My Ladye Nevells Booke

My Ladye Nevells Booke

My Ladye Nevells Booke

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My Ladye Nevells Booke (British Library MS Mus. 1591) is a music manuscript containing keyboard pieces by the English composer William Byrd, and, together with the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, one of the most important collections of keyboard music of the renaissance.


My Ladye Nevells Booke consists of 42 pieces for keyboard by William Byrd, probably the greatest English composer at that time. Although the music was copied by John Baldwin, one of the most famous musical scribes and calligraphers of the day, the pieces seem to have been selected, organized and even edited and corrected by Byrd himself.

A heavy, oblong folio volume, it retains its original elaborately tooled Morocco binding, stamped with the title, on top of a nineteenth century repair. The illuminated coat-of-arms of the Nevill family is on the title page, with the initials "H.N." in the lower left-hand corner. There are 192 folios each consisting of four six-line staves with large, diamond-shaped notes. At the end is a table of contents.


The origins of the manuscript are obscure. Not even the exact identity of the dedicatee is clear, but Lady Nevell was presumably a pupil or patron of Byrd. There have been several contenders for the title among the widespread Nevill family, but recent research points to the most likely as being Elizabeth Neville, wife of Sir Henry Neville of Billingbear, Berkshire (c.1518-1593), whose arms on the title page have now been identified. Sir Henry...
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