London: T. Davison, 1815. Item #05556
With a Wonderful Hand Colored Frontispeice by George Cruikshank
Depicting the Pains of Listening to a Young Child's Singing
CRUIKSHANK, George, illustrator. PITMAN, Ambrose. The Miseries of Musick-Masters: Including the Art of Fingering Key'd Instruments, and Introductory Rudiments of the Practice of Harmonicks. A Serio Comick Didactick Poem. By Ambrose Pitman, Esq. London: printed by T. Davison, 1815.
First edition. Large quarto (10 3/4 x 8 1/4 inches; 273 x 210 mm.). [iv], , 2-69, [1, blank], [1, errata], [1, imprint] pp.
With a fine hand colored frontispiece by George Cruikshank (with see page 64 in faded ink on lower blank margin). Some scattered marginal foxing to text.
Bound by Bayntun-Rivière ca. 1960 in three quarter black morocco over marbled boards, spine with five raised bands ruled and lettered in gilt in compartments. With the bookplate of Alan Fortunoff on front paste-down.
The satirical hand colored frontispiece depicts a family gathered around a piano: a child sings, to the greatest pride of his mother and his sister, but the cat, the dog and the music teacher seem horrified: their painful looks say a lot about the talent of the toddler.
"While Dicky Marrowbone did bellow,
She, like Maestro di Capella*
Beat time, as she thought, with her fan,
As Dicky through his 'wild notes' ran;
And when he finish'd, look'd around,
Amaz'd that no applause was found." (page 64, lines 865-870).
Rare: The last copy to appear at auction was at Sotheby's, London in 1979.
OCLC locates just eight copies in libraries and institutions worldwide: Five in the US; two in the UK & one in Germany.
"Ambrose Pitman (1763-1817) was a London musician and teacher. His The Miseries of Musick Masters was published in 1815. Sub-titled 'A Serio Comick Didactick Poem' it parodies the Augustan manner in almost a thousand lines, adding to the reproaches suggested by its title versified instruction on rudiments and fingering. Something of its style may be conveyed by a few opening couplets:
What Miseries has Heaven designed
To plague and punish human kind!
Some more, some less, yet few as much
As him who well the Lyre can touch,
And from his merit, oft incurs
The plaudits of the Theatres…
The book is well got up, with a hand-coloured frontispiece by George Cruikshank, and it must have been costly to produce. One is left wondering why Pitman should have gone to the expense of publishing it. For though later sections deal with musical rudiments, the reader being addressed is clearly not a child… Pitman's book was meant to demonstrate not only his musical erudition but his attributes as a well-educated gentleman." (Bernarr Rainbow on Music).