Music Collection Department - History of the collection

The Music Cabinet has been created in 1949 (it was re-named to Music Collection Department as part of re-organization of Library in 1961) to gather music materials.

The beginnings of music collections from Wroclaw University Library are connected with historical libraries of Wroclaw – pre-war City Library, University Library and collections from various Silesian libraries. Almost 3 thousands volumes of prints from 16th and 17th centuries originate from pre-war City Library (Stadtbibliotek), small part form pre-war University Library (Universitätsbibliothek), and very differential group of materials originated from restricted music collections – from provincial libraries form Lower Silesia region. Former City Library, which building is now used by general collections of Wroclaw University Library, has been created in years 1865-1867 by merging collections of three Wroclaw’s libraries: patrician Thomasa Rhedigera’s (late in 1576) library, library of St. Mary Magdalene Church (music scores from this collection are marked with sign "Ex Bibl. ad aed. Mar. Magdal.”, like e.g. unique print of Silesian composer Samuel Besler Delitiarum mensalium apparatus harmonicus, Wroclaw 1615) [available in DL] and from library of St. Bernard Church (with stamp "Bibl. Bernhard. Vrat.”). Lack of composers in the 17th century in Wroclaw forced to turn interest to foreign composers, including ones from Italy. In the result there is significant number of Italian prints from 16th and 17th centuries in collection, many of them are very unique. It is possible, that those prints originated from donation of Daniel Sartorius (late in 1671), who worked in Protestant church of St. Elizabeth and was great collector of sacred music scores.

In 1883 first printed catalog of Wroclaw’s music collections has been published Bibliographie der Musik-Druckwerke, edited by Emil Bohn, that describes music prints from 16th and 17th centuries from three libraries: former City Library, Academic Institute of Sacred Music and former University Library. From materials, that were cataloged in this publication, currently in Music Collection Department are: 70% of collections from former City Library (30% has been lost during war), few items from former University Library, that have survived last war. Collections from Academic Institute of Sacred Music has been included into Music Section of University of Wrocław, that functioned in years 1945-1952, and after its closure, has been shipped out to Warsaw.

Collections of music scores from 18th to 20th century from former City Library (Stadtbibliothek) has handwritten volume catalog (so called Bandkatalog), that was systematically filled with new descriptions till the end of that library, and alphabetical paper card catalog. Both of them included information concerning music prints and manuscripts.

From pre-war University Library, no catalogs of music collections prevailed, besides printed catalog by Fr. Kuhn, that describes only collection of one provenance.

During the Second World War music collections from German libraries were partially evacuated to various places in Silesian region, and in this way saved from total destruction, but music collections from former University Library, which building from 1944 served as German army headquarters, were almost completely destroyed during fire, that consumed library’s building and nearby church.

After war, to 1947, operation of re-collecting dispersed materials to newly created (in 1946) Wroclaw University Library was conducted. Part of team sent for securing of materials were prof. Stanisław Kulczyński and prof. Antoni Knot – first director of post-war University Library.

It must be stressed out, that to collections merged into WUL’s Music Cabinet after the war were not included two historical collections from pre-war Wroclaw’s libraries: 1) music manuscripts from 16th-17th centuries from former City Library (Stadtbibliothek) [described in printed catalog: Emil Bohn, Die musikalischen Handschriften des XVI. und XVII.Jahrhunderts in der Stadtbibliothek zu Breslau. Breslau 1890; reprinted: Hildesheim 1970] – that is currently in possession of Berlin State Library (Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, Musikabteilung, Unter den Linden 8, D-10102 BERLIN); 2) collections of pre-war Academic Institute of Sacred Music (Königliches Akademisches Institut für Kirchenmusik bei der Universität Breslau, later renamed to Musikalisches Institut bei der Universität Breslau) - that were included in 1945 into Music Section of University of Wrocław, and in 1952 were taken to University of Warsaw Library (University of Warsaw Library, Music Department, Dobra 56/66 St., 00-312 Warsaw).

Most important groups of collections

Within collections, special place holds Italian prints from first half of 17th century (circa 300 items) and Silesian prints from 16th to 18th century. Most valuable music materials are Offertoria and Communiones (vocal books S I ch/S, T I ch/T, A II ch/A and T) by Mikołaj Zieleński, Polish composer from Renaissance age, published in Venice in 1611, unique prints by Biagio Marinie: Sonate, symphonie (Venice 1629) and Affetti musicali (Venice 1617) with new music form – sonata for fiddles with basso continuo; prints with scores by Claudio Monteverdie, Orlando di Lasso, Heinrich Schütz; Italian prints published in Venice print houses of Alessandro Vincenti and Bartolomeo Magni; published in Venice by Alessandro Vincenti in 1623 Il terzo libro de varie sonate, sinfonie, gagliarde, brandi e corrente per sonar due violini da braccio et un chittarone o altro stromenti simile, composed by Salomone (Salamon) Rossi and his Madrigaletti with compositions on string instruments; unique specimen of print Canzoni, fantasie et correnti (Venice 1638) by Bartolomeo de Selma e Salaverde dedicated to Jan Karol Waza, bishop of Wroclaw; first opera of Monteverdi - L’Orfeo (Venice 1615). Collection also holds numbers of Italian cantatas to Petrarch’s texts, e.g. printed in Florence collection of profane songs by Pietro Benedetti. Important group of materials are works of Silesian composers from 16th and 17th centuries, i.e. Samuel Besler and Simon Besler, Johannes Knoeffel, Simone BarIona Madelka, Ambrosius Profe.

One of the most precious provenance collection, from materials gathered in Music Collections Department, is historical collection of music prints and manuscripts of Jan Chrystian from Brzeg (late in 1639) repository, that was delivered by his sons to the Library of King’s Grammar School in Brzeg, and from 1890 become possession of former University Library (Universitätsbibliothek) in Wroclaw. Catalog of this collection, created by Friedrich Kuhn in 1897 indicates, that almost whole of it prevailed to our times (159 vol. of manuscripts and music prints from 14th to 17th century, jointly 419 vocal books).

Music prints from 18th century, that are present in Department’s collection, mostly reflect tendencies and production of biggest publishing houses of that time (e.g. Breitkopf, Hoffmeister, Artaria, André) and local ones from Silesia region (e.g. Korn). Besides very valuable editions of instrumental music classics from 18th century, among materials are also editions of stage music, that was very popular in that time, and now is available in arrangements for piano.

Thematically separated group of the music prints held within Department are prints on music theory, tractates, text-books, sermons and thesis regarding music issues, as well as publication, that have separated chapters dedicated to music – published from 15th to 18th century. Nowadays, there are sources of knowledge about status of music theory in Silesian Region (some part of this prints are present also in Old Prints Department).

Music manuscripts present in Department’s collections originates mostly from 18th-20th century. They consist of compositions, that present very differential merithorical and formal level, and most of this thesecame from Silesia region, and generally, from German language region. Very important are also handwritten liturgical codexes that representing music antiques from middle ages. They are stored in Manuscripts Department.

Collections of new music prints (published after 1800), besides post-war Polish production gathered on basis of mandatory copy and from other sources, also holds many rare and valuable publications, including first editions, from 19th and beginnings of 20th century, not only from Germany, but also from other countries. To most precious of them belong to the Leipzig’s editions of Ludwig van Beethoven’s works, Paris’ editions of Frederic Chopin’s scores, several editions of scores by Jozef Ignacy Paderewski, first edition of Claude Debussy’s compositions. Within collections are also held music prints from Polish publishing houses of that time: from Warsaw (Brzezin, Gebethner and Wolff, Idzikowski), Lviv (Seyfarth, Gubrynowicz, Czajkowski), Cracow (Krzyżanowski), Vilnius (Zawadzki, Orzeszkowa) and others. Library tries to acquire more of them all the time, and so, by purchases, collections were enlarged with first editions of works of Stanislaw Moniuszko, Warsaw’s prints of scores by Aleksander Rozycki and Zygmunt Noskowski. Together with previously gathered, this new acquisitions creates worthy of recommendation collection of music from 19th and 20th centuries.