Call for Papers: Musical Sources of the 19th Century in Germany: Challenges and Opportunities

Nicole Schwindt

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

In celebration of the 70-year anniversary of the establishment of the German RISM working group, on 21 November 2023 a single-day symposium will be held in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. We are pleased to reprint here the full Call for Proposals:

The first German working group of RISM started its cataloging activities 70 years ago, and today the two groups in Munich and Dresden can rightly be considered as the “locomotive” of the Répertoire International des Sources Musicales. Although the cataloging and indexing of musical sources in Germany has reached an impressive level, and the results are available to researchers and musicians in the form of a freely accessible database, numerous collections still await processing. One area of the repertory, which has so far been registered only extensively and merged electronically, constitute the musical sources produced since the 19th century. The pragmatic nature of RISM’s objectives and the exponential increase of documents after 1800 apparently allowed for only unsystematic cataloguing.

Is it not high time we left this former maxim of RISM behind? The diversification of the musical repertory including the “Romantic,” “Late” and “Post Romantic” periods is in full swing in artistic practice, while in musicology the historical contextualization of canonized works has become a conditio sine qua non. For both target groups, the reliable investigation of the wealth of 19th-century musical sources seems to provide great, indeed essential help. At the same time, it is precisely the vast number of surviving sources that presents – besides their diversity in terms of content and material – an ongoing challenge for the inventorying..

In this threshold situation, the symposium seeks to call attention to 19th-century musical sources in general, using as illustration sources located in Germany. In particular, the following questions can be addressed globally or as individual case studies, whereby a reference to RISM is welcome but not necessary:

  • Which tendencies in music production characterize the 19th century and its individual phases or moments?
  • What is the relationship between music manuscripts and printed music?
  • Which special material forms play a role?
  • How did the relationship develop between the creators and the publishers of music?
  • What is the significance of singular sources, special repertories, serial and mass production?
  • What problems arise in finding, processing and researching these objects?
  • Which characteristics of 19th-century musical sources are relevant for the cataloging?
  • What is the relationship between virtually traceable and actually preserved or accessible sources?
  • To what extent does the large-scale referencing of, and access to, sources have consequences for historiography and artistic practice?
  • What advantages do digital methods have with respect to the cataloging and indexing of the material?
  • What options arise for quantitative approaches or “distant reading” methods?

The Board of the RISM Arbeitsgruppe Deutschland e.V. invites proposals for individual papers of 20 to 25 minutes. Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words and brief information about your professional career by no later than 15 February 2023, and include the following information: name, institutional affiliation, email address, and mailing address. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by March 15. The conference language is German, but contributions in English are also permissible. The symposium is planned as an in-person event, but for the audience online participation will also be possible. The organizing team will endeavor to offer presenters a substantial contribution toward their travel and accommodation costs. Please send your abstract and CV as attachments to the following email address: n.schwindt@doz.hfm-trossingen.de.

Image: Engelbert Humperdinck, Die Fischerin (title page), autograph manuscript, D-Bhm RH 0268 (RISM ID no. 1001053670).

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