A General History of Music, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Period. To which is prefixed, A Dissertation on the Music of the Ancients ... Volume The First [Second, Third, Fourth]. Charles BURNEY.
A General History of Music, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Period. To which is prefixed, A Dissertation on the Music of the Ancients ... Volume The First [Second, Third, Fourth].

A General History of Music, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Period. To which is prefixed, A Dissertation on the Music of the Ancients ... Volume The First [Second, Third, Fourth].

London: Printed for the Author: And sold by T. Becket, Strand; J. Robson, New Bond-Street; and G. Robinson, Paternoster-Row, 1776.

Four volumes. Quarto. Full dark brown tree calf, light brown spines with dark red leather title label and black volume label gilt, decorative edges gilt.

With numerous illustrative plates, some depicting musical instruments, diagrams and musical examples throughout, some in engraved and some in within text.

Vol. I
1f. (recto title, verso blank), [iii]-v (dedication to the Queen), [vi] (blank), xx ("Preface"), 5ff. (list of subscribers), 1f. ("Contents"), 495, [i] (blank), [497]-516; [517] ("A List and Description of the Plates to Vol. I")-522, 1f. (recto "Errata" and "Directions to the Book-Binder," verso blank) pp. With engraved plates numbered I frontispiece by Bartolozzi after Ciprani; II by Bartolozzi after Ciprani; III by Bartolozzi after Cipriani; IV by Grignion; V by Maleuvre; VI by Maleuvre; [Figure] VII (folding woodcut); and VIII The Theban Harp. With 3 notes on small slips of paper in contemporary manuscript tipped-in between pp. 10/11, 20/21, and 22/23.

Vol. II
Printed for the Author: And sold by J. Robson, New Bond-Street; and G. Robinson, Paternoster-Row, 1782
1f. (recto title, verso blank), 1f. ("Contents"), 597, [i] (blank) pp., 5ff. ("Index"). With an engraved frontispiece by Cipriani and 2 engraved plates.

Vol. III
Printed for the Author: And sold by Payne and Son, at the Mews-Gate; Robson and Clark, Bond-Street; and G.G.J. and J. Robinson, Paternoster Row, 1789
1f. (recto title, verso blank), 1f. ("Contents"), [v]-xi ("Essay on Musical Criticism"), [i] (blank), 622 pp., 6ff. ("Index" and "Errata"). With an engraved frontispiece by Bartolozzi after E.F. Burney

Vol. IV
Printed for the Author: And sold by Payne and Son, at the Mews-Gate; Robson and Clark, Bond-Street; and G.G.J. and J. Robinson, Paternoster-Row, 1789
1f. (recto title, verso blank), 1f. ("Contents"), 12 ("Essay on the Euphony or Sweetness of Languages, and their Fitness for Music"), [13]-685, [i] (blank) pp., [687]-688 ("Chronological List of the principal Books published on the Subject of Music in England, during the present Century.") pp.,. 6ff. ("Index"), 1f. (recto "Errata," verso blank). With a fine half-length engraved frontispiece portrait by Bartolozzi after Sir Joshua Reynolds of Burney holding a leaf of music.

Bindings slightly worn, rubbed, and bumped; rebacked and recornered; edges faded; hinges reinforced with dark brown tape. Light uniform browning; occasional spotting, dampstaining, and offsetting; Vol. I with some underlining and markings in pencil, folding plate creased; other very minor imperfections. Some mispagination, but complete.

An attractive, clean, crisp and wide-margined copy overall.

First Edition of this first history of music in the English language. Gregory-Sonneck p. 47. Hirsch I Anhang 16 (Volume I in second edition). Cortot pp. 41-42. RISM BVI p. 190.

The extensive list of subscribers contains the names of numerous notable persons including Dr. Samuel Johnson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Jean Jacques Rousseau, David Garrick, Lady Hamilton, Metastasio, Thomas Dibdin, Padre Martini, Dr. North, and John Hawkins as well as members of royalty and Lords and Ladies.

Composers listed include Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Hasse, Marpurg, Piccinni, Arnold, William Boyce, Farinelli, Galuppi, Giardini, William Hayes, John Stanley, Hiller, Guadagnini, and "the late Signor Jomelli of Naples."

It is interesting to note that the list also includes the names of 97 women.

"Three years in the writing, the first volume of Burney's General History of Music was published in 1776, two years later than proposed. He barely succeeded in his ambition to beat to publication the history of music written by Sir John Hawkins. However, Hawkins published his complete five-volume history at one time, whereas it was to take Burney until 1789 to complete his task. Contemporary reviews cast the books as rivals and the relative merits of the two histories have been in debate continuously since. Burney's initial volume enjoyed immediate success and very positive reviews, some of which Burney contrived to manipulate to ensure favourable comment. The second volume of the History was delayed by a relaxing of Burney's ambition, partly because he enjoyed his earlier successes and because of his distaste for the Gothic music that was his subject; it did not appear until 1782. The volume was a critical success, nevertheless, and drew notable attention because its publication coincided with the publication of Cecelia by his daughter Fanny. Work on the third volume of the History was interrupted by Burney's involvement with the Handel Commemoration of 1784. He was appointed official historian of the event, which caused him considerable difficulty and expense. He found himself in the hands of the exclusive admirers of Handel, who expected him to surrender all of his earnings to the charitable fund that was the beneficiary of the event. As a result of the direct intervention of the king, and others whom Burney could not afford to offend, the essays on Handel and his music in the Account of the Commemoration of Handel do not always reflect his honest critical opinion."

"In 1789, at the age of 63, Burney published the third and fourth volumes of his History. A new, somewhat revised, edition of the first volume was also published, enabling the purchase of all four volumes (the first volume had gone out of print many years earlier). The completed work, though inevitably compared with that of Hawkins, was favourably received..."

"...Burney's Tours and the General History of Music remain wellsprings of observation and insight into 18th-century musical life and practice. The History remains an impressive, if inconsistent, work of great value even after more than 200 years of specialized scholarship. The distinguishing mark of Burney's history, in comparison to that of Hawkins, is his greater familiarity and interest in contemporary music and his skill in addressing the general reader. Burney intended his work to be a distinctively English history of music directed to improving the taste of his readers. He wrote for a specific audience and sought the help of his collaborators, particularly Thomas Twinning (1735–1804) as much to assist him with the literary and general interest aspects of his work as with its musical content. The extensive treatment of Handel in the fourth volume of the History is the result both of Burney being granted access to the king's great collection of Handel manuscripts and of his catering to the general enthusiasm for Handel's music that dominated English taste for many years." Kerry S. Grant in Grove Music Online.

Item #34216

Price: $1,650.00  other currencies

See all items in Books
See all items by