This is an exciting time for anyone who wants to understand the roots of our heritage of so-called Classical or Western music, as more and more manuscript sources from long, long ago are made available digitally and in facsimile. What seems to be the earliest of the “complete works” of the 14th century’s most accomplished composer, Guillaume de Machaut, has had a more colourful history than most manuscripts: at various points in the possession of Jean, duc de Berry, Gaston Fébus, and the Marquis of Vogüé, the  The Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscript was stolen by the Nazis and stashed away by their Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg in a castle “full of pianos, accordions, violins”, and though recovered after World War II, lay almost entirely inaccessible for another generation or two.

The Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscriptarrives at The Song Company. Photograph supplied

Fortunately, the manuscript now belongs to James E and Elizabeth J Ferrell – enlightened owners who have allowed the Oxford-based Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM) to publish a beautifully-produced edition in print as well as online, thereby making it finally available to scholars and performers across the globe, and enabling practising musicians like...