Musical Sources: Past and Future — An International Conference Celebrating 70 Years of RISM

Monday, May 9, 2022

7–9 October 2022, Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz (Germany)

Founded in 1952 by representatives of the International Musicological Society (IMS) and the International Association of Music Libraries (IAML), the Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM) has long set the standard in the field of musical source studies. Over the course of seven decades, RISM’s publications have targeted a variety of source types—printed anthologies as well as editions by a single composer, music manuscripts of all sorts, writings about music and theoretical treatises—all in all covering an astonishing range both chronologically (from ancient Greece up to contemporary manuscripts) and geographically (from the Arabic world to Ibero-American sources and the music of South Korea). Along the way RISM has also anchored itself in the digital world, and its work today is primarily focused on maintaining and further enriching a freely accessible database of about 1.4 million records describing music manuscripts and printed editions.

This impressive 70-year history has inspired us to invite all those invested in the study of musical sources to an anniversary conference meant as a forum for discussing the state of musical source research, pondering the lessons of the past, and outlining some perspectives for the future. Contributions pertaining specifically to RISM are of course most welcome, whether focusing on the traditional coverage of the project, investigating the gradual changes in the treatment of certain source types, or calling attention to potential new paths yet to be discovered. But we are equally interested in presentations treating other types of musical sources that fall outside of RISM’s traditional scope, including music-related ephemera, “manuscripts” that may exist only in the form of a digital file, audio-visual materials, and more. Overall, the conference should prompt participants to reconsider what we regard as “musical sources,” and to scrutinize the diverse methods used for studying them in both the past and the foreseeable future.

The Board of Directors of the international RISM Association invites proposals for individual papers of 20 minutes related to the overarching theme. Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words and include the following: name, institutional affiliation, email address, and postal address. The language of the conference is English.

Please send your abstract as an attachment to the following email address:

The deadline for submissions is 15 June 2022. Notification of acceptance will be sent by 15 July.

The conference will take place in person in Mainz, but online participation will also be possible. The organizers will make efforts to contribute toward the travel and accommodation costs of presenters.

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