch’s library (he probably acquired it in 1763); from the Bodleian and college libraries at Oxford and Cambridge; from the private libraries of John Stafford Smith and William Boyce; and from information supplied by Horace Walpole, the Rev. William Gostling (son of the famous bass John Gostling), George Steevens, the Duchess of Portland and others. Hawkins was engaged for 16 years on his mammoth task ... published complete in November 1776, almost seven months after the publication of the first volume of Charles Burney’s rival history ..."
" ... in general Hawkins amazed his contemporaries by his erudition and discernment ..."
" ... A comparison of the histories by Burney and Hawkins is inevitable, although they are complementary rather than conflicting. Hawkins’s contains valuable information about early 18th-century musical society in London, largely collected from survivors of the period, and emphasizes the achievement of 16th- and early 17th-century composers, who were treated condescendingly by Burney. Burney, on the other hand, had a considerably greater knowledge and insight into European musical trends and society and his musical analyses are technically superior to those of Hawkins. His literary style also was celebrated for its grace and wit, qualities which Hawkins lacked; and his work was better organized than Hawkins’s. In many respects, however, Hawkins was a pioneer, to whose work Burney owed a great deal although he publicly ignored Hawkins’s accomplishment ... Some sections of Burney's History are, in fact, based in whole or part on Hawkins's work." Percy A. Scholes in Grove Music Online.
A cornerstone of the literature.
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