RISM B/I (Recueils imprimés XVIe Siècles) Version 2.0 - A Report from the Central Office

Monday, November 27, 2017

Longtime RISM users know that expanded entries from series B/I (printed anthologies, covering the years 1500 to 1550) were added to the online catalog in 2015. Our student worker Martin Bierwisch has been working on revising these records since April of this year, funded through support from the Kulturfond der VG Musikedition, Kassel. Martin gives us some insight into how he updates these entries:

There are currently over 550 collection parent records from B/I in the RISM online catalog and with a few exceptions these include publications only up to 1550. A further 2,200 entries, which comprise the remaining entries in B/I up to the year 1700, are in preparation. These will be imported into the online catalog and revised.

New holdings and digitalization projects
B/I was published in 1960 and was thus the very first RISM publication (RISM was founded in 1952). But seeing as the book is a good half century old already, one might say that a bit has changed since then. Collections were rediscovered, migrated (such as private collections going to public institutions), or were lost. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, not only did some RISM sigla change, but many collections in Eastern Europe were opened up. The most prominent case (in terms of items in B/I) is probably a collection of printed music in the Biblioteka Jagiellońska in Kraków, Poland (PL-Kj) which was located in Berlin before the war. This library in particular necessitated the creation of many new holdings records. But this isn’t the only library like this. In recent memory, music from Königsberg (today Kaliningrad), previously considered lost, was discovered at the Lithuanian National Library in Vilnius (LT-Vn; see 1538|4 as an example). These copies are now documented in RISM and we can expect that more discoveries like this will be made.

When revising the B/I entries, online library catalogs are of course very helpful but I especially draw upon references sources, including bibliographic studies about publishers such as Gardano and Scotto. These aid in the exact identification, and sometimes description, of items. But even these very extensive and comparatively recent studies can also stand to be updated in some parts. In her 1988 bibliography of Antonio Gardano, Mary S. Lewis wrote of the above-named Vilnius print: “The copy listed in EitS [Eitner’s Bibliographie der Musik-Sammelwerke des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts] as being in Königsberg is now lost.” Hooray, not any more!

State and national libraries, especially the large ones, are increasingly digitizing their collections. Early printed music often seems to have priority here. So far, over 300 links to digitized music have been added to the B/I records and the links keep coming. Sometimes if you’re lucky, multiple digitized copies are available for a single printed edition—in 1508|1, four of the five holding libraries have links. This is especially useful in cases where different parts have not preserved together and you don’t have enough spare change to get you to London (GB-Lbl), Munich (D-Mbs), and Vienna (A-Wn). And it is these libraries that have particularly strong digital collections.

Duplicates; or, Why do I see the same edition twice in the online catalog?
When B/I was published in 1960, preparation of A/I—which indexes works printed individually as opposed to in anthologies—was underway. As A/I was being compiled, the editors allowed certain inconsistencies, but they had their reasons. Sometimes the difference between “anthology” and “individual print” was very small, as can be seen in 1547|7 in which only the last two of seventeen pieces are by other composers. Having the A/I editors record this item a second time as an individual print had its advantages because new copies could be reported. When additional libraries were recorded, some completely unknown printed anthologies also emerged, which they wanted to publish in the interest of documenting rare early prints. This is why some prints received an A/I number in addition to their B/I number. Because data from both series were imported into the RISM online catalog, occassional duplicates came about that describe the same printed edition but may contain very different amounts of information. A/I entries usually had/have a cross-reference to their B/I number, but of course not the other way around. Not to mention the fact that working with two entries is quite impractical and confusing.

Currently I’m in the process of merging the duplicate records. Both the A/I and B/I numbers are preserved. An example of a merged record looks like this: G 268 and 1541|15.

In-depth information
A huge advantage of the RISM online catalog is the opportunity to present detailed descriptions of the printed anthologies. Full diplomatic titles are now available in addition to individual entries for the works contained in the anthologies (though these still need to be expanded). Now you can not only see names of composers along with how many works they contributed, but you can also learn which pieces they wrote.

References to secondary literature and other resources can also be helpful, whether it be the citation of a bibliographic study, a facsimile edition, or a modern performance edition.

While it used to be the case that you could only find the siglum of the holding library and a brief note about the extant parts in the printed B/I book, it is now possible in the online environment to give a more exact description that includes elements such as shelfmarks, provenance notes, and the links to digitized music I mentioned earlier.

Names of dedicatees or other people involved in some way with the print were not often recorded, but we are now indexing them more and more. Search for Pope Leo X. You will find some printed editions in B/I for which the pope granted printing privileges and is thus named on the print.

Share new information!
Information concerning any mistakes, new copies, digitized copies, and other details is most welcome! This is of course also true for items from series A/I.

So if you find a Petrucci print in your attic or make a clean sweep at the next music auction, send us a quick note! ;-)

Image courtesy of Martin Bierwisch.

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All news posts are by the 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.