London: Printed by T.S. [Snodham] for John Browne, and are to be sold in St. Dunstans Churchyard in Fleet Street, 1621.
Small quarto (22.9 x 17 cm). Modern half dark brown calf with light brown marbled boards, titling gilt to spine in gilt-ruled compartments. 1f. (recto title within decorative architectural arch, verso blank), 1f. (recto dedication "To the Right Honorable, and judicious Favorer of all good Arts and Learning, George, Marquesse of Buckingham," verso blank), 12 pp. typeset music in diamond-head notation.
The work consists of eighteen masque dances of 5 parts numbered 1-18; three pieces of 5 parts "For Cornets and Sagbuts [!sackbuts]" numbered again 18-20; and ten pieces of 6 parts most probably for these same instruments numbered 1-10. Cantus part only.
Boards slightly scuffed; flyleaves slightly worn and soiled with several small holes, margins slightly chipped with minor loss and some archival repairs. Minor internal wear and soiling; title slightly worn and soiled with small archival repairs to upper portion, outer margin, and lower corner.
First Edition. Very rare. BUC I p. 8. OCLC (no original sources; computer files and microforms only). RISM A/I/I A326 (5 copies only, 4 of which are in the UK, 2 complete and 2 incomplete; 1 incomplete copy in Ireland; no copies in the U.S. or elsewhere). Jisc (complete copies at the British Library and the Bodleian). Rare Book Hub (no records of the present work being sold at auction).
"I have long served that Excellent Mistriss,, and Maiden-Science of Musicke: and to testifie, that I no more scorne to weare her Livery in publique, thewn to honour her in my heart; I have here published to the generall Eye, this my service towards her. They are all (for the most part) Courtly Masquing Ayres, framed onely for Instruments; of which kinde, these are the first that have beene ever Printed: At which, should any curious Carper cast his venome, I will only stop his mouth with his owne Ignorance." From Adson's dedication
An English wind player and composer, Adson may have been employed as a musician in the household of the Duke of Buckingham, George Villiers, to whom the collection is dedicated, at the time of publication of the present work; he became a royal court musician on 4 November 1623.
"Adson is best known for the collection Courtly Masquing Ayres ... which he dedicated to the Duke of Buckingham, a frequent and enthusiastic masquer. It consists of 31 lively dances for ‘violins, consorts [mixed ensembles] and cornets’, and divides into three sections. The first 18 pieces seem to be genuine masque dances (14 have concordances in masque sources), using the five-part single-soprano scoring associated with violin bands. The next three pieces, also in five parts, are marked ‘for cornets and sackbuts’, while the remainder are probably intended for the same instruments, since they use the six-part scoring with two sopranos associated with wind bands. It has been generally assumed that the collection is Adson's own work, but he did not have a court appointment when he published it, so the masque dances, at least, are likely to be his versions of pieces originally composed by royal musicians. Only four other pieces by him are known: a six-part air with one part missing (GB-Cfm Mu.734), two two-part corants (US-NH Filmer 3), and the bass part of another corant (GB-Ob Mus. Sch.D.220)." Peter Holman in Grove Music Online
"Adson was among the 'twelve of the kings servants for the loud musique' who played in the second music chariot in the procession before the second performance of the Inns of Court masque The Triumph of Peace on 13 Feb 1633/4. ... Adson's association with the King's Company, who played both at the Blackfriars and Globe Theatres, is confirmed by two references to him in plays performed by that company. He took the minor role of an invisible spirit in Thomas Heywood and Richard Brome's The Late Lancashire Witches ... (1634), and his music is referred to, in a playfully derogatory manner, in William Cavendish's The Country Captain ... (1639-40)." Ashbee, Lasocki, Holman, and Kisby: A Biographical Dictionary of English Court Musicians 1485-1715, pp. 8-9.
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