Thirty-three rare printed items on music--monographs, scores and part-books--published between 1480 and about 1728. Examples of early compositions, mostly English, are present alongside important theoretical works from England and Italy from the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The compositions are a mixture of secular and religious, madrigals and psalms. Between them they demonstrate the origin and progress of typography as applied to music. Editions of Sternhold and Hopkins printed by John Day are a powerful testimony to the English Reformation. Other noteworthy items include the 1480 and 1492 editions of Franchinus Gaffurius’s Theoricum opus musice, the earliest printed treatise on music; Pescennio Francesco Negro’s Grammatica (1480), the earliest known specimen of printed secular music; and the second edition of Thomas Morley’s scholarly Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (1608), as well as works by Thomas Tallis and William Byrd.
There are some notable examples of provenance: seventeenth-century Lisbon choirmaster Joano Alvares Frouvo; nineteenth-century French musicologist Charles-Edmond-Henri de Coussemaker and English composer Joseph Warren.
The books are a sub-set of a much larger collection amazed by the music publisher Alfred Henry Littleton (1845-1914), (see Musical Times 55:862 (Dec. 1914), 685–686). The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust (CUKT) purchased them from the auction of Littleton’s books by Sotheby’s in 1918 and gave them to the University of London in 1932 on the advice of Sir Percy Buck.