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Type of Item
This antiphonary (a book containing the choral parts of the Holy Office) was transferred to the Biblioteca comunale degli Intronati di Siena in 1811 from its place of origin, the Augustinian monastery of San Salvatore in Lecceto near Siena. By virtue of its specific liturgical function, the antiphonary, designed for the use of the monastic community, contains both the daytime and the nocturnal services. It was illuminated in 1442 as part of an extensive artistic program within the monastery promoted under priors Bartolomeo Tolomei and Girolamo Buonsignori. A bull by ...
Playing with Fire: Operetta in Three Acts
Francisco Asenjo Barbieri (1823–94) is one of the best known figures in the history of Spanish music. He was a composer, musicologist, director, and bibliophile. The core music holdings of the National Library of Spain consist of Barbieri’s own library, which he bequeathed to the institution in his will. Barbieri’s bequest is one of the most important sources for the history of Spanish music. The national library also acquired, in 1999, Barbieri’s personal archive, which includes autographed scores. The relationship between Barbieri and the national library ...
Carmen. Opera in Four Acts, Based on the Short Story by Prosper Mérimée
Although Carmen is today one of the world’s most popular operas, it opened at the Paris Comic Opera on March 3, 1875, to a mixed reception, much to the disappointment of its composer, Georges Bizet (1838-75). Bizet was one of the leaders of a new generation of French composers, and Carmen was the pinnacle of his career. The libretto, adapted from Prosper Mérimée’s short story by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, seemed scandalous to many who attended the opera. Célestine Galli-Marié (1840-1906), who played the role of Carmen ...
This Greek text on papyrus, written around 200 BC in Hermopolis, Egypt, has seven lines of writing containing parts of verses 338–344 from the first chorus of Orestes. Composed in 408 BC by the Greek tragedian Euripides (circa 480 BC–406 BC), the play recounts the story of Orestes, who kills his mother Clytaemnestra to avenge the death of his father, Agamemnon, and is pursued by the Furies for this deed. In addition to a passage of a chorus song (stasimon), the fragment contains vocal and instrumental symbols written ...
Canticles of Saint Mary
There are four manuscripts of the Cantigas de Santa María (Canticles of Saint Mary): this copy from the National Library of Spain that formerly belonged to the Biblioteca Capitular in Toledo, two copies in the Escorial, and one in Florence, similar to the Toledan copy, but unfortunately missing some content. Written during the rule of Alfonso X, King of Castile and Leon (also known as Alfonso el Sabio, Alfonso the Wise), the canticles are a collection of monodic songs, in Galician language and mensural notation, in honor of the Virgin ...
The Magic Flute
Die Zauberflöte (The magic flute) is among the best known of the 22 operas written by the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91). Mozart composed the opera in the spring and summer of 1791, with the exception of the Overture and the March of the Priests at the beginning of Act II. These parts were completed only a few days before the premiere on September 30 of that year. Shown here is Mozart’s original manuscript score. During the initial phase of work, Mozart normally wrote only the melody ...
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) composed six cantatas for the Christmas holidays in 1734, one to be performed on each of the individual feast days during the services in Leipzig’s main churches, Saint Thomas and Saint Nicolai. The running narrative of the Gospel, as well as the keys in which the framing musical statements were composed, give the cantatas the character of a self-contained cycle. For most of the arias and choruses, Bach added new text to music derived from his earlier compositions, most notably from two congratulatory cantatas ...
Cruel Tyrant Love
This previously unknown version of the solo cantata, Crudel tiranno Amor (Cruel tyrant Love) by George Friedrich Handel (1685–1759), resurfaced in a newly discovered, complete autograph score among the many posthumous estates housed in the Music Department of the Bavarian State Library. It was found in a miscellany of 18 manuscripts formerly owned by the well-known cultural historian, musicographer, and novelist Wilhelm Heinrich von Riehl (1823–97). The sensational discovery was made in 2004 by the musicologist Dr. Berthold Over, who succeeded in identifying the manuscript’s anonymous Italian ...
When the Last Stars Begin to Fade
The autograph of this hitherto unknown song by Franz Liszt (1811–86), Wenn die letzten Sterne bleichen (When the last stars begin to fade), was discovered in 2007 among the papers of Count Franz von Pocci (1807–76) in the manuscript department of the Bavarian State Library. Pocci, an ingenious caricaturist, poet, musician, composer, founder of the Kasperltheater, jurist, and master of ceremonies in the age of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, met Liszt on his concert tour through southern Germany in 1843. In Munich, Liszt stayed at the Hotel ...
15th-century Missal, with Notes and Initials
This musical manuscript at the Bavarian State Library is decorated with 15 initials with tendrils. The initials frame pictures and refer to the chorales of the church year. For stylistic reasons, scholars have dated these illuminations to the last decade of the 15th century and ascribed them to the illustrious Renaissance painter Berthold Furtmeyr (circa 1435/40–circa 1501) and his school. Furtmeyr and his followers were important contributors to the age-old Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg) school of illumination. An artist of great renown, Furtmeyr illuminated many impressive works, including this ...
With its 181 gold and silver initials, four picture pages on purple ground, and two miniature pages, the so-called Eberhard Psalter is among the most magnificent monuments of Bavarian illumination in the first quarter of the 11th century. The manuscript contains the 150 psalms with commentaries, as well as additional liturgical songs and a confession of faith. It takes its name from Count Eberhard of Ebersberg (died circa 1041–45), who is said to have donated the psalter to the Benedictine convent of Geisenfeld, which he had founded. The manuscript ...
Der Einsiedler, Opus 144a
The manuscript score of Der Einsiedler (The hermit), Opus 144a by the German composer Max Reger (1873–1916) after the poem by Joseph Eichendorff (1788–1857), was donated by Elsa Reger, widow of the composer, to Reger’s former pupil Hermann Poppen. It was acquired by the Bavarian State Library in 1991. Reger composed the song for baritone, five-voice choir, and orchestra in Jena in summer 1915. The staff paper he used was originally prepared for the composition of his Requiem Mass (WoO V/9), which he started in 1914 ...
Order for the Lord's Supper
This German text of the Ordnu[n]g des Herren Nachtmal (Order for the Lord's Supper) provides an inside view of the developing Christian Reformation in the 16th century. Martin Bucer (1491–1551) led the reforms in Strassburg (present-day Strasbourg, France), and this pamphlet of 24 pages documents the changes underway in the mass—the central liturgical service of the church—and in the rite of baptism and the blessing of marriage. The Ordnung includes printed music for the sung parts of the liturgy as well as woodcuts of ...