17th-Century Lute Music Manuscript Barred From Leaving UK

Credit: Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Earlier this month, the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport issued a temporary export ban on an early seventeenth-century music manuscript. Said to be worth more than £200,000, the handsomely bound manuscript is “one of the most extensive and important sources of lute music” and contains 89 previously unknown pieces, according to the agency.

While the anthology has been in England for about 100 years, it is an important example of pan-European cultural exchange. The volume originated in South Germany or Austria, spent time in Zurich and Berlin collections, and contains English, Italian, and French music. It was most recently part of the music collection of instrument maker Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940).

The bar allows time for a UK buyer to step forward. If none comes forward by June 13 and no extensions are applied for, the manuscript can be sold abroad.  

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay commented, “Lute music is a vital part of our artistic heritage and there is much this anthology can teach us … I hope a buyer comes forward to save the piece for the nation.”

In recent years, the UK has banned the export of Charles Dickens' table, a fifteenth-century manuscript, and some John Gould albums.