Chansons des franc-maçons

For the 260th birthday of music’s favorite Freemason, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, here is a recent acquisition:  Recueil de chansons des franc-maçons à l’usage de la Loge de Ste Geneviefve. A very rare collection of sixty Masonic songs, it was published in Paris in 1763 and sold by Charles-Antoine Jombert.

Gilt-stamped morocco spine label. Mus 558.8

Gilt-stamped morocco spine label. Mus 558.8

This volume is in four parts. The first, which does not have a title, contains such songs as the florid Chanson des maitres and a combative march called La main aux armes. Part two describes Les plaisirs de la Maçonnerie, specifically Une aimable fraternité, La sagesse et l’innocence and Une égalité parfaite. Part three contains Noels en C fol ut (Fidele a Dieu bon citoyen), and part four Noels en G ré sol (Amis de la concorde).

Chanson des maitres. Mus 558.8

Chanson des maitres. Mus 558.8

This item joins several other collections of Masonic songs at the Isham Memorial Library, the special collections library located with the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library. These include The Masonick minstrel (Dedham, MA: 1816) and Auswahl maurerischer Gesænge (compiled in Germany between 1803 and 1805).

It is perhaps an overstatement to call Mozart a full-fledged political Mason. He was active in his local lodge, Zur Wohlthätigkeit, and enjoyed close friendships with his Masonic brothers. He composed music for the lodge’s meetings, such as the cantata Die Maurerfreude, K. 471, for tenor, male chorus and orchestra, and the Maurerische Trauermusik, K. 477, which went through arrangements for many permutations of instruments.

Songs in the English language

Songs in the English language, a collection of printed music from England, Ireland and Scotland, is now cataloged and available for research.

The gift of emeritus professor John Milton Ward, these English-language songs were published in London, Dublin, Glasgow and Edinburgh between 1675 and 1870. There are ballads, popular songs, romances, pastorals, patriotic songs, hunting songs, bawdy songs, sea songs, political songs, and music from theaters and pleasure gardens.  Most of the pieces carry the name of their composer and many also identify the singer who first made the song famous as well as where it was sung.

Arne, T. A. Rule Britannia. Ms. Coll. 143 (85)

Arne, T. A. Rule Britannia. Ms. Coll. 143 (85)

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