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Panat Times

Volume 1, redone Dec. 2014


Volume 1


Orest's Pages

Patricia's Musings



Musical Rhetoric

Transcribed Sources


Discovered at the Lilly Library: manuscript "XLI,"  An autograph theoretical work by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (late 1698)

Part I: The volume at the Lilly Library and some clues to its provenance

First, I wish to express my gratitude to the Lilly Library of Indiana University at Bloomington, Indiana, for granting me “non-exclusive permission to publish 12 pages by Marc-Antoine Charpentier from Traité d’Accompagnement ...” to be “used on [my] website to prove that the author is Marc-Antoine Charpentier.”

“Proving” his authorship is at once a great honor and a heavy responsibility: I shall do my best!

The volume

Four separate documents — one of them the Charpentier autograph manuscript— are bound together in one volume owned by the Lilly Library. The call number is: Vault MT530.B73.

In 2000 the volume was purchased for the Lilly Library by the late Stephen Harris Cape. Not long after our meeting with Ms Williams, I wrote to Bruce McKittrick Rare Books about the provenance of the volume. Mr. McKittrick replied that he “purchased [it] in June 1999" from a “Bruxelles bookseller, now closed, who sometimes offered books that he had set aside for many years as well as material acquired more recently. ... I visited regularly and bought it when I saw it. It may have lain in the back room for half a century or more or just walked in the door.” I wish to thank Mr. McKittrick for this information, which reveals how and when the volume made its way to the New World, even if we remain in the dark about how and when it made the far shorter journey from Paris to Brussels. In our exchange, I mentioned how Fétis had absconded with musical manuscripts from the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and I wondered aloud whether that might explain how the Traité made its way to Bruxelles. Mr. McKittrick could shed no light on the question. Perhaps a specialist in Fétis one day will?

The volume is bound in the medium-brown leather that seventeenth-century French inventories call “veau,” and that the Lilly catalog describes as “contemporary mottled calf, with a red leather label on gilt spine.” The spine of the volume reads Traité d’accompagnement, a title based upon a clumsy hand-printed inscription on a blank page at the beginning of the treatise proper. The autograph pages by Charpentier follow immediately the Traité. Then come some printed pages, Borjon’s Traité de la musette. They are followed by a calligraphed “satire en proverbes figurez” titled Au Loup: it is dedicated to and signed: “Votre fille Helaine, ... 1695."

Near the very top of the blank endpaper inside the front cover, and very close to the fold, Orest Ranum noticed a small, unobtrusive inscription that apparently had been overlooked until then: “Le president Le Vayer.” The hand is typical of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. Le Vayer presumably was the collector or curieux to whom the volume belonged. Orest has identified him as Jean-Jacques Le Vayer de Marcilly, who became president in the Grand Conseil in 1720, when he was in his early forties. In 1725 Le Vayer purchased what came to be called the “Hôtel Le Vayer,” a property at 44 rue Gribeauval (just off the intersection of the rue du Bac and the boulevard Saint-Germain), then, as now, a quite prestigious neighborhood. Le Vayer died in 1740.(4)

The Charpentier manuscript

The pages in Charpentier’s hand are appended to the Traité without any explanation and no indication of the author. They are made of three folded and nested sheets of paper (known as "bifolia") that form a little notebook with 6 leaves and 12 sides. All sides are covered with writing. Charpentier had a term for these little homemade notebooks: cahiers (he spelled it “cahyers”); in English they are called “gatherings.” The paper used throughout this thin cahier is printed music paper with 12 staves per page, each stave being 115 mm wide, 8.5 mm high, and with 8.5 mm between each stave. It was easy to determine that the staves are printed, because imperfections on one or another staff recur in the same place, page after page.(5) The paper has no watermarks. The leaves of the Charpentier manuscript are somewhat smaller (264 mm by 190 mm) than the leaves of the Traité to which it is appended.

To bring these smaller leaves into conformity with the rest of the manuscript, someone (the eighteenth-century book-binder?) carefully inserted each leaf into a paper frame, respecting the central folds of the manuscript rather than taking the easier course of cutting the 3 bifolia sheets at the fold, to make 6 separate pieces of paper that would be easier to frame. This respect for the original is especially noticeable on folios 3 verso and 4 recto, the innermost of the 3 folded sheets, where words and music sometimes run across the center fold, from the left-hand page to the right-hand one. This makes it difficult to decipher some of the writing close to the spine, but these intact folds make it possible to assert that the order and integrity of the Charpentier pages have not been disturbed.

A letter in an outer margin is occasionally obscured by the paper frame, but in no instance is the meaning unclear. Here and there brief, scrawled comments were added. This is especially true for the final page. At least some of these annotations pre-date the insertion of the leaves into the frames: now and then a frame is glued on top of one or two of the letters in a comment. (Click here to see these addiitions.)

On folio 3 verso, Charpentier either made a mistake or else changed his mind: he therefore glued a small piece of this same ruled paper over the words he wanted to alter.(6) The patch was done so carefully that it would be easy to overlook when glancing hastily at the actual page, as one moves through the manuscript. In the process of correcting his first mistake, Charpentier erred again: he wrote “neufvieme,” and then corrected it to read “septieme.” The irregularly-shaped patch can be seen on the image of folio 3 verso (see part III of this Musing). it is in the upper left quadrant. It begins "La septieme est encore fort bien sauvée, and it ends elle seroit mal sauvée en 8."

Charpentier himself numbered the rectos of the six leaves of the cahier, leaving the versos numberless. This foliation, as well as the large "fin" on folio 6 verso (the final page), are proof that no folios or bifolia were removed or lost over the years.

 Dating the Lilly autograph

I had hoped to find watermarks that would permit dating the manuscript as being contemporary with one or another cahier in the Mélanges. That approach was quickly ruled out, because the paper has no watermarks. My momentary disappointment was soon replaced by joy. Charpentier himself — or rather, his musical hand — provided a precious clue to the dating.

C. Jane Gosine has convincingly demonstrated that Charpentier's hand changed over the years, and that he employed his third and last hand when he copied out his pieces for the Sainte-Chapelle.(7) This hand uses a quite modern treble clef that she calls "G clef 3," as contrasted with the treble clef that resembles a mirror-image S and that Charpentier began to use in the early 1680s and continued to employ throughout the Jesuit years. Gosine calls the latter clef "G clef 2." (For brevity, I will shorten the names of Charpentier's treble clefs to "G-1," "G-2," and "G-3.")

Charpentier used both clefs in manuscript "XLI." And he used them confusedly. That is to say, he clearly set out to use G-3; but this was a transitional moment in his musical hand. At the top of folio 2 recto, he reverted to G-2 for the first musical example on that page. Having made similar lapses on folios 2 verso, and again on folio 3 recto, he corrected these G-2's so that they would resemble his new G-3's. All went well for awhile, but he lapsed again on folio 4 verso; he corrected one of the lapses but not the other. Folio 5 verso brought yet another lapse, as did folio 6 recto. (Click here for more on these reworked G clefs.)

Charpentier’s G clefs of the 1690s

Charpentier's G clefs
(Courtesy Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana)

Charpentier had committed similar lapses back in 1680, when he was changing from clef G-1 to clef G-2.(8) Now, at the Sainte-Chapelle, he was going through a similar moment of transition as he copied out manuscript "XLI." The Minkoff facsimiles of the Charpentier Mélanges for 1698-1704 provide evidence about when the change occurred. A shift from G-2 to G-3 took place during the autumn of 1698.(9) In other words, Charpentier copied out the Lilly autograph shortly after becoming music master of the Sainte-Chapelle in late June 1698.

It is time to pause and summarize the findings thus far:

 The Lilly manuscript is indubitably in Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s own hand.

 It can be dated very precisely to the autumn of 1698.   


Continue to Part II      


    4. See François Bluche, L’origine des magistrats du Parlement de Paris au XVIIIe siècle, Mémoires, Sociétés historiques et archéologiques de Paris et Ile-de-France, 5-6 (1953-54), p. 284; Julien Rémy Pesche, Dictionnaire topographique, historique et statistique de la Sarthe (1836), p. 808; and Félix Rochegude, Promenades dans toutes les rues de Paris, 7e arrondissement (Paris, 1910), pp. 85-86.

    5. For printed music paper, see the several articles by Laurent Guillo, especially "Les papiers imprimés dans les Mélanges: relevés et hypothèses," pp. 37-54, in C. Cessac, ed., Les Manuscrits autographes de Marc-Antoine Charpentier (Wavre: Mardaga, 2007).

    6. On Charpentier's corrections and cross-outs, and for these "collettes," see Catherine Cessac, "Copie et composition: l'enseignement des ratures," in Les Manuscrits autographes, pp. 55-65.

    7. See Jane Gosine's "Correlations between Handwriting Changes and Revisions to Works within the Mélanges," in Les Manuscrits autographes, pp. 103-20; and her "Questions of Chronology in Marc-Antoine Charpentier's 'Meslanges Autographes': An Examination of Handwriting Styles,"

    8. See my pages/threeclefs_meslanges.html, where I show that the change in clef formation occurred in late 1680, specifically in fols. 109v-138 of cahiers 31 and 32.

    9. During the Sainte-Chapelle years, Charpentier used primarily paper "O." When the G clefs of all surviving cahiers with paper "O" are scrutinized, the moment of transition from G-2 to G-3 can be discerned. It occurred in cahier 74, between folios 22 and 23; it likewise occurred between cahier LXXIV (almost certainly for August 15, 1698) and cahier LXXV (dated November 1702). Given the sizeable time gap between cahiers LXXIV and LXXV, we must turn to the Arabic-numbered series for clues to dating this moment of transition more precisely. Cahier 74 contains music for a longue offrande, that is, for the annual opening of the Parlement in November — almost certainly November 1698, because the next notebook, cahier 75, contains works written prior to the departure of singer Antheaume from the Chapel on August 24, 1699. The clef in the longue offrande is G-2, but with fol. 23 it changes to G-3. In other words, the change in clef formation occurred during the final months of 1698. The "problematic" cahier "c" (with its central sheet of leftover Jesuit paper) likewise clearly dates from mid-to-late 1698: the first pages of the cahier use G-2, but G-3 suddenly appears in mid-piece on "page" 50. Cahier LXIII, with its mass for the dead composed during the Jesuit years, uses clef G-3 throughout: it clearly was recopied after the fall of 1698.

Continue to Part II

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