A Brief Introduction
Being a music performance major besides being a bibliophile, I was elated to begin working with the Mahoney Music Collection this semester. One of the first projects assigned to me was to find books to potentially be digitized in the next project, after treatises and Lyon & Healey catalogues. They were to be books with detailed illustrations – basically, something more appealing to look at than the violin treatises. Essentially, for a while I got paid to browse through thousands of books all on my favorite topic.
In the end there were about half a dozen books on the list to be passed on to the higher-ups. Unfortunately, I had to deny numerous volumes I would have loved to see available to the whole world via the digital library. Some were historically significant, some were wildly informative, and some were just ridiculously silly. One book stood out particularly – though it did not make the short list for the digitization project – and I felt it had to be featured.
About the Book
Cremona fedelissima citta, et nobilissima colonia de Romani is the oldest in the Mahoney Music Collection. Dating from 1645, it was printed when Antonio Stradivarius was a newborn and before J.S. Bach was even alive, when music was still in the infancy of what would be known as the Baroque Era.
Its one-piece cover is the original “limp” vellum binding that now is warped and discolored but still supple, a characteristic of the artistry and techniques of the Italian Renaissance. The pages are crinkled and slightly yellowed, and among them are several woodcut portraits, fold-out illustrations of architecture, and an oversized map of seventeenth-century Cremona.
It was the map that attracted Dr. Mahoney to buy the book in 1997. Interestingly enough, when compared to a modern map of Cremona, one sees an abundance of similarities proving that the city has remained largely unchanged over the past 350 years.
The title page itself is a Renaissance work of art. There are even two Italian sonnets included in the first few pages, of course about Cremona. If only I knew more Italian – this beautiful tome would be a delight to read thoroughly!