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Reviews – Books and Magazines

The Canonbury Papers The Canonbury Papers - Vol. 2. Freemasonry in Music and Literatur
Published by Canonbury Masonic Research Centre London, 2005
The Canonbury Papers
Pages: 168
Price: £17.50
Postage and packing: UK £2.50 Europe £3.50
ISBN 0-9543498-1-4

Available from the publisher:
CMRC Bookshop

The Canonbury Masonic Research Centre has been established in 1998 in London and it is a charitable trust whose social aim is to study and investigate all the aspects of Freemasonry.

"Freemasonry in Music and Literature" is the second volume of the "Canonbury Papers" series and collects nine essays that have been delivered at the Fifth International Conference organized by CMRC in 2003.

Almost all the papers are the results of an original research, very well documented by a rich bibliography and accompanied by a considerable apparatus of explanatory notes; therefore they can be considered real studies at academic level.
The published papers, edited by Trevor Stewart, Prestonian Lecturer of the United Grand Lodge of England for the year 2004, equally cover both Music and Literature.

The most important one is undoubtedly the paper written by Professor Prescott, Director of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry at the University of Sheffield. In this 25 pages essay, the author discusses new topics concerning the origins of the Masonic manuscripts Regius and Cooke.

The traditional studies of these manuscripts considered only the literary aspect, while the author investigates them favoring the historical context in which they have been written.

The comparison of these manuscripts with others of the same time, even non Masonic, allows to determine a later dating of the "Regius" and to discover that some parts of it have been copied from other manuscripts that nothing have to do with the Guild of the Stonemasons.

Obviously, this volume cannot miss a paper on "Mozart and his contribution to the Craft", written by John Wade. Three well documented papers on Masonic music, written and sung not only at Lodge meetings in the eighteenth century, are written by Andrew Pink, Andreas Önnefors and Malcolm Davies. In virtue of the paper by this last author, the reader has an almost complete view of the major Odes, Cantatas, Marches, Songs and Oratorios created by many musicians for Freemasonry over two centuries (1700 and 1800).

Very interesting is the essay by Diane Clements, Director of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry at Freemasons' Hall, London, on the musician and conductor Michele Costa. Born in Naples in 1808, Costa studied music with Zingarelli and then moved, very young, to London, where he rapidly obtained a great success and became Director of Music at Covent Garden. Costa entered Freemasonry at the apex of his success, so his entrance was not due to take an opportunity to support his carrier, but was likely a safe way to gain social recognition in England. This testifies the great consideration and the role that Freemasonry had reached in the English society of the nineteenth century.
Also very important is Edward M. Batley's paper on Goethe and the presence of the Freemasonry values in his work. Only one, minor remark. It is a pity that the author does not mention the libretto "Die Zauberflöte" (The Magic Flute), written by Goethe after knowing Mozart's opera. Goethe imagined it as a sequel of the first opera and wanted to submit it to Mozart but he could not do it for the untimely death of the musician.
The only paper of minor value, however only five pages out of 161 this wonderful volume of CMRC is composed of, is that dedicated to Freemasonry in Russia. There is nothing new in it and seems only to summarize information already reported in other works. Likely my opinion is stressed by the fact that I have just reviewed the basic text "A Rosicrucian Utopia in Eighteenth-Century Russia", by Prof. Raffaella Faggionato, University of Udine, Italy, published by Springer.
This second volume of the "Canonbury Papers" is the clear evidence of the "keystone" role that the Canonbury Masonic Research Centre performs within the ambit of the studies on Freemasonry. A volume that anyone who is interested in studying the relationships between Freemasonry and Arts should read and that should be present in every Lodge library.

 

The Canonbury Papers ARS QUATUOR CORONATORUM
Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge NO. 2076, Volume 117/2004 Published in October 2005
The Canonbury Papers

Pages: 344

Paperback:
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ISBN 1-905318-44-8

Hardback
Price: £22.00 + p/p: £5.00
ISBN 1-905318-43-X

Also available on CD-Rom:
Price £10.00 p/p included.
 

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As per well-established tradition, also this volume 117 of the Transactions of the research Lodge Quatuor Coronati no. 2076 of London contains papers that have great value for whom who studies history of Freemasonry. Brother Trevor Stewart’s essay stands out among the others; the paper, “English Speculative Freemasonry: Some Possible Origins, Themes and Developments”, is also the Prestonian lecture for the year 2004. The author starts from the assumption that Freemasonry, in its form of Institution both social and moralistic-scientific, was the creation of men belonging to the English Enlightenment of the first decades of the nineteenth century.
Unlike the fictionalized statements of many Freemasonry scholars, the author does not consider “real Freemasonry” the one that was practiced in Medieval Guilds or the one originating from esoteric religions or hermetic Orders.

The study of the author is also based on the exam of the books in the private libraries of some of the most eminent representatives of English Enlightenment who were also Freemasons.
Very interesting is also the paper by Lisa Kahler and Robert Cooper, curator of the Library and Museum of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in Edinburgh, which describes the discovery and the content of a Masonic manuscript of 1705, found short time ago in Dundee: the Airle Manuscript. This Scottish manuscript, for what regards the text, is almost like other two Scottish manuscripts: the Edinburg Register House MS 1696 and the Chetwood Crawley MS c.1700, the latter found in Ireland.

The existence of three almost contemporaneous manuscripts, with almost the same text, yet found in different areas, has made the authors think that probably, in the beginning of the nineteenth century there was a diffusion of a pattern of Masonic rules that were the same in a vast area of the country.
A witness of the beginning of a net of related Lodges, which had as mother the Lodge of Kilwinning.

In this volume 117 is also published the Prestonian Lecture for the year 2003, by Aubrey Newman, on “The Contribution of the Provinces to the Development of English Freemasonry”.

Those who are interested in Masonic jewels will find an accurate study by Timothy Kent on Thomas Harper, Masonic jeweler, and on his manufacture of Masonic jewels in the period between the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries; some of the most interesting jewels are also illustrated by colored images.

As it can be seen from the index of this volume 177, reproduced on this page, in these Transactions there are also many others interesting subjects for the Masonic student.