Barbe Manuscript
The Barbe manuscript is one of the most important sources of French lute music and was unknown before 1930 when it was acquired from a private collector by the Bibliothèque National de Paris. Its original owner was a Jean-Baptiste Barbe (1675 - 1759) but its compiler is unknown. The selection of pieces suggests it was compiled towards the end of the seventeenth century. It is unusual, if not unique, among lute manuscripts in including detailed performance markings in red ink, especially including left hand fingering, barré indications and signs for held notes. A modern facsimile edition was published in 1985 by Editions Minkoff (
Chauvel 1985).

Delitiae Musicae

Published in 1612, this is a printed collection of lute music produced by a lutenist from the Low Countries, Joachim van den Hove.

Capirola Lute Book
According to Duarte (1976) the Capirola Lute Book dates from around 1517 and is the oldest known handwritten collection of lute tablatures. It is a compilation by a (probably amateur) Venetian lutenist identified only by his first name, Vidal, of the compositions of his instructor Vincenzo Capirola a lutenist born in Brescia and professionally active in Venice. The book has 45 pages with 13 ricercare, 7 dances and 22 intabulations of vocal works.

Dresden (Weiss) Manuscript

The Dresden Manuscript is a collection of six volumes held in the State Library in Dresden containing music written after 1725, mostly lute suites plus the lute parts of some ensemble works.

Hoffmann Lute Book

(Wolfgang Hoffmann von Grünbühel’s Lute Book - N. Mus. ms. 479) held in the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin is an early 17th century source containing 80 or so pieces, a mixture of English and continental music, mostly unattributed but including a couple of Dowland’s works (
Charteris, 2006)

Hainhofer Manuscript
This collection in Italian and German tablature was made around 1603 for a Bavarian diplomat and amateur lutenist Phillip Hainhofer (
Ness and Kolczynski, 2001).

London (Weiss) Manuscript
Almost half of Sylvius Leopold Weiss’s known works are found in the London Manuscript, which was acquired by the British Museum (now the British Library) in London in 1877. It contains 237 hand-written pieces in tablature, including 28 complete suites and a number of stand-alone pieces. The pieces were probably written in Breslau between 1706 and 1730.

Moscow (Weiss) Manuscript
The Moscow Manuscript is currently held in a museum in Moscow known as the Glinka Museum. It remained unknown to scholars in the west until 1963 and has been published in facsimile and transcription and in guitar arrangement by Editions Orphée. The evidence suggests it was compiled in Russia a few years after Weiss’s death. It contains 48 pieces for the 13 course baroque lute, a number by Weiss (including versions of some found in the Dresden Weiss MS) and others by anonymous contemporaries
(Crawford and Rinehart 1995).

Milleran Manuscript
René Milleran, a language professor and amateur lutenist, compiled a manuscript of lute music over a number of years around 1690. It provides one of the most important extant sources of French seventeenth century lute music. Milleran's teacher Charles Mouton is particularly well represented and there are pieces by both Ennemond and Denis Gaultier among others. A colour facsimile of the manuscript is available at

Nuremberg Lute Book

This is a collection of more than 150 pieces compiled around 1600 held in the German National Museum in Nuremberg (MS. 33 748). It contains numerous anonymous pieces but also work from a number of known European musicians such as Dowland, Mertel and Ballard, but many of the ascriptions are unclear and some of the versions of known pieces are considerably different from those found elsewhere. There is a very good collection in five volumes of transcriptions accompanied by facsimiles of the music from this manuscript (in Helmut
Mönkemeyer's now sadly out of print ‘Die Tablatur’ series) (Mönkemeyer 1979).

The Premier Livre de tablature de luth (Robert Ballard)
This is a printed source, published in Paris in 1611. A
modern facsimile edition was produced in 1995 by Pascal Boquet and François-Pierre Goy for the French Lute Society (Boquet & Goy 1995).

Thesaurus Harmonicus

Published in Cologne in 1603
Thesaurus Harmonicus is a collection of the European lute music from the end of the 16th century. Its author Jean-Baptiste Besard (c.1567 - c.1620) was clearly an energetic man as he practised as a lawyer and doctor as well as teaching lute and composing music. There are pieces by twenty-one composers (such as Laurencini, Diomedes Cato, Charles Bocquet, Jacob Polak, Fabrizio Dentice, Albert Dlugoraj, Victor de Montbuysson, Elias Mertel, Julian Perrichon and a few from English lutenists such as John Dowland) together with a number of works by Besard himself and, as is common in publications at this time, numerous anonymous pieces. The Thesaurus is divided into ten books, according to genre, and includes an addendum (in Latin; De modo in testudine libellus) on the method of playing the lute. An English translation of these instructions appeared in Robert Dowland’s Varietie of Lute Lessons (see above).

The Saizenay Manuscript
was compiled by the French amateur lutenist Jean Etienne Vaudry, Seigneur de Saizenay, 1668 - 1742. It includes lute and theorbo works by De Visée as well gasworks by Gallot and Gaultier.

The Schele Manuscript
This lute book of 156 pieces is held in the Hamburg state library. It bears the date 1619 and the name Ernst Schele who is presumed to be one of several scribes involved in its preparation. It contains numerous works by the Dutch lutenist Joachim van den Hove and a selection of lute music by his contemporaries including John and Robert Dowland, Vallet, Kapsberger, Ballard and Besard.

Testudo Gallo-Germanica
is a printed collection of lute works published in Nurenberg 1615 by Georg Leopold Fuhrmann a German publisher and bookseller who was also an amateur lutenist.

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