- The Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscript by Guillaume de Machaut
As a result of the widespread acceptance and use of digitization, coupled with the ever-increasing and prohibitive costs of publishing, the production of hard-copy music facsimiles has become increasingly rare. There still exist manuscripts of music, however, that are either so inaccessible or so important, that a justifiable case can be made for a publisher to go to the trouble and expense of producing a facsimile edition of them. The Ferrell-Vogüé manuscript of Guillaume de Machaut (ca. 1300–1377), hereinafter referred to by its scholarly siglum, Vg, is such a manuscript. Inaccessible to scholars for nearly its entire modern history, it is now available from the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music Publications (DIAMM) in a superb color facsimile accompanied by an excellent introductory study written by the Machaut specialist Lawrence Earp, with additional chapters contributed by the cultural property law scholar Carla Shapreau and the medieval art historian Dominic Leo.
Toward the end of his life, Machaut seems to have supervised the creation of several manuscripts of his works, each one generally containing all of the poetry and music that he had written up to that time. Vg takes its place as the second of these six principal “complete works” manuscripts executed between 1350 and 1390, with its corpus of works having been written during the 1360s. It is therefore a very useful document for determining which of Machaut’s works were written later in the composer’s life. It is notable as the first Machaut manuscript to transmit the David double hocket (and to name it “Double hoquet”), as well as the first of the composer’s manuscripts to transmit the Messe de Nostre Dame (it is also the only manuscript to supply the Mass with that title). As if further justification for publishing Vg in facsimile were necessary, it should also be noted that its musical readings are extremely accurate—in fact, better than all of the other Machaut manuscripts, and perhaps better than any other musical manuscript produced during the fourteenth century.
The introductory study brings together everything that has been known about Vg, as well as much that is new. Chapter 1 is an extremely thorough description of the manuscript’s contents, its physical layout, and subsequent corrections and additions, with an abundance of helpful tables, all of which should be read with the facsimile at hand, which allows the many important observations Earp makes to become crystal clear. Earp has provisionally identified five text hands, with Earp’s hand “B” responsible [End Page 584] for over 80 percent of the manuscript. A single hand entered the musical readings of Vg. By comparing these hands to others found in royal court manuscripts of the time, Earp concludes that Vg was produced in the same orbit of scribes and illuminators working expressly for the king of France, Charles V.
In chapters 2 through 4, Earp traces the history of Vg, from its creation up until 1916 insofar as the extant documentation allows. Earp’s most exciting discovery is that Vg was in the library of Jean, Duke of Berry, by 1388 (pp. 35–44). Earp furthermore argues persuasively that Vg was originally intended for the duke, and that he was, in fact, its original owner. The evidence for the duke’s ownership of Vg is an addendum to a letter written by Violant (Yolande) of Bar, Queen of Aragon, to her...