London: John Walsh ... No. 490, [ca. 1736, ca. 1733]. First Edition.
Two volumes in one. Oblong folio. Half mid-tan calf with 18th century marbled boards, raised bands on spine with dark red leather title label gilt.
Vol. I: 1f. (recto decorative calligraphic printed title, verso blank), [i] (blank), 94, [i] (blank) pp. First Edition, 4th issue. Smith p. 250, no. 6. Hoboken 5, 171, RISM H1433.
Vol. II: 1f. (recto calligraphic printed title, verso blank), [i] (blank), 2-83, [i] (blank) pp. First Edition, [?]first issue. Smith p. 249, no. 5. Hoboken 5, 173. RISM H1438.
Engraved throughout. With the attractive contemporary engraved bookplate of John Wiltshire, Bath, by Skinner after Ross to front pastedown.
Binding slightly worn, bumped, and stained; pastedowns browned at corners and free endpapers worn and creased, with minor loss and tape repair to lower outer margin of free front endpaper. Slightly worn; light uniform browning; very small binder's holes to inner margins; title of Vol. I somewhat browned, a bit more heavily to corners, with several very small edge tears; Vol. II with light vertical slash/crease to p. 2, small ink spot to p. 39, and small pencilled "X' to p. 69.
A very good, crisp copy overall of a lifetime edition of Handel's celebrated keyboard suites.
"The most important volume among the early printed collections of keyboard music is Handel’s own issue of Suites de Pieces pour le Clavecin … Première Volume, which appeared in November 1720. In a preface Handel explained that he had been ‘obliged to publish some of the following Lessons because surrepticious and incorrect copies of them had got abroad’ – apparently a reference to a pirated edition of keyboard pieces prepared by Walsh and issued under the imprint of Jeanne Roger of Amsterdam about the same time. (It is not clear whether the Roger volume actually appeared before Handel’s own.) The eight suites of the 1720 set draw upon the keyboard works of both the Hamburg and English periods, but many movements were revised, five of the fugues were included in the suites and seven new movements were added. Handel supervised the publication: emendations made to the plates at proof stage and visible in some copies can only have been the composer’s. The varied origins of the music make the collection a microcosm of Handel’s stylistic eclecticism." Anthony Hicks in Grove Music Online.
"Possibly as a result of these lessons, keyboard music by Handel began to circulate in manuscript and within two years he was obliged to publish his own edition of Suites de Pièces de Clavecin (preferring the French title to the normal 'Harpsichord Lessons') with the preliminary note:
I have been obliged to publish some of the following Lessons, because surrepticious and incorrect Copies of them had got Abroad. I have added several new ones to make the work more usefull, which if it meets with a favourable Reception; I will still proceed to publish more, reckoning it my duty, with my Small Talent, to serve a Nation from which I have receiv'd so Generous a protection.
Amongst these suites is the set of variations to which the nineteenth century attached the title of 'The Harmonious Blacksmith,' a mythical melodist said to have been resident at Whitchurch, close to Cannons." Hogwood: Handel, pp. 74-75.
Price: $3,200.00 other currencies