BELLMAN, Carl Michael (1740-1795). Fredmans Epistolar. -Fredmans Sänger. Stockholm: Anders Zetterberg, 1790-91.
4 parts in 2 volumes, 8° (195 x 127mm). Two parts of text in vol. I and two parts of engraved music in vol. II. Vol. I with engraved title with author portrait by Johan Fredrik Martin after Serget, opening woodcut vignette to each part; vol. II comprising engraved title to each part and 102 (numbered 3-104) and 86 pages of engraved music. (A few minor spots or faint dampstaining, small marginal repair, a few neat tears at hinges.) Contemporary black sheep-backed marbled boards, flat spines gilt with musical motif, citron spine labels (some splits internally in text block, lightly worn at extremities). Provenance: C.F. Laureu, General Krigskommissarie, 1802-1873 (pastedown inscription).
FIRST EDITION of Bellman's remarkable collection of songs, or, as he himself referred to them, 'musical poetry'. 'One of Sweden's most gifted poets' (Grove), Bellman was poet, troubadour, singer and mimic, who created a new genre of song which 'had no model and can have no successors' (Kellgren). He took the riff-raff of Stockholm as his subject and parody as his medium, and by 1779 was being compared to Hogarth. For this first edition of his greatest work Bellman revised and added new material to a corpus he had largely produced in the 1770s. His celebrated contemporary Kellgren, once Bellman's nemesis whose stinging criticisms had probably aborted an earlier projected edition of the Epistolar, edited the work, and he contributed a fulsome prologue hailing Bellman's genius without reserve. Cf. P.B. Austin, The Life and Songs of Carl Michael Bellman, 1967. RARE. RISM B-1787-1788 (citing 5 copies). (2)