Toccate d’intavolatura di cimbalo et organo partite di diverse arie e corrente, balletti, ciaccone, passachagli . . . Libro P[rim]o.

Rome, Nicolò Borbone, 1637.

Folio (378 x 262 mm), pp. [iv], 94, [3], engraved throughout; with an elaborate engraved title incorporating the arms of Cardinal Francesco Barberini and an engraved portrait of the composer by Christianus Sas after Jean Saillant on f. 2r above a laudatory sonnet by Pier Francesco Paoli of Pesaro; some spotting and light foxing, mostly restricted to margins, but a very good copy in contemporary limp vellum; slightly rubbed and stained, minor repair to lower outer corner of upper cover.


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Fifth edition of Frescobaldi’s superbly engraved first book of toccatas, with the substantial aggiunta containing the last keyboard works published during the composer’s lifetime.

Frescobaldi’s two books of toccatas, the first published in 1615 and the second in 1627, ‘laid the foundation of the expressive keyboard style . . . . There is little doubt that these works, and perhaps even more the toccatas in his second book, are largely responsible for the fascination Frescobaldi has exerted on musicians throughout the ages; their purely musical expression of intense and continually shifting passions has had few equals’ (New Grove).

‘In 1637 Frescobaldi brought out revisions of both books of toccatas. The first book includes a substantial supplement of pieces in the popular style which appears to have been in preparation for some years and was originally intended for the new edition of the second book. It underwent repeated revision before its final publication; evidence of some of the earlier phases has been detected in pieces and fragments surviving in manuscript. The added works show that during his last years Frescobaldi became interested in the creation of extended compositions or cycles out of a succession of individual pieces, sometimes joined by transitional passages. Apparently a considerable amount of experimentation preceded the final products, which include several two-movement and three-movement dance sequences, as well as the lengthy Cento partite sopra passacagli . . . . This last work, one of Frescobaldi’s most impressive achievements, includes several segments that during a preliminary phase had been destined as parts of separate compositions. The final published version is a masterful essay on the passacaglia and the chaconne and on their relationship’ (Ibid.).

The binding is lettered in manuscript on the spine ‘To. I’, suggesting that it was once accompanied by the second book of toccatas. However, both books are usually found (and were probably originally available) separately, as here.

Provenance: eighteenth-century inscription of an unidentified Jesuit college at foot of title; ‘P. Ricciardetti’, with his ownership inscription dated 12 October 1798 at foot of title.

BUC I p. 352; RISM F 1859. All early editions of Frescobaldi’s works are of considerable rarity. RISM gives six locations in the UK: Bodleian Library (imperfect), British Library (three copies), Glasgow (imperfect), Haslemere, Royal College of Music, and Trinity College of Music (imperfect); it locates four copies in the US: Eastman School of Music, Harvard, Library of Congress, and Newberry Library.