Barcelona Songbook


The musical sources that have come down to us from the Renaissance are mostly collections of polyphonic songs, works that collect the repertoire of the time and that bear witness to the confluence of several cultures. Well-known songbooks include those associated with the Palacio, with the Duke of Calabria (also called the Uppsala Songbook), with Montecasino, and, in this case, with Barcelona. Cançoner de Barcelona (Songbook of Barcelona), manuscript M 454 in the Biblioteca de Catalunya, is the most important Renaissance musical source from the court of Aragon and one of the most prominent repertoires of the musical heritage of Europe. Its 190 sheets contain about 127 religious and secular compositions by Catalan, Spanish, and Franco-Flemish composers from the late 15th to the mid-16th centuries. These composers include Francisco de Peñalosa, Antoine de Févin, Jean Mouton, Johannes Martini, Gaspar van Weerbeke, Mateo Flecha, Johannes Ockeghem, Juan de Anchieta, Antoine de Busnoys (or Busnois), Noel Bauldeweyn, Cubells, Alonso de Mondéjar, Jacob Obrecht, Johannes Ghiselin-Verbonet, Lope de Baena, Josquin des Prez, Loyset Compère, Johannes Wreede (Juan de Urrede), Quexada (or Quixada), Clément Janequin, Nicolaus Craen, Cristóbal de Morales, Juan del Encina, and Pedro de Pastrana. Barcelona was the entry point for musicians coming to the Iberian Peninsula, and visits by musical chapels – such as that by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1519−56) – contributed to the presence of the Franco-Flemish repertoire in Catalonia. More than 30 copysts took part in the compilation of the Cançoner de Barcelona. Interestingly, the book was enlarged from the central core to the outside part. The binding is made of wood, covered by leather with metallic fasteners. In the middle of 20th century, the manuscript was restored to counter the effects of the ink on the paper. Several hands were involved in writing the sheets included here. The work came to the Biblioteca de Catalunya in the collection of the bibliophile Joan Carreras i Dagas (1828–1900). The musicologist Felip Pedrell (1841−1922) assigned the number 961 to it and described it in the second volume of the library catalogue, published in 1909.

Last updated: January 13, 2015