The Musical Antiquary (Oxford, 1909-1913)

The Musical Antiquary

(Oxford, 1909-1913)

Prepared by Richard Kitson
1 volume 1 volumes* (2003)

The Musical Antiquary, one of the first British musicology journals, was published quarterly by Oxford University Press from October 1909 to July 1913, when publication ceased without explanation. Its dated but unnumbered issues contain between sixty and seventy pages printed in a single-column format. The journal focuses primarily on historical inquiry, dealing mainly with “ancient music,” the Elizabethan, British Commonwealth and Restoration periods, and eighteenth-century musical life and musicians in Great Britain.

The journal’s founder and editor was Oxford educated Godfrey Edward Pellew Arkwright (1864-1944), a tireless scholar deeply involved with the study of music history. The main contributors to The Musical Antiquary are well-known scholars in the field of British musicology: William Barclay Squire (1855-1927), William Henry Grattan Flood (1859-1928), Richard Alexander Streatfield (1866-1919), Frank Kidson (1855-1926), H. Ellis Wooldridge (1845-1917), and Henry Tillyard (1881-1968). The American musicologist O. G. T. Sonneck (1873-1928) also contributed.

The journal contains eighty-four articles, the majority of which are signed. Seventeen deal specifically with music and musicians in Great Britain: for example, composers of liturgical music in sixteenth-century Scotland; the roles of Robert Farrant, William Hunnis and Willian Byrd in the production of Elizabethan stage music; the history of the Oxford Music School—including descriptions of the portraits of the School’s music masters, and biographical notes concerning each—the accentual properties of the English language; and Shakespeare’s “treatment of music” in his plays. Other topics treated include the production of comic operas, the musicians of the Tudor and Stuart reigns (a fourteen-part series), the activities of singing teacher and choral director Captain Henry Cooke during the Commonwealth and Restoration periods, and Purcell’s church music.

The history of musical activities in Dublin is the subject of comments by a number of correspondents and of five major articles which offer actual and speculative accounts of visits to Dublin by Domenico Scarlatti, Thomas Arne and Francesco Geminiani, and, of Tomasso Giordani’s residency in Dublin.

Cataloging the contents of private collections and British music libraries, a much-discussed undertaking during this period, is addressed in a number of articles. References to music in the English periodical press of the late seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries—specifically, Exshaw’s London Magazine and Peter Motteux’s Gentleman’s Journal—are the subject of several articles. The vocal music of the Italian baroque is treated in a number of articles by well-known authorities including Edward J. Dent and O. G. T. Sonneck. And, Handel, of course, remains a continuing subject of inquiry.

Several articles deal with early manifestations of Christian chant, the techniques of Renaissance polyphony and Anglican and Roman Catholic liturgical practices. Among the studies of Renaissance polyphonic music in The Musical Antiquary is a series of articles in which the beginnings and finals (cadences) of motets in all eight modes are discussed and illustrated with musical examples. Of great interest is the extensive contribution of pioneer Byzantine scholar H. J. W. Tillyard in the form of a two-part article explaining Byzantine liturgical music and its musical notation. Finally, there are two articles on ethnomusicology: one by L. Charles S. Meyers on primitive music, and an unsigned article on a Native American Indian song which is identified as an adaptation of an English song.

The final section of each issue, entitled “Notes and Queries,” consists of numerous contributions by scholars, some of whom are the journal’s regular contributors. The subjects addressed usually clarify or further expand areas of inquiry treated in the journal’s articles.

*Hard Bound with
The New Quarterly Musical Review (London, 1893-1896)
The Quarterly Musical Review (Manchester, 1885-1888)