2.00 pm, Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BS (opposite the Royal Albert Hall. Nearest tube: South Kensington).
Anne Boleyn's Music Book. Photo by Chris Christodoulou
This event celebrates one of the RCM’s greatest treasures, the ‘Anne Boleyn Music Book’, which is one of the most significant books of Renaissance music in Britain. The book contains what appears to be the authentic signature of Anne Boleyn, who may have acquired it while serving as a maid of honour in the household of Margaret of Austria, with whom she moved to live at the French court when Margaret married Louis XII. It was acquired by the Royal College of Music at its foundation in 1883, when the book was part of the vast collection of about 5,000 volumes of music acquired from the recently disbanded Sacred Harmonic Society. The book is modest in size (about the size of a paperback book), beautifully hand-written, and contains music by some of Europe’s most famous composers. It has recently been disassembled, restored and rebound, allowing far-reaching new research to be carried out through examination of its paper, decorations and scribal hands and for fresh research on its musical contents; a magnificent facsimile edition, complete with scholarly essays and detailed critical apparatus is also currently in production.
September’s event at the Royal College of Music will mark the first public outing of the newly-bound manuscript and the launch of the new facsimile edition. There will be short talks by three of the UK’s leading experts in the field: Prof. Iain Fenlon (University of Cambridge); Prof. Thomas Schmidt (University of Manchester) and Dr David Skinner (University of Cambridge); a performance of some of the music from the book by the superb professional ensemble, Alamire (director, David Skinner); and a display of the new high resolution digital images of the manuscript. Copies of the facsimile and also of the CD recording of the complete contents, performed by Alamire, will be on sale.
This unique event marks the 50th anniversary of the Society for Renaissance Studies.
The conservation and publication was made possible through the generous support of The Cayzer Trust Company Limited and The Hon. Mrs Gilmour with additional support from the Society for Renaissance Studies.
Admission is free, but booking is essential. Tickets available from the Royal College of Music box office.