Rare Italian Music Manuscript Collection now Available for the World to SeePosted: May 23, 2013
by James Procell, Music Library
One of the music library’s oldest and most unique collections, the Ricasoli Collection, is being fully digitized and made available through the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP). Containing more than 400 music manuscripts and early music prints belonging to the Florentine Ricasoli family, the materials in this collection range in date from 1720 to about 1850. Purchased by the School of Music in the mid-1980s under the guidance of former faculty member Robert Lamar Weaver, this collection represents one of the few Italian aristocratic family collections of music that has not been lost or dispersed due to wars, bankruptcies, or other tragedies. In addition to the numerous manuscripts, the collection also contains a great number of first edition publications, including works by Mozart and Beethoven that were published while these composers were still alive, as well as works by lesser-known Italian composers. Though the collection has been previously microfilmed and indexed in the online database Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM), the collection has long remained protected from public view. Currently housed in the music library’s archive room, this historic collection is now being made available for the world to see. In addition, this collection is the subject of a 2012 book, edited by Susan Parisi, The Music Library of a Noble Florentine Family.
IMSLP is the largest and most well-known online public domain music score website. Similar to Wikipedia, IMSLP allows contributions from everyone around the world. Our music library is one of the first libraries to directly contribute materials to this online project, which currently contains more than 239,000 scores by 7,600 composers. See the collection’s page on the IMSLP website, which currently contains 253 pieces from the collection, and continues to grow weekly.
Title page for a harpsichord concerto by Giovanni Francesco Guiliani (ca. 1760-ca. 1820). This concerto is from 1784.
First page of a quartet by Ignace Joseph Pleyel (1757-1831). This manuscript is from circa 1790.
Cover page for a copyist’s manuscript of a sonata for violin and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). This manuscript is from ca. 1803.
First page of a manuscript part, in Italian, from The Creation by Joseph Haydn (1732-1809.) A performance using these exact parts took place in Vienna on April 29, 1798.