London: John Johnson, 1757.
8 volumes. Folio. Uniformly bound in brown cloth-backed marbled boards, dark red leather spine labels with titling gilt. Engraved throughout.
v. 1: [xxiv], 130,  pp. – v. 2: [x], 131,  pp. – v. 3: [xii], 144,  pp. – v. 4: [x], 154,  pp. – v. 5: [x], 123,  pp. – v. 6: [x], 127,  pp. – v. 7: [x], 148,  pp. – v. 8: [x], 150,  pp. Each volume with engraved dedication to the Bishop of Durham, Royal Privilege, list of subscribers, and English translation of original preface. Volume 1 includes "Memoirs of the Life of Benedetto Marcello" and "Remarks on the Psalms of Marcello" by Charles Avison.
Subscribers include composers Charles Avison, Dr. William Boyce, and John Stanley, as well as city organists, various lords and ladies, etc., for a total of 125.
Letter laid down to flyleaf presenting the volumes to a "Mr. Vaughan," signed "S Groombridge," and dated Blackheath, 28 November 1811 (the astronomer Stephen Groombridge 1755-1832). A later note to letter in ink provides brief biographical notes matching that of tenor Thomas Vaughan (1782-1843).
Ex libris King's College Library, Cambridge, with ownership and withdrawn handstamps to versos of titles.
Bindings slightly worn and bumped. Occasional small stains, not affecting music; scattered light foxing. Vol. 1 in slightly larger format. Overall, an attractive set in very good condition.
First English edition. RISM M 426. BUC, p. 647.
Benedetto Marcello came from a noble Venetian family and spent his career in a variety of official administrative posts. Even though none of his positions was related to music, he was highly influential in Italian music, and his desire for simplicity anticipated the classical period by decades.
Marcello's settings of the first fifty Psalms were first published in Venice in 1724-1726 as Estro poetico-armonico. As he writes in his preface, Marcello wanted to strip clear the excessive ornamentation and return to psalmody's origins. Many of the psalm settings include melodies taken from Greek and Hebrew sources.
Composer and organist John Garth (1721-1810) worked on the English version with his friend and collaborator Charles Avison (1709-1770), a noted concerto composer. Garth and Avison established a Marcello Society in Newcastle as well as a series of subscription concerts in Durham.
Thomas Vaughan was a famous English tenor who sang with the Westminster Abbey Choir for nearly 40 years. He was also a featured soloist in numerous concerts, including the British premiere of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in 1825. Stephen Groombridge was an accomplished astronomer, making detailed observations of circumpolar stars, as well as a dedicated music patron.
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