The 'Alamire' Manuscripts in Partbook Format

October 2011 - September 2015

The doctoral research is focused on five manuscripts in partbook format, more specifically five sets of codices that belong together, dating from the beginning of the sixteenth century, produced in Burgundian Habsburg court circles.

More specifically, there are four sets of manuscripts from the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Mus.Hs.18832, Mus.Hs.15941, Mus.Hs.18746 and Mus.Hs.18825) and one from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana ( These are the only surviving manuscripts in this format from Petrus Alamire’s workshop, which is known for its production of choirbooks. Moreover, these are the only manuscripts that can be irrefutably proven to contain Alamire’s own hand.

Previously, it was assumed that all five sets were part of the Fugger collections, but in the end this appears to be the case for only three of them. The study of the literature in the first phase of the research showed that these rather simple manuscripts have remained under the radar of the musicological research of the last decades. However, their format, tradition, and repertoire make them extremely interesting. Within the Alamire corpus they form an important source for the motet and the chanson. Crucial research questions within the study concern the format of the manuscripts (they are among the earliest surviving examples), the way in which they were created (copying process) – with particular emphasis on the role of Alamire himself – and their subsequent ownership. With these questions, the study tries to contextualize the manuscripts. Partial questions that are reflected upon regard textlessness, anonymity, and functionality.