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date: 22 January 2020

Worcester polyphonylocked

  • Ernest H. Sanders


The so-called Worcester repertory, comprising more than 100 anonymous polyphonic compositions datable from between the early 13th century and the second quarter of the 14th.

The repertory is contained in 59 manuscript leaves, 40 of which are preserved in GB-WO Add.68. While there is no certainty regarding the original provenance of any of the leaves, most of which are in more or less fragmentary condition, the available indications point to Worcester as a major centre of polyphonic composition, hence the frequently used term ‘Worcester Fragments’. Concordances show that the Worcester music was influential elsewhere in England. On the other hand, the ‘Worcester Fragments’ contain little more than a third of all the completely preserved English polyphony of the 13th century. Some of the compositions in other sources may also have originated in Worcester. (For more detailed information on sources seeSources, MS, §VI.)

The repertory can be seen as falling chronologically into five main groups of pieces. Of these the second is by far the largest. Each can further be divided into its several categories of composition. The discussion below follows such a scheme of classification. (‘...

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Weissenfels, Schuh- und Stadtmuseum Weissenfels (mit Heinrich-Schütz-Gedenkstätte) [on loan to D-BKÖs]
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Oxford, Bodleian Library
London, British Library
Musica disciplina
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Early Music History
Acta musicologica
Musical Times
Worcester, Cathedral Library