An exploration of the first pieces for keyboard instruments published in early sixteenth century Paris.
Here in Pierre Attaingnant’s workshops in the Rue de la Harpe, near the church of Saint-Cosme, you could cut the tension with a knife. France’s first music printer is preparing for a new collection of pieces for keyboard to come hot off the presses. Le Tout Reduict en la Tablature D’Orgues, Espinettes et Manicordions (All Reduced to Tablatures for Organs, Spinets and Clavicords) is the latest in a series of seven books, all published between January and April of that same year, and it has been a tough winter! The series deals with three genres: sacred counterpoint, adaptations of songs and finally dance music. This programme focuses on the latter two.
Who wrote these keyboard versions? Although Attaingnant neglects to tell us, it is highly likely that one or more famous organists of the day worked on the publication. However the case may be, the seven books sold out very quickly, which meant that by the end of the century one bookseller was talking about the 1531 tablatures being “impossible to get hold of” and in 1623 the organist Jehan Titelouze wrote that “nobody can remember” tablatures for keyboard instruments ever having been printed in France.
We hope that this programme will bring these pieces back to life. Although they were very quickly forgotten, they did, after all, help to lay the foundations for the famous French school of keyboard music.
Attaingnant, Pierre: Aupres de vous