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John Leyden’s Lyra Viol Manuscript in Newcastle University Library and George Farquhar Graham’s Copy in the National Library of Scotland

Lookup NU author(s): Professor John Robinson


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The manuscript described in this article was owned by the poet and linguist John Leyden, by which name it is known today, although its provenance predates him by a century. The manuscript includes tablature for lyra viol copied late in the seventeenth century probably by the Glasgow musician Andrew Adam. It includes English and Scottish tunes that are also found in contemporary manuscripts originating in Scotland, as well as from the many printed music editions for a variety of instruments published by John Playford and others in London. The tablature is followed by violin music in mensural notation added by several scribes early in the eighteenth century. After John Leyden’s death the manuscript was acquired from the Leyden family by James Telfer (1800-1862), a poet in the Borders. Telfer loaned it to the nineteenth-century musician and scholar George Farquhar Graham (1789-1867), who made a copy of the tablature dated 1844. Later in the nineteenth century the manuscript came into the hands of another Border poet, and antiquary, Robert White (1802-1874), probably from Telfer who was his friend. The manuscript was part of Robert White’s library inherited by his sister’s descendants and donated to King’s College Library in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1942, and is now in the Robinson Library of Newcastle University. The original manuscript and the Graham copy will be described here, together with brief biographies of the men with whom it has been associated.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Robinson JH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Viola da Gamba Society Journal

Year: 2008

Volume: 2

Pages: 17-57

ISSN (print): 0507-0252

Publisher: Viola da Gamba Society of America, Inc.