Collection Description

Collection name Chatsworth
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Description Chatsworth has been home to the Cavendish family since 1549, and contains many musical items, all with provenance to Cavendish family members. The bulk of its printed music collection dates from the early to mid-nineteenth century, and consists of piano music, including dances and duets; flute and piano music and flute duets; harp music; and Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito. These are presented in binder’s volumes, and some bear ownership markings from various family members: Louisa (O’Callaghan) Cavendish (-1863), Louisa’s daughter Fanny Cavendish (1809-1885), and Louisa’s son Richard Cavendish (1812-1873).

Elsewhere in the collection are occasional other pieces of printed music, including a bound volume of alto parts including Josquin des Prez’s Liber primus (1516), as well as masses by Jean Mouton, Pierre de la Rue and Alexander Agricola; a bass part to Arcadelt’s Primo libro di madrigali (1543); Marenzio’s Il primo libro di madrigali (1600); John Attey’s First book of ayres in foure parts (1622); and Rauzzini’s La regina di Golconda (1784). This latter item is dedicated to Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806).

Manuscript music at Chatsworth consists of a small number of items of piano music, songs, vocal ensemble music and harp music. Dates range from 1808 to 1847 and identified owners include Louisa O’Callaghan and Fanny Cavendish. Some of these contain inscriptions such as “played at Chatsworth”, with performance dates listed. A volume of manuscript harp duets, formerly owned by Louisa O’Callaghan, includes a piece by “P. Seybold” which is dedicated to her.

Most significantly, however, is an autograph manuscript of Mendelssohn’s Lied ohne Worte, op. 102 no. 2. This was given to Lady Caroline Cavendish (-1867) on 6 May 1847 on a London visit, and while the subsequent published version differs slightly in length, it retains its dedication to Lady Caroline. This meeting is mentioned in George Grove’s dictionary entry on Mendelssohn.

The Chatsworth archives contain further items with musical connections, most notably an autograph letter from Handel to Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington (1694-1753), dated 26 July 1719 and written in French. The Handel connection is further cemented by Chatsworth’s Jean-Baptiste van Loo painting of Lord Burlington and his family, which depicts Lord Burlington’s daughter Lady Charlotte pointing to a Handel score on her mother’s lap. Further musical items in the archives include a manuscript music book in the hand of William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (1790-1858); two manuscript pieces composed by Georgiana Howard, Countess of Carlisle (1783-1858) and an unidentified Duke of Devonshire respectively; and various receipts and payments relating to music.

Chatsworth holds a unique and fascinating flute, specially designed to be playable with only one hand. This instrument was built for Chevalier Rebsomen, an officer in Napoleon’s army, who, having lost his left arm in battle in 1813, commissioned this flute from maker Cornelius Ward. This flute was later acquired by William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, having seen Rebsomen perform on it on several occasions. The flute is mentioned in several publications, including The European magazine and The London literary gazette (both April 1823); Cornelius Ward’s The flute explained (1844); and Pan journal (March 2008).

Other instruments at Chatsworth include a Shudi/Broadwood double-manual harpsichord (1782); and a Steinway grand piano (1893), purchased by Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire (1868-1938).

Amongst the artworks, besides the aforementioned van Loo painting, one of Chatsworth’s best-known paintings is a trompe l’oeil of a violin by Jan van der Vaardt, which is painted onto a door in the State Music Room.

Jonathan Frank, July 2020

Printed music
Manuscript music
Private papers/diaries/letters
Archival material
Date range -
Associated People and Organisations Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus - Louisa Cavendish - 1863 Fanny Cavendish 1809 - 1885 Richard Cavendish 1812 - 1873 Josquin - Jean Mouton - Pierre de la Rue - Alexander Agricola - Jacques Arcadelt - Marenzio, Luca - John Attey - Venanzio Rauzzini - P. Seybold - Mendelssohn, Felix - Caroline Cavendish - 1867 Grove, George - Handel, George Frideric - Richard Boyle 1694 - 1753 Jean-Baptiste Vanloo - William Cavendish 1790 - 1858 Georgiana Dorothy Howard 1783 - 1858 Chevalier Rebsomen - Ward, Cornelius - Shudi, Berkat - Broadwood, John - Steinway - Victor Cavendish 1868 - 1938 Jan van der Vaart -
Associated Places
Associated Times 16th Century 17th Century 18th Century 19th Century
Associated Content Piano music Dance Piano duet Flute Opera Madrigal Vocal music Religious music Songs Harpsichord Piano Flute music Harp music
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Bakewell DE45 1PP Open Map
Building Information The sixteenth-century home to the Cavendish family since 1549.
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