One of the First Accounts in English of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with PortraitDaines Barrington. Miscellanies. London: J. Nichols, 1781.
First edition. Quarto. iv, viii, 557, [1, errata and binder's instructions] pages. With two engraved portraits, two engraved maps (one folding), and five charts.
Contemporary marbled boards, expertly rebacked to style in brown calf, smooth spine with gilt rules and decorations, original red morocco gilt spine label, and original calf tips, a little soiled and bumped. Overall, this is an excellent copy; exceedingly clean, complete and without any previous owner's marks.
"Contains a curious collection of articles, including Mourelle's Journal of a voyage in 1775, to explore the coast of America, northward of California, by the second pilot of the fleet, Don Francisco Antonio Maurelle, in the King's schooner, called the Sonora, and commanded by Don Francisco de la Bodega. This is the first edition of the only contemporary account in English of this important voyage fitted out by the Viceroy of Mexico to explore the northwest coast of America. Mourelle served as secretary to the Viceroy and later wrote another work relating to the voyage of the frigate Princessa to the Pacific Ocean, in 1780-81. His account was used by Captain James Cook on his third Voyage. Also included is Tracts on the possibility of approaching the North Pole, in which are laid down the results of numerous inquiries addressed to whaling captains, especially to those who frequented the coasts of Labrador and Greenland. The whole comprises a compilation of extraordinary value for the geography of the northern regions, including Alaska" (Hill).
This fascinating assemblage also contains natural history essays (with one on the Linnaean system) and four essays on geniuses of the day, including one of the first accounts in English of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (portrait included). "Daines Barrington presented a particularly vivid picture of the childhood genius to his colleagues at the Royal Society in London [first published in book form here]. He described Mozart's ability to improvise operative music, singing and accompanying himself at the keyboard, to imaginary Italian texts on the subjects of love and betrayal. He also placed before the boy an unfamiliar duet: without the slightest hesitation the lad assigns the alto part to his father, sings the soprano himself, realizes the figured bass and throws in the violin parts as necessary. This feat involves reading several different clefs simultaneously, the difficulty of which Barrington attempted to explain to his musically untrained colleagues by comparing it to the simultaneous reading of several poems, each possessing its own character, expression, and declamatory rules, and each written in a different alphabet. Barrington's report illustrates the fascination that the young boy engendered not only in concert audiences, but also in the scientific world" (Mozart and the Keyboard Culture of His Time, an online exhibit by the Cornell University Library Division of Rare Books and Manuscripts (Ithaca, New York: 2002)).
Hill, p. 13. Howes B177. Lada-Mocarski 34. Streeter 2445.
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