Splendid facsimile presented at Museum Hof van Busleyden


Press conference Mechelen Choirbook © Alamire Foundation

24 Sept. 2020

On Thursday, 24 September 2020 General Director Bart Demuyt and Professor David Burn handed over a deluxe version of the Mechelen Choirbook facsimile to Mechelen Alderman Björn Siffer, representing the culmination of a long-standing collaboration.

The Mechelen Choirbook was produced in the workshop of the important Low Countries music-scribe Petrus Alamire in the early sixteenth century, for a member of the ruling Habsburg family. The choirbook is not only among the best-preserved of the Alamire corpus, but also one of the most finely illuminated, and one of the largest that he ever produced. Uniquely among the Alamire music manuscripts, it is still held in the city where it was made, Mechelen.

The internationally successful exhibition “Petrus Alamire. Polyphony in the Picture” which was on display in 2015 at Antwerp Cathedral, and later in the Beverley Minster (UK), Monastère royal de Brou (France) and Istituto Centrale per la Grafica (Rome) was mounted thanks to the support of various partners, including Visit Flanders and the cities of Antwerp and Mechelen. For the exhibition in Antwerp, this support entailed the loan of the Mechelen Choirbook, which rarely leaves its safe in the Mechelen City Archives. The facsimile made for the exhibition, based on the images created by the Alamire Digital Lab, was displayed alongside the original manuscript so that visitors could browse through it.

The collaboration with Mechelen did not end there. The expertise of the Alamire Foundation was also called upon for the development of the Museum Hof van Busleyden. The Alamire Foundation helped to shape the sound and image in the permanent display area of the Mechelen Choirbook. And before viewing the Choirbook itself, visitors are invited to browse through a digital book in which selected pages of the Mechelen Choirbook are presented on a touch screen.

The facsimile handed over to the city is a limited luxury edition, offering a replica that approaches the original as closely as possible in size, colour, and all the details of the finish: it is bound in leather, with gilded edges and metal fittings. The sixteenth-century craftsmanship of the original has been matched by the artistry of the designer, printer, bookbinder and silversmith.