Manchester, 14th-18th July 2004


Bruce Gustafson (Franklin & Marshall College, Pennsylvania, USA)

On editing the music of Chambonnières

The first and only edition of the complete works of Jacques Champion de Chambonnières was published under the excellent supervision of Paul Brunold and André Tessier in 1925. Since then, however, many more sources have been discovered (they knew of nine, less than a third of those now known). Denis Herlin and I are in the process of preparing a new edition of Chambonnières’ music to be published by The Broude Trust, and the evaluation of these sources requires us to adopt a radically different attitude towards an “authentic” text in this repertory. The music of Chambonnières was more widely dispersed both in printed volumes and manuscripts than that of any other composer of the seventeenth-century French harpsichord school. Today, 149 pieces survive in 30 sources. One manuscript seems to contain autograph pieces, 60 were published under his supervision, and many more survive in manuscripts of greatly varying style, detail, and quality; the prints themselves are now known in more versions than was previously thought. This tangle of sources provides an opportunity to study which elements of the notated pieces were retained by harpsichordists (including the composer himself) in copying them and which were treated as clichés for which equivalent gestures could be freely substituted. The notion of  “versions” versus “corruptions” in the music of Chambonnières will be explored as a background to establishing which texts are worthy of modern publication and how those texts should be understood by modern performers. This discussion will take into account the debate about establishing texts—engaged by Ronald Broude, David Fuller, myself, and others—and the notion of a “work” in this repertory.

Last updated on 10 May 2004