Seven musical scores belonging to Isabelle de Valois

leg. 394, fol. 130 - Archivo General (Simancas, Spain)

Alternate Titles:

Siete piezas en cifra entre los papeles de Isabel de Valois, Sieben Partituren von Isabelle de Valois

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Siete piezas en cifra entre los papeles de Isabel de Valois
Sieben Partituren von Isabelle de Valois

Type
Extent / Format

6 pages / 31.0 x 21.8 cm

Origin
Date
16th century
Genre
Former owners

Isabelle de Valois

Short description

A true treasure of music history is stored in the Archivo General in Simancas, Spain: a 16th century manuscript with six pieces for the vihuela. This Spanish string instrument is similar to a lute and was particularly popular in the 15th and 16th centuries and its use was widespread in Spain. The so-called Simancas Manuscript was recently discovered in a diverse compendium of documents from the personal collection of the Spanish Queen Isabell de Valois. The two leaves with the songs, together with an additional 19th century document, are one of only two surviving pieces of evidence of vihuela music in manuscript form that survive today!

Facsimile editions available

Description

Seven Musical Scores Belonging to Isabelle de Valois

A true treasure of music history is stored in the Archivo General in Simancas, Spain: a 16th century manuscript with six pieces for the vihuela. This Spanish string instrument is similar to a lute and was particularly popular in the 15th and 16th centuries and its use was widespread in Spain. The so-called Simancas Manuscript was recently discovered in a diverse compendium of documents from the personal collection of the Spanish Queen Isabell de Valois. The two leaves with the songs, together with an additional 19th century document, are one of only two surviving pieces of evidence of vihuela music in manuscript form that survive today!

Harmonious Melodies Composed in the 16th Century

Rivera verde umbrosa, Por unos ojuelos negros und Falsa me es la espiga de zuela: that is the enthusiastic title of a few compositions, which contain a valuable document for music history with the signature Casa y Sitios Reales, Legajo 394, folio 130 of the General Archive in Simancas. Six pieces of music are written down on three sheets, three of the songs have lyrics. Additionally, one finds the pieces Contrapunto sobre el Conde Claros, Pavanilla, and Diferencias sobre "Guárdame las vacas".

A Spanish String Instrument

These six compositions for the vihuela originate from an anonymous composer and are one of very few specimens of evidence in manuscript form regarding the music of this instrument. The so-called Simancas Manuscript was only recently rediscovered. Only two manuscripts with compositions for the vihuela survive today, besides most of these have only been transmitted in print form. The vihuela is a Spanish plucking instrument with 6-7- strings. It is comparable to a lute and can be seen as a counterpart to the Italian and Portuguese viola. The vihuela was most popular in the 15th and 16th centuries, whereby the 16th century represented the highpoint of their prevalence in Spain.

In the Possession of the Spanish Queen?

Altogether, the Simancas Manuscript consists of 6 pages. A double page with three written sides and a blank page with the musical scores. Furthermore, they are accompanied by an additional document with annotations from the 19th century. It was found in a loose compendium of documents from the years 1628-1633, which probably originated from the private collection of the Spanish Queen Isabell de Valois. Isabell de Valois (1545-1568) was the daughter of the French King Henry II and was married to King Philip II of Spain. As the third wife of Philip II, she was not only a French princess but also a Spanish Queen.
The Simancas Manuscript with its six compositions for the vihuela is a unique document of music history and an impressive testimonial to 16th century Spanish music!

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