Collection Description

Collection name Boughton House
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Description The Montagu Music Collection at Boughton House is one of the most significant music collections in private ownership. Consisting of over 550 volumes, the collection was brought together by the Dukes of Buccleuch and their families, and most notably includes a very large collection of opera vocal scores. While the majority of the printed music dates from 1740 to 1810, the earliest item - a bass part to Recueil des mellanges d’Orlande de Lassus - dates from 1570, and is the first piece of music ever to be printed in England. The collection also contains substantial amounts of manuscript music, as well as writings on music and method books. While some volumes contain only one item, others contain up to 200 publications.

The collection is broadly divided into three main sections. The first (volumes 1-158) is those volumes which can definitively be linked to the collection of Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe (1781-1851). His collection of music came to Boughton House via one Patrick Grieve. These are diverse in nature, consisting of teaching works, Scottish manuscripts, guitar and keyboard music, vocal music, and items relating to the Edinburgh Music Society and Leith Concert. Highlights include Thomas Morley’s A plaine and easie introduction to practicall musicke (1597); “Mrs Crokay’s music book” (1709), containing manuscript keyboard, flute and recorder tunes; a manuscript catalogue of music in St. Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh (1772); and late eighteenth-century printed orchestral sets and full scores.

Volumes 159-281 were acquired by Elizabeth (1743-1827) and Caroline Montagu (1774-1854). This section of the collection contains the majority of the opera vocal scores (volumes 179-281). With a strong focus on English opera by the likes of Arne, Attwood and Shield, French and Italian opera is also well-represented, particularly by Gluck, Donizetti and Rossini. These scores date mostly from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The remainder of items from these two ladies include keyboard music and vocal music (including glees, part songs and sacred works).

The final main section of the collection (volumes 282-352) consists of volumes in Buccleuch binding, often with original shelf marks on their spines, and frequently with titles on binding such as “Sonatas of different authors”, “Serious Italian operas”, and “Old song tunes”. This section, too, contains keyboard music, operas, and a run of the series “Musical Magazine”. There is evidence that further volumes once existed in this series, now not present.

Remaining volumes (353 onwards) cannot definitely be placed in any of the above categories, although it is likely that at least some were from the collection of Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe. These volumes include later discoveries of music from elsewhere in the house, music from the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch’s other properties, and contemporary works with relationship to the family, such as Julian Grant’s “Sancho’s dance mix” (commissioned for performance at Boughton House and dedicated to the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch).

Many items in the collection are dedicated to various Dukes and/or Duchesses of Buccleuch, including Domenico Corri’s A select collection of choice music for the harpsichord or piano forte (approximately 1790) and The singer’s preceptor (approximately 1810); Peter McLeod’s Original Scottish melodies (approximately 1835); and J. H. de Monti’s Six sonatas for the harpsichord or pianoforte (approximately 1850).

Ranger's House, in Greenwich, holds an interesting manuscript said to be an anthology of vocal and keyboard works from "the Duke of Buccleuch's library."

The collection is listed, but not fully catalogued, in Patrick Cadell, Rachel Cadell, and Gareth Fitzpatrick, ‘The Montagu Music Collection : An introductory catalogue’ (The Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust, 2013).

Jonathan Frank, June 2020

Printed music
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Date range -
Associated People and Organisations Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe 1781 - 1851 Patrick Grieve - Edinburgh Music Society - Leith Concert - Morley, Thomas - Lassus, Roland de (Orlando di Lasso) - Elizabeth Montagu 1743 - 1827 Caroline Montagu 1774 - 1854 Arne, Thomas - Attwood, Thomas - Shield, William - Gluck, Christoph Willibald von - Donizetti, Gaetano - Rossini , Gioacchino - Julian Grant - Corri, Domenico - Peter McLeod - J. H. de Monti -
Associated Places Rangers House
Associated Times 16th Century 17th Century 18th Century 19th Century 20th Century 21st Century
Associated Content Opera Music education Scottish music Guitar music Piano music Music history and theory Vocal music Religious music Songs
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Boughton House

Kettering NN14 1BJ Open Map
Building Information A grand, well-preserved stately home.
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