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Mackworth music scores

Detail of manuscript score from the Mackworth collection.

Operas, dances, cantatas and songs assembled by Neath industrialist Sir Herbert Mackworth (1737-1791) and his family.

Browse the online catalogue of manuscripts.

The collection contains publications collected by Mackworth and other family members, dating from the 17th-19th centuries. It includes pleasure garden-songs, fashionable dance music and instrumental music by Corelli, Handel and Hasse, plus some 70 manuscript volumes, including full scores of operas and operatic arias by Giovanni Bononcini, Porpora and Alessandro Scarlatti, as well as operatic arias by Hasse, Vinci, and Handel.

In 1916, Sir Herbert’s descendants put the collection up for sale, and it was purchased for the Cardiff Public Library in 1919 by Mr Richard Bonner Morgan, a Cardiff optician. The Mackworth collection was placed on permanent loan in the care of Cardiff University Library in 1989. It contains publications spanning from Thomas Mace’s Music’s Monument (1676) to a copy of Mendelssohn's Elijah (1878); though the vast majority of the published works are from the 18th century.

Manuscript copies believed to be unique include: Charles Burney, Six sonatas or duets for two German flutes (London, 1754); George Frideric Handel, The overture and favourite songs in the opera of Rodelinda (London c. 1725); and Johann Adolph Hasse, Sonata per il cembalo (London, c. 1760). Of particular note is an important manuscript containing early 18th century Spanish cantatas and over 50 copies of Italian cantatas, including one unica by Alessandro Scarlatti.

There are about a dozen or so treatises which address practical aspects of musicianship, such as Ladies’ pocket guide, or the compleat tutor for the guittar, containing easy rules for learners, and Gentleman’s diversion, or the Violin explain’d by John Lenton. The Lenton copy is a unique first edition, previously overlooked because of the loss of the first three pages. The discovery of the Cardiff copy of Gentleman’s diversion sets other violin methods of the period in a new light. It also confers upon John Lenton the honourable distinction of having written the earliest extant treatise on violin playing in any language.

As well as preserving unique items, the Mackworth collection affords an important opportunity to study the collecting habits of an 18th century family who were chiefly concerned with creating a practical, domestic music library.

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