Martorell Collection of Opera Scores Now Online from the Library of Congress

Karen Lund

Thursday, October 21, 2021

We have received the following from Karen Lund (Library of Congress):

The Music Division of the Library of Congress is happy to announce the launch of a new digital collection, the “Martorell Collection,” at:

The largest subset of the “Martorell Collection” includes 253 uniformly-bound volumes comprising well over 1,100 full scores of excerpts predominantly from 18th-century operas, and it is these scores that are available digitally. Contributions from close to ninety individual composers are included with Domenico Cimarosa being the most represented (130 works); and, while the majority of selections are by Italian composers, excerpts by Spanish (e.g., Manuel Espinosa de los Monteros), Portuguese (e.g., Marcos Antonio Portugal), and German (e.g., Johann Adolph Hasse) composers are interspersed throughout. Many of the arias found in these 253 volumes are of considerable value since the obscure operas from which they were extracted are otherwise not represented in our collections.

More background information about the Martorell Collection: In 1910, the Music Division purchased an extensive collection of copyist music manuscripts that we believe were once owned by the family of Alonso Tomás Álvarez de Toledo y Silva (1835-1895), X Marqués de Martorell and his wife Genoveva Samaniego y Pando, VII Marquesa de Casa Pontejos. Upon arrival, it was clear that provenance information for the collection was extremely limited: the “Marquise de Martorell” was mentioned as a former owner and the collection had reportedly been on exhibit at the Paris International Exposition in 1900 where it was honored by the jurors who described it as sui generis. Today, besides knowing the name of a former owner, we still have very little information about this “one of a kind” collection.

Image: Domenico Cimarosa, duet “Vaga fravola odorosa” from Il faligname. Library of Congress, US-Wc M 1505.A1 Case (vol. 18). RISM ID no.126118. Available online. Public domain.

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