Transcripts of Dramatic Musical Works in Full Score at the Library of Congress

Thursday, February 23, 2023

We have received news of a new research portal at the Library of Congress from Susan Clermont (Music Division):

A bibliography of over 600 transcripts of dramatic musical works in full score copied from original music manuscripts and early imprints for the Library of Congress’s Music Division between 1903 and 1939.

Between the years 1903 and 1939, the Music Division arranged for over 600 unprocurable dramatic musical works in full score to be copied from original music manuscripts and early imprints. The original sources were located in over three dozen European libraries in Austria, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Russia. The majority of the operas transcribed date from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; a small percentage are reproductions of nineteenth-century works.

Besides opera, the library commissioned transcripts of incidental music for dramas, melodramas, ballets, and pantomimes; and finally, a small number of rare instrumental works, mostly for viola da gamba, were transcribed over a two-year period when the parameters of this project were provisionally broadened.

One century and two World Wars later, the Library’s transcript project assume a new level of significance as 21st-century music scholars periodically inform us about the loss or destruction of an original manuscript that we had copied a century ago; in these cases, it is the transcription held at the Library of Congress that assumes the status of ‘unica.’

Please visit the Research Guide for more information, including a detailed Project History and a list of operas organized by country (with links to the transcriptions in RISM).

Image: Peter Winter, composer. Kora und Alonso. Transcript title page. 1778 (Copied 1922). The original score from which this transcript was copied - held by the Städtisches Reiss-Museum (Theater-Archiv), D-MHrm, in Mannheim, Germany - is no longer extant. Library of Congress Music Division. Public domain.

Share Tweet Email

Category: Library collections

Browse the news archive by category below or use the search box above.


Top posts

- Joseph Bologne’s “L’Amant Anonyme”
- The Public Domain in 2023
- Scott Joplin and the St. Louis World’s Fair
- The Vienna State Opera in 1955
- Elizaveta, Elisabeth, and Elizabeth

Featured posts

- A Word about RISM
- Chopin Heritage in Open Access
- Sarah Levy
- Discovering Vivaldi Sources
- Finding Unica in RISM

Send us your news

Share your news with RISM and reach an international community of scholars, musicians, librarians, and archivists. Find out more here.


All news posts are by RISM Editorial Center staff unless otherwise noted. Reuse of RISM’s own texts is permitted under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. In all other cases, please contact the individual author.