In 1986 the University of Virginia came into possession of an important collection of early modern French literature. The collection includes a single musical item: a tenor partbook without title page or colophon that clearly formed part of a published collection of French chansons. Considerable investigation has revealed the partbook to be the long-lost tenor part from Il primo libro de le canzoni franzese published in Venice by Ottaviano Scotto in 1535, and reprinted the following year. Its reappearance allows us to add seven pieces to the early chanson repertory, including two by Adrian Willaert, that have been hitherto available only in incomplete state. The article tells the story of how this identification was made, and reports on the partbook’s owners in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It also summarizes both the musical style of the volume’s contents, and the chansonnier’s importance for the early history of the Parisian chanson in the years prior to and contemporaneous with Attaingnant’s establishment of the genre’s classic characteristics.


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pp. 35-61
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