Among the books, manuscripts, and printed music donated to Boston University by the renowned Haydn scholar H. C. Robbins Landon is a manuscript collection of music for the Ordinary of the Mass. The volume is a compendium, most likely from the Veneto, created in the mid-eighteenth century by extracting pages from three manuscripts copied earlier in the century or late in the previous century. The four cantus-fractus Ordinary cycles that introduce the volume (presumably contemporaneous with its creation) and most of the sixteen cantus-fractus Credos seem to be unica. The compendium assembles a practical repertory of monophonic Ordinary chants in plainsong and cantus fractus for the celebration of Mass in a parish church or a religious community. Rubrical notes added to the manuscript prescribe liturgical assignments, specify starting pitches that frequently signal transposition, and call for the participation of the organ, either in alternation with the choir or as accompaniment. The compendium not only augments the known repertoire of cantus-fractus melodies and chants for the Ordinary of the Mass, but it also provides insights into the performance style of chant in eighteenth-century Italy.
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