The first edition of Burney's General History of Music (1776 - 1789) in South African Libraries

  • Carol Steyn Department of Art History, Visual Arts and Musicology, University of South Africa, Pretoria
Keywords: Burney, History, Music, Libraries, South Africa


Two complete sets of the first edition of the first general history of music published in English, A General History of Music from the earliest ages to the present period by Charles Burney, 1776 - 1789, can be found in the libraries of the University of South Africa and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg). A third, mixed set, containing a second edition of the first volume, and first editions of the other three volumes, is in the library of the University of Cape Town. The provenance of the books is largely unknown and they are unknown and unused. The physical appearance of the books is a source of information on printing, publishing and binding practices of the 18th century. Regarding content, Burney's History remains a wellspring of observation and insight into 18th century musical life and practice.
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