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A Peek Inside a Composer's Mind

The works of medieval Italian composers such as Landini are beautifully copied in the Squarcialupi Codex in the UNLV Music Library.
Arts & Culture  |  Sep 26, 2013  |  By UNLV News Center
The Squarcialupi Codex. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

"Squaricialupi Codex" sounds like the title of a Dan Brown novel of Renaissance intrigue. A facsimile of the 14th century manuscript is among the marvelous finds in the collections of the UNLV Music Library. The "Squarcialupi Codex" is a collection of musical works by different 14th century composers with gold-leafed edges and full-color artwork, all originally created by hand due to the fact the printing press hadn't been invented yet.

"It's visually stunning," said Cheryl Taranto, head of the Music Library. "This had to take a lot of time to do. All the margins have artwork in them, and in medieval notations we don't see often."

The library's collection includes more than 35,000 print scores, 12,000 CDs, and 3,000 DVDs. The Music Library's collection of facsimiles of composers' manuscripts also include works by masters such as Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. These manuscripts, written in the hand of the composers, can be revealing as the compositional process, as well as offer interesting avenues for insights into their works.

"Students can look at them and see what the composer wrote with his own hand. You get a glimpse of their personalities and the way they went about composing their music," Taranto said. Some are messy, with wine spilled on them, but that's part of their charm.