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Grassineau, Musical Dictionary (1740): Hans Theodore David

By Abby Bilson and Katie Malquest

The Library of Theodore David

The Library of Theodore David

Gifted to the RBI through the will of Hans Theodore David, a prominent musicologist and author of J. S. Bach's Musical Offering: History, Interpretation, and Analysis (1945), this dictionary resides in the David Collection, D13-22. Published in 1740, and revised in 1769 to include an additional appendix, this hardcover-bound dictionary contains 347 pages printed through a combination of engraved and woodblock type. This dictionary is a first edition, though not in first printing.  A first edition is a book that has been printed and distributed for the first time; a first printed book is a book printed for the first time. This dictionary includes foldouts of musical diagrams, as well as handwritten comments in the margins, adding to the history of this specific copy. The contents of this work are a collection of musical terms, phrases, and instruction translated from Greek, Latin, Italian, and French into the vernacular, English.

This work is dedicated to the Princess Amelia of Great Britain, the second daughter of King George II and Queen Caroline, and arguably the King’s favorite. This ostentatious dedication may be an effort to win the endorsement of the King in this publication. The intended nature of this dictionary was to educate as many minds as possible, aligned with the quest to solidify, and make accessible, knowledge for the common man, so what better method of credibility than a stamp of approval from a major patron?