The chansonnier in the University Library of Uppsala, the MS Vokalmusik i Handskrift 76a, is a musical source which has attracted far less attention from musicology than it deserves. During the last couple of years, however, interest seems to be renewed as suggested by publications by Isabel Kraft and Joshua Rifkin. This inspired me to take a look at my old papers on the MS and finally to publish selected elements from them using the present online medium.
I first heard about the then totally unknown MS early in 1982 by way of Howard Mayer Brown’s first article (Brown 1982). Shortly afterwards during the IMS conference in Strasbourg in September I was lucky to meet Brown who very kindly put me up to date on his research and sent me unpublished papers on the MS. And later the same year I spent a very productive period of research in Uppsala. This activity was an extension of my work on another, slightly later French musical source in the Royal Library in Copenhagen. My research on Uppsala 76a was finally published as a very short chapter at the end of my dissertation French Music in the Early Sixteenth Century. Studies in the music collection of a copyist of Lyons. The manuscript Ny kgl. Samling 1848 2° in the Royal Library, Copenhagen I-III. Copenhagen 1994 (Christoffersen 1994), Vol. I, pp. 325-334, which was meant as a supplement to Howard Mayer Brown's magistral article ‘A “New” Chansonnier of the early Sixteenth Century in the University Library of Uppsala: A Preliminary Report’, Musica disciplina 37 (1983), pp. 171-233 (Brown 1983b). The description, the list of contents etc in this online publication is a slightly revised version of my dissertation chapter.
The chance to broadcast the music of Uppsala 76a to a greater public arose when the Danish Radio agreed to make a studio production of a selection of its songs. On October 16, 1985, the following programme was recorded in Studio 2 of The Danish Radio:
Hayne van Ghizeghem, »Allez regrets, vuidez de ma presence« 3v (Uppsala 76a no. 1)
Anonymous, »Quant je fuz prins au pavillon« 3v (no. 7)
Alexander Agricola, »Gardez vous bien de ce fauveau« 3v (no. 53)
Anonymous, »Dame, venez moy secourir« 2v (no. 42)
Anonymous, »Adieu toute joyeuseté« 3v (no. 50)
Anonymous, »Adieu Soulas, tous Plaisirs et Liesse« 4v (no. 33)
Anonymous, »Faulces Amors, Dieu vous maudie« 4v (no. 32)
Antoine de Fevin, »Je le lairray puisqu’il my bat« 3v (no. 43)
Antoine Riche [Divitis], »Mon cueur est tant bien assis« 3v (no. 36)
Anonymous, »Pensez de faire garnison« 3v (no, 39)
Anonymous, »Kirie – Langentibus in purgatorio« 2v (no. 66)
Anonymous, »La gasquona« 1v (no. 71)
Anonymous, »Las que fera la povre desoulee« poem (1v - no. 78)
Loyset Compere, »Vive le noble roy de France« 3v (no. 49)
The music was performed by the Ensemble Charneyron, which was active during the years 1984-91. The members at this occasion were: Agnethe Christensen, Jørgen Schou-Pedersen, and Henrik Lund Pedersen (singers), Eva Feldbæk (harp), and Peter Woetmann Christoffersen (viol, leader).
The radio programme, which was transmitted in June 1986, included my presentation of the manuscript, its music and environment, and – in addition to the performances of the music – some poems were recited in 15th century French by Svend Hendrup and in Danish by the programme’s producer Hans Peter Larsen. This shows that there really was a time when the Danish Radio had the courage and financial security to support such projects presenting music totally outside the standard repertory, and this was only the first of several projects – it is an experience I recall with great pleasure.
Some of the transcriptions and the editorial work for the radio production and for research were subsequently put into use as part of the ensemble's core repertory, while others have just collected dust since then. I have now transferred my old pencilled music sheets into a digital format, controlled the transcriptions against the sources and brought the commentary somewhat up to date. I have omitted the ‘hits’ from earlier generations, which form a substantial part of the MS’ repertory, but have retained some contemporary hit-songs which today are not as well-known as they deserve, for example Agricola’s »Gardez vous bien de ce fauveau« or Fevin’s »Je le lairray«.
Abbreviations in the following discussions consisting of an author’s name followed by a year refer to the Bibliography. Comments and translations of some text are linked to the song titles in the lists on the opening page and on the page describing the contents of the MS; to get to the scores in PDF-format you have to click on the titles in the songs’ individual pages.