Phalèse’s Bookshelves

A series on the sources of the publications with lute music by the 16th century printer Phalèse.
– Phalèse’s Bookshelves
Phalèse and Attaingnant

Pierre Phalèse the elder (ca 1505 – ca 1573) published his first anthology of lute music in Louvain in 1545. It was called Des chansons reduictz en tablature de lut and contained an explanation of the rudiments of music theory, lute tablature and playing technique, six instrumental preludes with a didactic character and two branles. But the main part of the book was devoted to arrangements of vocal polyphony, 37 pieces in total. This book of lute tablatures was the first of many publications devoted to lute music by Phalèse the elder and his son, also named Pierre (ca 1545 – 1629), who would later take his father’s printing firm to Antwerp. After the death of Phalèse the younger his two daughters Madeleine and Marie took over the family business, which would slowly fall into decline with the rise of Amsterdam in the course of the 17th century.

The content of the first publication by Phalèse became exemplary for his later anthologies. Over a thirty year period, the Phalèse firm printed more than 1000 lute pieces, 140 of which were preludes and fantasias, some 200 were dances and about 600 were intabulations of vocal music. But none of the Phalèses is known to have played the lute, or to have composed for the instrument. Instead, many of the pieces in their books are taken from existing publications from other publishers, though a number of the intabulations are original, notably the pieces in the third book of Des chansons reduictz en tablature de lut (1547) of which the intabulator is known by name: Pierre di Teghi of Padua.

However, my interest is in the pieces pirated from other publications, as these pieces have a story to tell. They can show us how Phalèse valued the lute publications in 16th century Europe. Which books of lute music did he like, which pieces did he choose? Which composers were popular, and which pieces were printed again and again? And if there are differences between the originals and Phalèse’s printed versions, did he just make mistakes in copying, or is there a pattern in his changes? In an earlier article I already pointed to a case were Phalèse used cut-and-paste techniques to make a pastiche of two different intabulations of Arcadelt’s madrigal Quand’io penso al martir’.(footnote 1) Even more fascinating is the tantalizing prospect that by looking at the pieces that cannot be attributed to known publications, we might be able to identify music from currently lost books of lute music, like Petrucci’s elusive third book of lute music from 1508: Intabulaturo di Lauto, Libro Tertio by Giovan Maria.

Here is an overview of all publications with music for lute or related instruments by the Phalèse firm. The titles are preceded by their identification in Brown.(footnote 2)
• 1545-3 Des chansons reduictz en tablature de lut… livre premier (Louvain, 1545)
• 1546-18 Des chansons reduictz en tablature de lut… livre deuxieme (Louvain, 1546)
• 1546-19 Carminum qua Chely vel Testidune … Liber Secundus (Louvain, 1546) This is 1546-18 with title page and preface in Latin.
• 1546-20 Carminum pro Testudine Liber IIII (Louvain, 1546) Later reprinted as 1573-8
• 1547-7 Des chansons reduictz en tablature de lut… livre premier (Louvain, 1547) This is a revised edition of 1545-3
• 1547-8 Carminum qua Chely vel Testidune … Liber Primus (Louvain, 1547) This is the same book as 1545-3, but now with Latin title page and preface.
• 1547-9 Des Chansons & Motetz Reduictz en Tablature de Luc … Pierre di Teghi Paduan … Livre Troixiesme (Louvain, 1547)
• 1547-10 Carminum ad Testudinis usum compositorum Liber Tertius (Louvain, 1547) This is the same book as 1547-9, but now with Latin title page and preface.
• 1547-11 Des Chansons Gaillardes, Paduanes & Motetz, reduitz en Tabulature de Luc … Livre Cinquiesme (Louvain, 1547)
• 1547-12 Carminum pro Testudine (Louvain, 1547) This is the same book as 1547-11, but now with Latin title page and preface.
• 1549-8 Carminum qua Chely vel Testidune (Louvain, 1549) This is the third revised edition of 1545-3
• 1552-11 Hortus Musarum (Louvain, 1552)
• 1553-10 Horti Musarum Secunda Pars (Louvain, 1553)
• 1563-12 Theatrum Musicum (Louvain, 1563)
• 1568-7 Luculentum Theatrum Musicum (Louvain, 1568)
• 1575-7 Hortus Cytharae (Louvain, 1575) Music for cittern. Now lost. The content was probably the same as 1570-3.
• 1584-6 Emanuel Adriansen: Pratum Musicum (Antwerp, 1584)

The Phalèse printing firm also worked together with Jean Bellère in the publication of books with music for lute, cittern and 4-course guitar. Fruits of these co-operations are:
• 1570-3 Hortus Cytharae (Antwerp, 1570) Music for 4-course cittern.
• 1570-4 Selectissima Elegantissimaque (Antwerp, 1570) Music for 4-course Renaissance guitar.
• 1571-6 Theatrum Musicum, Longe Amplissimum (Antwerp, 1571)
• 1573-5 Cantionum Gallicarum (Antwerp, 1573) This is the same book as 1547-9, but now with Latin title page and preface.
• 1573-7 Selectissima carmina (Antwerp, 1573) Two volumes of guitar music. Now lost, but perhaps they never existed.
• 1573-8 Selectissimorum Pro Testudine Carminum (Antwerp, 1573) The same content as 1546-20.
• 1573-9 Thesaurus Musicus (Antwerp, 1573) Now lost. Possibly the first edition of 1574-7.
• 1574-7 Thesaurus Musicus (Antwerp, 1574)
• 1575-6 Des Chansons Réduitz en tablature de lut (Louvain, 1575) Now lost. Content was probably 1545-3.
• 1582-5 Hortulus Citharae Vulgaris (Antwerp, 1582) Music for cittern.
• 1592-6 Emanuel Adriansen: Novum Pratum Musicum (Antwerp, 1592)

This is quite a list. The first thing we notice is that many books were reprinted, sometimes with a Latin title and preface instead of a French one, perhaps appealing to a more international market (1545-19, 1547-8, 1547-10, 1547-12) and sometimes in a revised edition with a few alterations to the content (1547-7, 1549-8). Reprints were not always the result of good sales of the first editions. The 1547-9 and 1546-20 editions for example did not sell well at all. So in 1573 Phalèse decided to print new title pages, use that for his leftovers from nearly 30 years ago and sell these as new publications. This is how 1573-5 and 1573-8 came into this list as ‘new’ publications. In the early years Phalèse printed his own anthologies and in later years he printed the two collections by Emanuel Adriansen. All these publications borrowed many of their pieces from other books with lute music not printed by Phalèse.

With the above list as a guide, I intend to have a good look at what was on Phalèse’s bookshelves. I will report my findings, each time focusing on a piece, a composer or a particular publication, in this series called Phalèse’s Bookshelves.

Footnote 1) David van Ooijen: Morlaye, Paladin, Phalèse – Two Pastiches. LSA Quarterly Volume XXXXII, No. 2 May 2007.
Footnote 2) Howard Mayer Brown: Instrumental Music Printed Before 1600 (Harvard University Press, 1965. Reprinted by 1999).

David van Ooijen

This article first appeared in Nostalgia, the news letter of the Lute & Early Guitar Society of Japan.