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14th-century Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscript authors win AMS award

Photo of book cover "Machaut"

Image of the Machaut manuscript cover courtesy of DIAMM, and James E. and Elizabeth J. Ferrell

The American Musicological Society has awarded Carla Shapreau, and  co-authors Lawrence M. Earp of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Domenic Leo of Duquesne University, the 2015 Claude V. Palisca Award for their work on The Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscript, published by the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music, University of Oxford. This award “honors each year a scholarly edition or translation in the field of musicology published during the previous year… deemed by a committee of scholars to best exemplify the highest qualities of originality, interpretation, logic and clarity of thought, and communication.” The authors provide new insights into the history of this long illusive medieval codex by Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300—77), who many consider to be France’s greatest composer and poet of the 14th century.

Shapreau’s contribution traces the darkest chapter in the manuscript’s history when it was confiscated during the Nazi era from its owner, Georges Wildenstein, in Paris in October 1940. The Nazis transferred the manuscript to Germany, later evacuating it to the countryside for safekeeping as the war waged. In the summer of 1945 the U.S. Army discovered the Machaut manuscript secreted in a Bavarian monastery amid a remarkable cache of looted musical objects. In 1949 the U.S. repatriated the manuscript to France where it was returned to its true owner.

Shapreau is the Curator of the Department of Music’s Salz Collection of Stringed Instruments. She is also on the faculty in the School of Law and a Senior Fellow in the Institute of European Studies. The subject of her research is music-related losses during the Nazi era and their 21st-century ramifications.