This edition is the result of a long relationship with the manuscript 162 D in the Bibliothèque Centrale Louis Aragon in Amiens. My first encounter with this source of simple polyphony was during my research on the MS Ny kgl. Samling 1848 2° in the Royal Library in Copenhagen in the early 1980s, because it contained some intriguing concordances and related songs. Since then it has stayed in my consciousness as a fascinating sacred parallel to the repertory of ‘everyday music’ in the Copenhagen MS. In a way the two sources supplement each other by their throwing a sidelight over the well-know repertory of professional high-art music of the period.
The decision to do a complete edition of the repertory of the Amiens MS was taken in 2004, and my transcription of most of the music has been online since 2007. However, the introduction and commentary had to wait. One of the reasons for the delay was that I found it difficult to get a hold on the placement of its repertory in its age and context. Only when I realized that I had to set aside a great part of my experiences with the music of the period, I began to understand how a learned person, but certainly not a person learned in music, would perceive music for use in his institution. Viewed from that perspective, the pattern finally began to emerge. This realization forced me to divide the introduction in two separate sections: a factual description of the MS and a highly interpretative article ‘Prayers for the dead …’, which discusses the MS, its context and its repertory.
This project was from its very beginning planned as a collection of open access documents accessible only on the Internet. It consists of many related elements. First and foremost of all the music published in separate PDF-files. They can be reached through links in html-pages, which contain my comments on the music’s appearance in the MS, on the texts, the music and related settings. The entry to these pages is the start page of the edition or the list of contents. Other pages bring the description, the introductory article, and a summary of the life of Antoine de Caulaincourt etc. I have in every single instance made an effort to present the information to the reader as complete as possible irrespective of which route into the maze of connected pages was chosen. Also the publication in single pages during a long period of time made this setup preferable. All in all, this unavoidably leads to a high level of duplication of content and topics in the webpages, which I ask the reader to bear with.
Quite late in the project, I decided to publish the online site also as an e-book in two volumes. The PDF-version contains everything found in the online version. The interconnected webpages have been re-arranged into a linear format, which has ended up having a lot of appendices. There are appendices to the main text in volume 1, which contain supplementary information, and many of the editions of the single settings in volume 2 are provided with their own appendices in which related compositions appear.
In the PDF-version, the layout of the long introductory article conforms to a paper publication with footnotes and self-contained bibliographic references. This may be easier to study than the online version, which uses abbreviations and has the bibliography in a separate database. I had decided not to use music examples in the introduction, because every scrap of music is published in the edition. However, approaching the end of the writing, I found the constant cross-referencing on screen or on paper cumbersome, so examples were added to both versions to make it possible in one look to get an impression of the music described. It adds only a small percentage to the level of duplication in the publication.
I wish to express my gratitude to the staff and administration of the Bibliothèque Centrale Louis Aragon for their readiness to help during my visits to Amiens in October 2004 and again in November 2007; and a special thanks to Conservateur du fonds ancien, A.-B. Rothenburger, who advised me on the collections and lent me her personal work copy of Garnier’s Catalogue. My work on the manuscripts, which are preserved in the quite inaccessible Bibliothèque de l’Hospice at Grand-Saint-Bernard, was enormously facilitated by the lending of a complete, digital colour facsimile from the archivist of the library, Chanoine Jen-Pierre Voutaz, a help I highly appreciate. My thanks also go to senior researcher, dr.phil. Erik Petersen, The Royal Library in Copenhagen, for his help with some difficult Latin texts; and to David Fiala, Catherine Vincent, Pierre Desportes, Catherine Denoël, Ulrike Hascher-Burger, Chris Fenner and John T. Brobeck for sending advice and materials.
Peter Woetmann Christoffersen
University of Copenhagen, November 2015
(March 14, 2016)
I shall be very happy to know if this edition is of any use to the readers. Please send a word to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any comments are welcome, including corrections of facts or of my use of the English language.