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Books on Music

Jean-Benjamin De Laborde – Essai Sur La Musique

Although he was a successful composer for the stage from the age of 14, Jean-Benjamin de Laborde is today best known for his writings on music, in particular the four-volume Essai sur la musique ancienne et moderne of 1780. What this work lacks in systematic rigour it more than makes up in scope; apart from the chronological span implied by the title, the entries range as far afield as China and Guinea. Laborde, his palace and his collection of 25,000 books and many musical scores were casualties of the French Revolution.

Click on thumbnails to see larger images.

Title Page.
Plate from volume 1 (Chinese instruments
and blind musicians).
Ancient Roman instruments, based on a
copy of a wall-painting in Herculaneum
excavated in the 18th century.



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