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The Pursuit of Musick: Musical Life in Original Writings & Art c1200–1770 by Andrew Parrott - Hardback Version

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'A magisterial collection…I have already lost many an evening to this book, enjoying passages both familiar and lesser known.’ — Gramophone Magazine

a ‘magnificent publication’ … ‘it would be possible to pass many a rewarding and pleasurable hour just browsing the hundreds of illustrations’ — Early Music Review


  • more than 2,800 entries
  • 560 images (300 in colour)
  • translations from five principal languages
  • a span of 600 years’ musical activity
  • free supplementary material online

  • About the book

    The Pursuit of Musick is an encyclopedic and generously illustrated anthology of original written sources, exploring some 600 years of musical activity in Europe, from the first troubadours to the emergence of the pianoforte. Through this book Andrew Parrott presents an extraordinary treasure trove of material documenting myriad ways in which our recent ancestors engaged with music. And, exceptionally, it is almost entirely through their words – their images, too – that such experiences are here vividly evoked.

    The resultant book aims to lend itself equally to leisurely browsing, quick reference and close study, and to be simultaneously authoritative and approachable, allowing general readers and specialists alike to tap into invaluable seams of original source material. Arranged in three main parts (Society, Ideas, Performance), its principal chapters are supplemented by shorter ones exploring related and intriguing byways. Occasional thematic introductions (by Hugh Griffith) and four distinctive appendices contribute further to the book’s unique and characterful nature.


    ‘The originality and uniqueness of this book cannot be overstated. It’s a version of musical history which we always needed but could never have imagined. ... Above all, the voice, spirit, industry and engagement of musicians (so often omitted from history in favour of didactic theorists) are always forefronted in this persuasive demonstration of how music came to be the way it is.’ — Judith Weir, Master of the King’s Music 

    ‘For anyone with a love of music, Andrew Parrott’s pioneering The Pursuit of Musick is bound to be a life-changing experience. His book is a model of intellectual curiosity ... drawing upon a breathtaking array of primary sources to illuminate our ancestors’ engagement with music ... We can never fully comprehend the place of music in earlier times, but Andrew Parrott’s narrative takes us as close as we are ever likely to get.’ — Colin Lawson, Director, Royal College of Music

    ‘Andrew Parrott’s The Pursuit of Musick is the spectacular result of a wonderful career dedicated to enlivening our understanding and experience of “early music”. ... [Nothing comparable] has ever been attempted on quite this scale and with such flair for the multiplicity of musical experience ... and the final touch is the sumptuous visual evidence that adorns every section.’ — John Butt, conductor & Professor, University of Glasgow

    560 pages
    ISBN: 978-1-915229-54-0
    Dimensions: 11" / 28cm H; 8 9/16" / 21.6cm W; 1 3/8" / 3cm D