Bodleian Library Auct. M 3.14, fol. 1r

Nigel Palmer’s Books in the Bodleian

A presentation by Dr Alan Coates, Assistant Librarian, Rare Books, Dept. of Special Collections and Subject Librarian, Bibliography & History of the Book on the occasion of the Memorial Colloquium for Nigel Palmer and as part of the Weston Library Medievalists Coffee Mornings. This builds on the work the late Nigel F. Palmer did with the Incunable Catalogue of the Bodleian Library, available as Bod-Inc. He contributed the text of descriptions for the section on blockbooks and wood- and metalcut prints. All digitised incunabula and blockbooks are available on digital.bodleian.

The list of books is as follows:

Missale Cisterciense ([Strasbourg: Johann Reinhard Grüninger], 1487) [from Eberbach]
Shelfmark: Auct. 6Q 2.20 [= Bod-inc. M-245(1)]

Apocalypse [Edition V] [Germany, c.1468/70, impression c.1472] Blockbook
Shelfmark: Auct. M 3.14 [= Bod-inc. BB-3]

Death and the Last Judgement ([England (Syon Abbey?), c.1499])
Woodcut, with Latin typographic text
Shelfmark: MS. Rawlinson D. 403, fol. 3v [= Bod-inc. XYL-19]

St George; St Maurelius ([Italy (Ferrara), c.1520])
Woodcut book cover with Italian inscriptions
Shelfmark: Broxb. 30.13 [= Bod-inc. XYL-23]

Büchlein von den peinen (Strasbourg: Bartholomaeus Kistler, 1506)
Shelfmark: Douce L 189

Büchlein von den peinen (Strasbourg: Bartholomaeus Kistler, 1506)
Shelfmark: Vet. E1 e.217

Bodleian Library Auct. M 3.14 in the digital.bodleian viewer.
Open book with music notation on the left side and song text on the right hand side, landscape format

Late-Medieval German Love Songs. Concert and Talk

In 1524, the Augsburg organist Bernhart Rem started writing the part books Österreichische Nationalbibliothek Ms. 18 810 from which the songs for the concert are taken. The pre-concert talk will explore the writing and music-making of late medieval Germany. The early 16th-century soundscape was varied and colourful, ranging from street cries, via religious songs in processions and meetings of the Meistersinger, to instrumental music performed by “town waits”, groups of instrumentalists playing for festive occasions. The songs of Ms. 18 810 retain features of this exclusive aristocratic song culture. They might look like pop music with run-of-the-mill lyrics but in fact these are cutting-edge text-musical combinations. Singing about love’s woes and (occasionally) joys, and of how the poet, assuming the persona of a male lover, constantly runs into and (occasionally) overcomes the obstacles society throws in his way, is as noble a pastime as falconry or commissioning costly manuscripts.

On 7 March 2023 (Tuesday of week 8 of Hilary Term for the Oxonians), music editor and viol player David Hatcher, Professor of German Literature & Linguistics Henrike Lähnemann, and singer James Gilchrist met in the Holywell Music Room to discuss the songs of this manuscripts, taking in music, literature and culture in early 16th century Germany.

Pre-Concert Talk recording by Dr Natascha Domeisen for Oxford Medieval Studies

The authors were members of the same courtly circles or, in cases such as Ludwig Senfl’s autobiographical song ‘Lust hab ich ghabt’, even writing texts themselves as singer-songwriters of the period. In line with the poetic habits of the period, they pay more attention to stanza form than to originality of content. Maximilian’s court was an international meeting point: not only would all forms of German dialects have been spoken, but Latin, French, and even English as well; Ludwig Senfl’s teacher Heinrich Isaac was Dutch.

The pre-concert talk also mentioned the autobiographical song Lust hab ich gehabt zur musica, a song in praise of music education which spells in the verse initials the name of its author and composer, LUDWIG SENNFL, and charts his musical training.

Henrike Lähnemann writes: It is appropriate that with James Gilchrist this repertoire is interpreted by a non-native speaker. Coming to the repertoire not from within the system gives performers the advantage over a German singer to be aware of temporal and regional varieties of the language of song. I was delighted when James contacted me via Claire Horáček – alumna of my own College St Edmund Hall – to check out historical pronunciation. It was exciting to go through this repertoire which can only be grasped when spoken out aloud; this is not a text for silent reading!

Concert in the Hollywell Music Room with the Linarol Consort of viols and James Gilchrist (tenor)

Recording of the concert by Natascha Domeisen

Book further concerts with the Linarol Consort. Listen to the concert playlist.

Call for Papers: Memorial Symposium for Nigel F. Palmer

Update: Registration for the Memorial Event is now open! Please register by 23 April 2023.

What: Literary, religious and manuscript cultures of the German-speaking lands: a symposium in memory of Nigel F. Palmer (1946-2022)

When: 19/20 May 2023

Where: Oxford, Bodleian Library, Taylor Institution Library, St Edmund Hall

To celebrate the life and scholarship of Nigel F. Palmer, Professor of German Medieval Literary and Linguistic Studies at the University of Oxford, we invite expressions of interest from those who wish to honour his memory with an academic contribution to speak at a symposium in Oxford that is to take place 19-20 May 2023. Presentations of twenty minutes’ length are sought. They should speak to an aspect of the wide spectrum of Nigel’s intellectual interests, which ranged extensively within the broad scope of the literary and religious history of the German- and Dutch-speaking lands, treating Latin alongside the vernaculars, the early printed book alongside the manuscript, and the court and the city alongside the monastery and the convent. His primary intellectual contributions were methodological rather than theoretical, and he brought together a study of the book as a material object with the philological and linguistic discipline of the Germanophone academic tradition.

The first session planned for the afternoon of Friday 19 May will take place consequently in the Weston Library, and will consider the manuscript cultures of the German-speaking lands; presentations may take a workshop format, and may – though need not – focus upon one or more manuscripts in the Bodleian collections. The second and third sessions will take place on Saturday 20 May in the Taylorian Library, and will consider the religious and literary history of the German-speaking lands in relation to the questions, issues and working methods central to Nigel’s published scholarship.

We would request expressions of interest, of not more than one full page, to be received by 11 November 2022, to be sent to Stephen Mossman. We ask in advance for the understanding of all who submit that we anticipate receiving many more expressions of interest than we can accommodate within the schedule. A reception will be held at St Edmund Hall on the Saturday afternoon, to which all are cordially invited and welcome, followed by a dinner in College. Those planning to attend are advised to reserve accommodation in good time, e.g. via universityrooms. We hope to secure funding to support early career researchers in attending the symposium, but anticipate that participants will need to cover their travel and accommodation expenses. Details of the symposium and registration will be available through the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages web-site in early 2023.

For the organising committee: Racha Kirakosian, Henrike Lähnemann, Stephen Mossman, Almut Suerbaum

Image: Nigel F. Palmer studying the facsimile of the Osterspiel von Muri on the gallery of the Taylor Institution Library. Photograph by Henrike Lähnemann