Manuscripts and Princes in Medieval and Renaissance Europe

Johannes Tinctoris, Opus musices

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Universitat de València, Biblioteca Històrica, BH Ms. 835

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Johannes Tinctoris, Opus musices
Naples, c. 1483, illuminated by Nardo Rapicano
Universitat de València, Biblioteca Històrica, BH Ms. 835
Parchment, 164 ff., 273 x 195 mm

The manuscript Ms. 835 of the University of Valencia was written in Naples around 1483. It is a musical manuscript by Johannes Tinctoris, a versatile author considered to be one of the most outstanding music theorist of his time.
Tinctoris had an early musical education and attended law studies as well. At the beginning of 1470 he moved to the Neapolitan court and entered the service of Ferrante I as his chaplain, singer, music tutor and legal adviser.
While he was staying in Naples he created his twelve treatises, written between 1472 and 1487, of which just a few copies from the fifteenth century have been preserved. Among them, are the codex of Bologna (Biblioteca Universitaria, MS 2573), Brussels (Bibliothèque Royale, MS II 4147) and the Ms. 835 of the University of Valencia.
The Valencian codex contains nine of the twelve works known to be written by Tinctoris : it is one of the most complete copies. The manuscript begins and ends with two laudatory poems written by the monk Fortunato da Ferrara, in honor of Tinctoris. It includes some parts dedicated to King Ferrante and Princess Beatrice, of whom Tinctoris was the tutor.
The codex is made from vellum and consists of 164 folios written in Gothic rounded textual script. The illumination is, according Professor Genaro Toscano, one of the most relevant works of Nardo Rapicano. In f. 2r we can see a frontispiece including the coat of arms of the Aragonese kings and the portrait of Tinctoris writing his works in a room in the Castelnuovo.
In the treatise Expositio manus we can see an image of the “Guidonian hand” (f. 3v), a graphic mnemonic device in which musical notes are arranged on the left hand, used in Medieval music to assist in sight-singing.