At UCF, rare music manuscript yields clues to its history

July 14, 2011, 6:06 am

The question must be asked, what is the history of the extremely rare, centuries-old illuminated religious book recently donated to the University of Central Florida?  Kathleen Sewright is on a mission to find out its origins. The 16-by-22-inch mystery book has 364 pages and is 4 inches thick. It was bought in Spain during the long rule of dictator Francisco Franco, and it spent the next 50 years in the home of a Maitland art lover. But the early days of the manuscript, called an antiphonary, are lost in the mists of time. Even the manuscript’s origin is unclear, which explains why Sewright is doing her sleuthing.

“As best as I can tell, it’s from the northwest of Spain,” said Sewright, who has a doctorate in historical musicology from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “If I knew of another book in a particular part of Spain, I could do a chemical analysis to compare them. But we don’t have enough of these types of manuscripts surviving, so that’s not in the cards.”


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