Anniversary Symposium of RISM Germany

Thursday, October 19, 2023

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of RISM’s German working group, a symposium will be held on November 21 and 22 at the Bavarian State Library in Munich. The event bears the title “Musical Sources of the 19th Century in Germany: Challenges and Opportunities” and offers a series of papers as well as a concluding roundtable.

Although the music of the so-called Romantic, Late Romantic and Post-Romantic periods receives a lot of attention from both historical musicologists and performers, access to the primary musical sources of this repertory has remained decentralized and overall inconsistent, whereas older music manuscripts and printed music editions have as a rule been registered and cataloged fully, or in any case systematically, by RISM. From a sherely practical viewpoint, the exponential proliferation of musical sources in the 19th century seemed not to allow for the same comprehensive approach.

In our days the advancement of technology in particular raises the question whether the centralized cataloging of musical sources of later periods might also seem a desirable and achievable goal, after all. In the context of this symposium, preliminary ideas for such an expansion will be considered, whereby our focus will be restricted to the sources in Germany.

The papers investigate the characteristics of the (in fact increasingly diverse) source materials, seek to place specific source types in the spectrum ranging from context-bound individuality to mass occurrence, present digital alternatives for the representation of complex issues, assess technical opportunities for dealing with vast amounts of sources and data, and explore the benefits of centralized cataloging for music historiographers and performers.

A closing roundtable including performers, librarians, publishers, as well as digital and historical musicologists will bring together diverse perspectives regarding the advantages and the feasibility of a potential expansion of the traditional RISM focus towards later repertories.

Please note that the official language of the event is German. If you have any further questions or would like to register for the event, please contact Professor Nicole Schwindt at

Image: Gaspare Spontini, Fernand Cortez ou La Conquête du Mexique, Paris: Erard [ca. 1818], RISM ID no. 270001620 (RISM Catalog | RISM Online), D-Dl Mus.4308.F.515, Public Domain Mark 1.0

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