Peter Leech completed his PhD in musicology in 2004 awarded by Anglia Ruskin University, with a thesis entitled ‘Music and Musicians at the Stuart Catholic Courts, 1660-1718’, supervised by leading seventeenth-century specialist Dr Peter Holman.
Initial study plans were focussed upon the instrumental music of Louis Grabu (Master of the King’s Music from around 1665-1673 and a foreign Catholic with close associations with the London Catholic community) and many of his colleagues at the early Restoration court (1660-88).
It soon became apparent that an area more in need of scholarly examination was that of music associated with the Recusant Catholic Community in the British Isles during the second half of the seventeenth century, much of which was generated within, sponsored by or strongly associated with the Catholic Royal households of Catherine of Braganza, Henrietta Maria, Mary of Modena and James II.
The primary aim of Peter’s research therefore shifted towards setting the careers of Catholic musicians at the Restoration Catholic courts in greater context, as well as items of musical repertory composed by, or associated with them.
In the process, he identified hitherto unknown music by Innocenzo Fede (James II’s Italian maestro di cappella at his lavish Whitehall Catholic chapel) and shed further light on the careers of Miguel Ferreira, Matteo Battaglia and Timotheo di Faria, musicians employed by Catherine of Braganza from the 1660s to early 1690s. He also produced several articles and conference papers.
Peter’s research highlighted the importance of Stuart Court Catholicism to the history of music in the latter years of the seventeenth century, a phenomenon long regarded as peripheral to the mainstream development of music in the British Isles and yet one which had an important bearing upon the creation of numerous important works of art, music and literature created both at home and abroad.
Set against the background of Peter’s primary research interests, his discovery in 2004 of a late seventeenth-century keyboard manuscript, whose provenance indicates strong connections with the Catholic recusant community during the same period, is therefore a remarkable coincidence.
Now known as the ‘Selosse Manuscript’, after the person ‘Antonio Mason alias Seloss’, to whom its contents were attributed in a flyleaf, it is available in a modern edition edited by Leech and published by Edition HH, the introduction of which makes the case for ‘Seloss’ being the Jesuit musician Antoine Selosse, SJ, (1621-87), organist and choirmaster at the English Jesuit College at St Omer from 1659 until his death.
The contents of the manuscript are now available on a world-premiere recording by Terence Charlston on the Deux-Elles label, containing detailed CD sleeve notes discussing the provenance of the manuscript and stylistic features of the contents. Andrew O’Connor praised the recording highly in the October 2010 edition of International Record Review, commenting that ‘This sort of happy accident plus solid scholarship and musical flair is exactly why being an Early Music CD collector is so endlessly rewarding.’
We know from a flyleaf inscription that the manuscript was given to a Mary Cicely Tichborne (not yet conclusively identified, despite intensive research, but possibly a member of the Catholic Tichborne family) by Toussaint la Poülle S.J., a French member of the English Jesuit province who had been stationed at St Omer in the 1690s. Toussaint died suddenly in England whilst en route to the English Jesuit mission in Maryland.
It may never be known when or how the manuscript passed from Toussaint to Mary, nor is it known when or how Toussaint acquired it, but a likely scenario is that he obtained it from someone associated with music at St Omers. The transfer to Mary (who may have been a Catholic Nun) could have taken place somewhere in the Low Countries in the two decades before 1710, but also in England in the last months of Toussaint’s life.
One item in the manuscript, known as ‘The King’s Hunt’, is by John Bull. A Suite in G major and an allemande from a D major suite are both almost identical to works attributed to the English composer John Roberts. Andrew Woolley has also identified textual concordances, dating from around 1710, for a Chaconne in C major.
A handful of items (including the ‘Roberts’ G major Suite and 14 sections of a monumental set of ‘La Folia’ variations in D minor) are also found in a manuscript owned by Christopher Hogwood (GB-CAMhogwood, M1471), although there are no accompanying attributions. The Hogwood manuscript also has several features which suggest much or part of it was possibly created in a Recusant musical environment.
Whilst the appearance of the Bull and Roberts pieces demonstrates that Selosse could not have been the author of the whole manuscript named after him, several other items have not yet been identified in other contemporary sources. The possibility of his authorship of some of these items therefore remains strong.
Some pieces display strong hints of liturgical usage, such as a D major Fuga based on the plainsong for ‘Ite missa est’, and a C major ‘Toccata’ which calls for the use of the vox humana (solo reed) stop, suggesting their having been composed or copied by an organist or, at the very least, someone working within an ecclesiastical environment.
This argument has been further taken up by Terence Charlston in ‘Concealed within? Liturgical Organ Music in the Selosse Manuscript’, The Organ, August-October 2010, pp.15-20.
The scholar José Quitin has demonstrated that an Antoine Selosse had been an organist at St Lambert’s Cathedral, Liège, from around 1651-1657, and circumstantial evidence suggests he may be the same man who later went to St Omer. Little is known of the career of Selosse the Jesuit (b.1621) before his entering the order in 1658.
The discovery of the ‘Antoine Selosse Manuscript’ led to initial collaboration between Peter Leech and leading expert in the history of Jesuit education, Professor Maurice Whitehead, in the Department of History at Swansea University. In 2008 Peter was appointed to an Honorary Research Fellowship in the same department, and is now working with Whitehead on an interdisciplinary collaborative project: ‘Recusant Music and Musicians c.1600-1750’.
Peter is also currently revisiting and expanding areas of his PhD research, including work on the Catholic Chapel of James II, musical life in seventeenth-century English convents in the Low Countries and more thorough investigation of the cultural life of Jesuit colleges at St Omer and in the wider Southern Netherlands during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
Other research activities include the editing of a Requiem setting by the nineteenth-century Bohemian composer Joseph Holub (active in the early nineteenth century) from an autograph manuscript, and songs by the nineteenth-century Bristol composer and child prodigy William Sidney Pratten (also an autograph manuscript), dating from the 1840s and 1850s.
In 2013 Peter embarked upon a new research path: the rediscovery of the forgotten musical patronage of one of the leading figures of the Stuart court-in-exile, Cardinal Henry Benedict Stuart (1725-1807), who spent most of his life in Rome. The fruits of Peter’s research have brought forth a new CD recording by Harmonia Sacra, Princely Splendour, released on the Nimbus Alliance label in 2014 , featuring first recordings of choral works by some of Cardinal Henry’s composers.
The CD has been followed by a new article, ‘Princely Splendour: Cardinal Henry Stuart and Music Patronage in 18th-century Rome’, which will appear in the 2015 edition of The Consort.
Articles by Peter Leech
‘ “In Paradise and Among Angels”, Music and musicians at St.Omers English Jesuit College, 1593-1721’ (Joint article with Professor Maurice Whitehead), TVNM (Tijdschrift van der Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, 2011, pp.57-82.
‘Seventeenth-century music at St Omers’, Stonyhurst Magazine, Vol. 56 No 505 (2009) pp.56-64.
‘Catholic musicians in Restoration London’, Genealogists’ Magazine 29 (March 2003): pp.391-97.
‘Desgranges, Claude (fl.1660-91)’, Revised New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2001: Vol.7, pp.236-7.
‘La Volée, Jean’, (fl.1660-91)’, Revised New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2001: Vol.14, p.390.
The Antoine Selosse Keyboard Manuscript (Bicester: Edition HH, 2008). Newly-discovered seventeenth-century keyboard music by Antoine Selosse (1621-87), professor of music at the English Jesuit College at St Omer in Flanders (c.1659-85). 92 pages of music, 8 of editorial commentary, in A4 oblong format.
Innocenzo Fede (c.1661-1731) – Laudate pueri dominum for double choir (Cheltenham: Parish Publications, 1999) 13 pages of music, 1 page of editorial commentary in B4 format.
Innocenzo Fede – Nunc dimittis for double choir, strings and continuo (Cheltenham: Parish Publications, 1999) 19 pages of music, 1 page of editorial commentary in B4 format.
Book, music and CD reviews
George Frideric Handel, Chandos Anthems; Handel in the Playhouse; Parnasso in Festa; Te Deum in D major, Eighteenth-century Music (Vol. 7 No.2, September 2010), pp.305-309.
‘Handel’s Legacy’, Handel Studies (Pendragon, 2009); Handel’s Will (London, 2008), Early Music 37 (November 2009), pp.657-660.
‘Recusant song’; Martin Peerson, Private Musicke (1620), Richard Dering motets, Ed.Jonathan Wainwright Musica Britannica (2006), Early Music (August, 2009), pp.485-487.
‘Stuart devotional music’; John Blow Motets, Ed. Jonathan Wainwright, York Early Music Press (2006), Early Music 35 (February 2007), pp.644-647.
‘An academic defense’; Domenico Allegri, Music for an academic Defense (Rome, 1617), Ed. Antony John, A-R Editions Inc, 2005 – Archivum Historicum Societatis Jesu (2006): pp.261-4.
‘Regal Handel’; Handel and the English Chapel Royal, Donald Burrows (Oxford University Press, 2005), Early Music 34 (February 2006), pp.143-146.
‘Records of the Chapel Royal’; The Cheque Books of the Chapel Royal ed. Ashbee & Harley (Aldershot, 2000), Early Music 29 (August 2001), pp.456-7.
Compact disc sleeve notes
La Chasse Royale, The Antoine Selosse Manuscript (Terence Charlston, Deux-Elles, 2010).
Violino o Cornetto, (Canzona, Theresa Caudle, Nimbus, 2010).
Adoremus, Bristol Bach Choir (Live concert recording, Gloucester Cathedral, 2003).
Conference papers and lectures
‘Music and musicians at the St.Omers English Jesuit College, 1593-1720’, KVNM, Amsterdam, November 2010
The life and music of Thomas Arne (1710-1778), 300th anniversary lecture, Winscombe Arts Appreciation Society, September 2010.
‘Spent too soon for so long a preparation’: Late seventeenth-century celebrations in Rome for King James II of England’, Early Modern Rome (Rome, May 2010).
‘Music, art and patronage at the Court of James II, 1685-88’, Wells Evening Society, April 2009.
‘Music and Musicians at the seventeenth-century English Jesuit College at St.Omers’, Cambridge University Music Faculty Seminar, January 2009.
‘Singing the Lord’s Song in a strange land’; Matthew Locke (1622-77) and the London Catholic community, British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (Oxford, January 2009).
‘Power, panoply and passion; baroque art, music and ceremony at the court of James II’, The Brockley Lecture, September 2008.
‘Another Lady Nevil’s Book: a hitherto unknown English source of late seventeenth-century instrumental and vocal music’, 13th International Conference on Baroque Music, (Leeds, July 2008).
‘Music, art and literature at the court of James II’ (Winscombe Arts Appreciation Society, 2007).
‘A New Source of Seventeenth-Century Keyboard music – the Antoine Selosse manuscript’, 12th International Conference on Baroque Music (Warsaw, July, 2006).
‘A new source of instrumental and vocal music by Innocenzo Fede –Berkeley Manuscript MS 118’, 11th International Conference on Baroque Music (Manchester, July 2004).
‘Musicians in the Catholic Chapel of James II, 1685-1688’, 10th International Conference on Baroque Music (La Rioja, July 2002).
‘Musicians in the Catholic Chapel of Catherine of Braganza, 1662-92’, Society for Court Studies (Somerset House, London, October 2001).
‘Musicians in the Catholic Chapel of Catherine of Braganza 1662-92’, Society for Seventeenth-Century Music (Lancaster, PA, April 2001).
‘Jacques Paisible, a French musician at the Restoration Court’, Dance Music conference (New College, Oxford, June 1999).
‘Claude Desgranges and sources of petits motets in England 1660-1690’, Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles (Royaumont, April 1998).