Book review: The Pursuit of Musick

The Pursuit of Musick: Musical Life in Original Writings & Art
Available from October 2022 at

The first time I reviewed a book by Andrew Parrott I confidently called him the éminence grise of early music (Composers’ Intentions? Gramophone, 2015) and by and large my view remains unchanged. [...]

It's an astonishingly varied collection of primary sources, numbering over 2,500 entries, some familiar from the standard reference works such as the indefatigable Strunk's Source Readings in Music History (Norton), and some less familiar, as well as paintings long studied by art historians but less so by music students. The immediate attraction of this collection is in the juxtaposition of such diverse primary sources in a format which will truly pay dividends in sheer serendipity.

Some 600 years’ musical activity are spanned from plainchant notation, memorably referred to as a moment when 'the curtain goes up' on music-making by Taruskin (The Oxford History of Western Music), to 1770 when Charles Burney began his chronicle of music history. Parrott has organised his sources in a 3-part structure: music & society, music & ideas, music & performance; divided across 25 main chapters, each beginning with enormously useful, but brief, thematic introductions (most by Hugh Griffith). [...]

For the full text of the article please see Gramophone magazine (February 2023)


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