HASSE, Johann Adolph.

The Comic Tunes &c.

to the Celebrated Dances Perform'd at Bath Theatres by Signor & Signora Fausan, Mons. Desnoyer and Signora Barberini. Mons. and Mademoiselle Michel. For the Harpsichord, Violin, or German Flute. Compos'd by... Book I

London: I. Walsh, 1741 Stock Code: 134786

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First edition of the first volume of what became a highly popular eight-volume series printed over 20 years, and representing important documentation of the role of Italian dancers in London theatres in the mid-18th century."For just over two decades in the middle of the eighteenth century the firm of John Walsh sporadically published booklets of music for current theatrical dances. The titles varied, but they generally contained the phrase 'Comic Tunes' and featured the name of Johann Adolf Hasse among the composers whose work was said to be included... Only in the first two volumes are dances and dancers consistently identified. After that, labelling becomes increasingly hit-or-miss... The annotation in these booklets seems to have been overlooked by dance and theatre historians, though it provides valuable information not available from other sources... the Comic Tunes enables us to place in London in particular seasons dancers not otherwise documented. Because the King's Theatre in the Haymarket seldom advertised any of its performers, dance rosters for the opera at mid-century are almost unknown. The Comic Tunes allows us to reconstruct these rosters. Both Drury Lane and Covent Garden acknowledged their dancers, so the Comic Tunes adds few names to the list of their performers. The booklets do, however, preserve the music for some of the most popular dances on the London stage in these years. The series originated with musicians rather than dancing-masters" (Judith Milhous, "'Hasse's' Comic Tunes: Some dancers and dance music on the London stage, 1740-1759" in Dance Research Vol. 2, No. 2, 1984), p.41). Antonio Rinaldi Fausan and his wife, leading off the title page here, were among the first. (Donald Burrows, The Cambridge Companion to Handel). Decidedly uncommon, BL has a complete run, BnF just Books I-V, the University of Pennsylvania a defective run of the first four, and Cambridge only Book I. An unusual piece, particularly as here in a trifle used, but appealing, contemporary binding.

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Oblong Octavo (163 x 195 mm). Contemporary full calf, old reback, red morocco patch label to the front board, edged with a gilt dog-tooth roll, two gilt panels, the inner with foliate lozenge cornerpieces. Fully-engraved title page and 92 leaves, engraved notation one side only.


Worn, old slightly clumsy reback, but characterful, corners through, new endpapers, front hinge cracking, but sound, light browning throughout, the occasional spot and offsetting, but overall not unattractive, very good.


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