Zentralredaktion Frankfurt

Annual Report, 2020

Foundation: Internationales Quellenlexikon der Musik e.V. Frankfurt am Main.

Honorary Presidents: Dr. Harald Heckmann, Ruppertshain, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Christoph Wolff, Cambridge/Freiburg; President: Prof. Dr. Klaus Pietschmann, Mainz; Vice President: Prof. Dr. Andrea Lindmayr-Brandl, Salzburg; Secretary: Dr. Laurent Pugin, Bern; Treasurer: Jane Gottlieb, New York; co-opted members of the board: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Konrad, Würzburg; Prof. Dr. John H. Roberts, Berkeley. Commission Mixte (delegates from IAML and IMS): Mathias Auclair (IAML); Prof. Dr. Egberto Bermudez Cujar (IMS); Richard Chesser (IAML); Prof. Dr. Dinko Fabris (IMS); Prof. Dr. Markus Grassl (IMS); Prof. Dr. Beatriz Magalhães Castro (IAML); Prof. Dr. Thomas Schmidt (IMS); Prof. Dr. Barbara Wiermann (IAML); Prof. Dr. Christiane Wiesenfeldt (IMS), Sonia Wronkowska (IAML). Director of the Zentralredaktion: Klaus Keil(until 31 August) – Dr. Balázs Mikusi (starting 1 September).

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Klaus Pietschmann, Mainz.

Address: Internationales Quellenlexikon der Musik, Zentralredaktion, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Campus Bockenheim, Senckenberganlage 31-33, D-60325 Frankfurt am Main. Telephone: +49 69 706231, fax: +49 69 706026, email:, website:

Publishers: Series A/I, series B volumes VIII,1-2, and series C: Bärenreiter Verlag, Kassel; series A/II, Internet subscription database: EBSCO Publishing, Inc., Birmingham, AL, USA; series B (except for volumes VIII,1-2): G. Henle Verlag, Munich.

Web and server hosting: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich and Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz (databases); Digitale Akademie der Mainzer Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur (website).

Personnel: Dr. Martina Falletta, Stephan Hirsch, Klaus Keil (director until 31 August), Guido Kraus, Alexander Marxen, Dr. Balázs Mikusi (director starting 1 September), Jennifer Ward, Isabella Wiedemer-Höll (until 31 May). Assistance was provided by interns as well as student workers Martin Bierwisch, Kristina Krämer, and Johanna Thöne.

The International Inventory of Musical Sources (Répertoire International des Sources Musicales – RISM), with its Zentralredaktion (Editorial Center) in Frankfurt, is under the patronage of the Association Internationale des Bibliothèques, Archives et Centres de Documentation Musicaux (IAML) as well as the Société Internationale de Musicologie (IMS) and is responsible for documenting printed and manuscript transmissions of music worldwide. Series A/I indexes printed music published by a single composer between 1600 and 1800, and series A/II indexes music manuscripts after 1600, with extensive descriptions, including their locations. Both series originally were to be arranged alphabetically by composer name, as is the case in the printed volumes of series A/I. Since both series are now published as databases, far more access points can be offered. Series B is designed to cover specific categories of repertory, such as printed anthologies from the 16th to 18th centuries, German hymns, source literature on music theory in Latin, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian, etc. Series A/I, A/II, and B are supplemented by series C, the Directory of Music Research Libraries.

Series A/I: Issued in nine main volumes, four supplementary volumes, and one index, and on CD-ROM. The CD-ROM of series A/I was released in December 2011. It contains all of the entries from the nine volumes and the supplements. The CD-ROM data were imported into the cataloging program Muscat (see below). They have been available in the RISM online catalog since July 2015. Some national groups take advantage of the opportunity to correct and enhance entries, especially by adding new locations and links to digital reproductions. In this way, the data increasingly diverge from the book publication.

As part of a project, and in cooperation with the Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek (SLUB) in Dresden, new templates to catalog printed music editions in detail were introduced to Muscat. The new specifications for the RISM online catalog were implemented.

Series B: Thirty-three volumes in this series have been published so far, most recently B/XVII: Die Triosonate. Catalogue raisonné der gedruckten Quellen, ed. Ludwig Finscher, Laurenz Lütteken, and Inga Mai Groote (Munich: Henle, 2016).

The entries from volume B/I, for sources published between 1500 and 1550, were added to the online catalog in 2015.Thanks to further funding from the cultural fund of the organization VD-Musikedition, revision of addition entries from B/I volume, anthologies to 1700, was carried out.

Series C: Five volumes have appeared to date, the last of which were published together with the IAML Publications Committee as revised versions of volumes II and III,1. Apart from this, the RISM Zentralredaktion issued the special volume RISM Bibliothekssigel-Gesamtverzeichnis (RISM Library Sigla, Complete Index), which has since been made available through RISM’s website as a searchable database of the library sigla. The database also contains contact information such as mailing address, website link, and email address. By clicking on the siglum entry, the institution’s holdings in the RISM online catalog can be directly accessed. IAML established a successor to the project group Access to Music Archives (AMA) in July 2019 to revise Series C. In this project, functions in RISM’s cataloging program will be optimized and synchronized, in close cooperation with the Zentralredaktion, in order to align Muscat with recent initiatives and bibliographic data models.

Series A/II: In this series, manuscripts containing polyphonic music written after 1600 are thoroughly described and cataloged. Series A/II is the most comprehensive endeavor that the entire RISM project is undertaking and is its main focus at present. Contributors from more than 35 countries around the world document music manuscripts in their home libraries and archives. The national working groups use computers to enter their descriptions and the majority connects directly to the RISM server through the Internet. Most of the working groups use Muscat, which was developed expressly for this purpose and is available free of charge. The digital transmission of information reduces the amount of editorial work required and and enables the import of additional external datasets. By bringing together sources from different countries in the RISM database, not only are better search possibilities available for researchers and musicians alike, but at the same time they reveal special relationships between different regions and support the reconstruction of historical cultural networks.

Since the start of the project a total of ca. 1,300,000 entries have been registered at the RISM Zentralredaktion in Frankfurt. Although the coronavirus pandemic has greatly impaired the output of most of the national working groups, the following groups were able to create new records with Muscat: Andorra: 3 records; Argentina: 697 records; Austria, Innsbruck: 441 records, Lambach: 782 records, Salzburg: 330 records (Mozarteum), Vienna/Linz: 459 records; Belgium: 23 records; China, Shanghai: 1 record, Hong Kong: 13 records; Croatia: 10 records; Czech Republic: 2,059 records; Ecuador: 36 records; Estonia: 3 records; Finland: 3 records; Germany, Berlin: 777 records, Dresden: 8,289 records, Karlsruhe: 451 records, Leipzig: 465 records, Munich: 13,422; Italy: 85 records; Lithuania: 4 records; Mexico: 100 records; Poland: 11,204 records; Slovakia: 667 records; Slovenia: 67 records; South Korea: 715 records; Spain: 376 records; Switzerland: 1,745 records; Ukraine: 244 records; United Kingdom and Ireland: 98 records; United States: 1,160 records.

Many working groups also revise older records. The Zentralredaktion also consistently receives additions and notifications of mistakes and composer attributions from users and these are incorporated into the records in consultation with the working groups. Some libraries have also sent the Zentralredaktion lists with links to digital objects, which can be copied into the data, usually automatically, after a visual inspection.

A great deal of effort is required on the part of the Zentralredaktion for projects that involve importing datasets from external databases. Data concerning music manuscripts from the United Kingdom and Ireland were imported into the RISM database in 2011. Since then, these 55,000 records can be searched in the online catalog.

One of the most important projects from the reporting year was the import of data from the catalog of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. After importing ca. 400 records from the Département de la musique in 2019 to gain some experience for an automatic conversion, a larger set of data could be imported. After thorough revision and careful corrections, nearly 20,000 entries from this extremely important collection could be published in the summer of 2020. Even though this material does not comprise all music manuscripts from the Bibliothèque Nationale, F-Pn is now the siglum with the fifth highest number of entries in our database.

An even more ambitious project involves revising and enhancing Italian RISM records. In accordance with an agreement from 2016, RISM RISM imported 217,669 records from the catalog of the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo unico delle Biblioteche Italiane (ICCU) into Muscat. The particular challenge of this cooperation is, on the one hand, that the staff of the Zentralredaktion has 40,000 new names to edit. On the other hand, the RISM database already has ca. 89,000 records from Italy. Identifying and filtering out duplicate records requires work done by hand as well as programming various maintenance scripts. At the moment we estimate that ca. 45,000 records are duplicates; excluding these records will probably be one of the most important tasks of the Zentralredaktion in 2021.

In the meantime, a different “Italian project” has borne fruit: The RISM database was enhanced with nearly 3,000 records, mostly music manuscripts, from the Fondo Cappella Sistina of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (V-CVbav). The data are based on comprehensive records that Prof. Dr. Thomas Schmidt (Huddersfield) provided to us, and are now also available through the online catalog.

Catalog records from Switzerland have long been a kind of exception, as they are created using Muscat but were at variance with the main RISM database in several details and were available only through a separate database. As an important step in the ever-closer cooperation between the Zentralredaktion and RISM Switzerland, this material (comprising more than 27,000 new records) were imported into the installation of Muscat as used by the Zentralredaktion. Since the migration of the data, RISM Switzerland also catalogs directly with the international cataloging program.

As part of a project sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the German Historical Institute in Rome undertook work on the collections of two Roman princely houses. The sources were digitized and described using Kallisto in accordance with RISM standards. This project has ended.

Thanks to cataloging by the working groups and different data migration projects, 47,000 records were added to the RISM manuscript database during the reporting year.

As the center of a comprehensive international network, the RISM Zentralredaktion considers one of its important tasks to be constantly enriching the database by adding new regions. Including new countries is in this context especially welcome: this year, for example, we had sources from Andorra and we created the first siglum for a collection in Papua New Guinea. In addition, working groups in South Korea and China are active, whose catalog records point the way to the potential of expanding the international network.

These developments notwithstanding, the main goal for RISM has long been the as complete as only possible cataloguing of the sources of European music history, and there still remains much work to do in this regard as well. Firstly, we plan further imports involving data from the national libraries in Vienna and Madrid; secondly, more than 5,000 titles from the Moravian Music Foundation are also being prepared for RISM. Following the successful cooperation with the Deutsches Historisches Institut in Rome (targeting the collections of two local princely houses) and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (as part of the Project Kompetenzzentrum Forschung und Information Musik, KOFIM) RISM seeks to work together with further institutions in Germany to complement the central database through specific projects. A case in point has been our agreement with the Richard Strauss Quellenverzeichnis, according to which the source descriptions accessible through their website ( should also appear in the RISM online catalog. Unfortunately, such cooperations mostly depend on third party funding, and thus can but rarely be continued until the complete processing of the relevant source material. Even so, the integration of some part of the data to foster searchability, as well as the linking with external databases proves a relatively efficient method to expand the RISM database in diverse directions. These developments also help RISM to maintain in the long term its indisputable reputation as the “first stop” for those looking for historical music sources anywhere in the world.

After publishing the data for series A/II on microfiche in the 1980s and annually on CD-ROM beginning in 1994, RISM has offered the data free of charge in the online catalog since July 2010. The development of the software for searching was made possible through collaboration between RISM, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich (BSB) and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz. In the meantime the catalog, which is based on the proprietary software TouchPoint, has been enhanced in several steps, thanks to the support received in the context of the FID (Fachinformationsdienst) program of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

Currently (October 2020) the entire data pool in the catalog consists of 1,425,096 records. This includes the authority files, which contain 111,863 authority records for personal names, as well as 70,460 for institutions (including corrections). A total of 1,242,773 records remain for descriptions of musical sources, which can be further differentiated into 1,037,859 records for manuscript descriptions and 204,014 for printed editions (as well as 766 libretti and 134 treatises on music).

The number of links to digital objects, a popular feature, has increased to over 57,256.

On average, the online catalog was visited by about 8,500 people per month over 27,220 visits (annually: 102,000 people with 326,640 visits and 22,8 million page views).

The database is also offered through EBSCO Publishing, Inc. as a subscription package with our partner projects RILM and RIPM (see; however, the RISM data are missing recent updates.

Since 2013, the data in the online catalog have been available as open data and as linked open data since 2014. This service is directed at libraries that wish to import their records into local catalogs, or musicological projects that want to make a catalog of sources that covers a specific topic as a basis for research. The Zentralredaktion has developed tools to simplify the data delivery process, such as an SRU interface. This service is also put into use: using the SRU interface, for example, the data end up in the local catalogs of the Bibliotheksservice-Zentrum (Library Service Centre) in Konstanz, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, and the SLUB. The research project Detmolder Hofmusik (Detmold Court Music) uses the data as a basis for further, detailed investigation of the material. Through the website of the online catalog one can download the entire dataset (including source records as well as authority files) or but some part of it in MARCXML or RDF format, whereby the data regarding music incipits and instruments are used by researchers particularly often. In late 2019 the RISM data were admitted into re3data, a global register including repositories of research data of diverse academic disciplines. In addition the data connected to digitized sources have also been included in EROMM (European Register of Microform and Digital Masters). It is RISM’s wish that users take advantage of these services in order to share corrections or supplemental information with the Zentralredaktion. Additional tools will be developed for this.

While most users know RISM through its online catalog, behind the scenes the cataloguing software Muscat plays an equally important role. Muscat is based on an open source software, and can be adapted to the needs of other projects, thereby facilitating the reuse of RISM data for scholarly purposes.

Muscat, which was released in November 2016, has been running to the full satisfaction of its users ever since. As a matter of course, it is continuously being developed; currently version 6.3.1 is available. Given that optimizing the professional and technical support of the working groups is a fundamental priority of the Zentralredaktion, we seek to develop the software in several languages: thanks to the cooperation with André Guerra Cotta (RISM Brasil) and Silvia Sequeira (RISM Portugal) we are now able to offer a portuguese version of Muscat as well. Besides, most of the guidelines have now been translated into Spanish by Rodrigo Balaguer and Lucas Reccitelli; a Polish version is also in preparation. Muscat is developed and maintained through a partnership between the RISM Zentralredaktion and RISM Switzerland, which this cooperation has made the most important international partner of the Zentralredaktion.

The support provided to existing or new working groups also involves the training of their cataloguers. Staff of the Zentralredaktion visit working groups and hold workshops at conferences. Although this year the Corona crisis significantly hindered this activity, workshops were offered at the annual conference of the German IAML branch in Bonn (September 2020) as well as (online) for the team of the Chopin-Institute in Warsaw (August and September 2020), among others. Besides, tutorials are also offered on YouTube or through direct contact online. This year a tutorial about RISM was also prepared in cooperation with the Musikwissenschaftliches Institut of the University of Tübingen as part of the series “Tübinger Tutorials zur Musikwissenschaft.”

From an editorial standpoint, the Zentralredaktion is responsible for unifying data and editing authority files for personal names, institutions, secondary literature, and texts (including sacred texts). This is carried out in close cooperation with the working groups, which receive continuous supervision.

To improve communication with working groups, users, and other people interested in RISM, the Zentralredaktion has developed several tools in recent years:

The RISM website, developed with the cooperation of the Akademie der Wissenschaften und Literatur (Digitale Akademie) in Mainz, is regularly updated by the Zentralredaktion and the working groups. It enjoys increasing popularity. Besides news items about projects, digital resources or publications that the Zentralredaktion receives from the working groups, current occasions (composer anniversaries, special events, instrument of the year) are addressed, and we also report on conferences and new sources added to the database.

A RISM Facebook page appeals to another international audience and has 3,830 fans. RISM is also active on Twitter, with 2,502 followers.

The brochure “RISM: An Overview” may be obtained from the Zentralredaktion. It is available in English-German as well as English-Chinese, English-Russian, English-Spanish, and English-Portuguese versions.

On Wikipedia, articles are available in Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. In late 2019 the German and the English version were completely revised and updated.

Contact with our working groups and other practitioners in the field is cultivated through participation in conferences and other events. The most important of these is the annual international IAML congress, which should have taken place in Prague this year, but was held only online and much abbreviated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We intend to make up for the RISM Day, originally planned for this year, in 2021, and use it as an opportunity to gather ideas and suggestions regarding the further development of the project from representatives of the international RISM working groups. This builds on a most insightful workshop organized in cooperation with the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz and held in the Helmholtz-Zentrum of their campus in November 2019, on the occasion of the general assembly of the Verein Internationales Quellenlexikon der Musik e.V.

This year RISM contributed a main lecture “Musical Work Recognition, Linked Data, and RISM” to the Finnish Cataloguing Seminar (Kuvailun tiedotuspäivä) held at the University of Helsinki in October 2019, and a keynote “Cataloging concerns at RISM related to non-Western music” at the online conference of the Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae Cataloging Working Group in September 2020. In order to be in step with the latest trends in digital musicology, members of our team also participated in several other conferences, e.g. Music Encoding Conference (May 2020), Society for Seventeenth-Century Music Annual Meeting (June 2020), Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference (July 2020), Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School (July 2020), annual meeting of IAML Germany (September 2020), IAML International Congress (July 2020), all of which allowed for online participation.

RISM was discussed in Early Music und Nineteenth-Century Music Review, and the two authoritative international journals for music librarians published sizeable articles about printed music in RISM (Kirstin Dougan Johnson: “Unravelling the RISM Riddle at the University of Illinois: An Inventory and Analysis,” Fontes Artis Musicae 67/2, pp. 119-142, and Jennifer Ward: “Documenting Historical Printed Music in RISM: New Opportunities for the Digital Age,” Notes 77/1, pp. 9-32). In January 2020 the incipit search of the RISM online catalog was even mentioned in the magazin Billboard, since musicologists used it to (successfully) argue that the singer and songwriter Katy Perry had wrongfully been sentenced because of copyright violation. The numerous references to RISM in the most diverse contexts testifies for, and at the same time reinforces, the reputation of our database as an indispensable tool for both musicologists and performing musicians.

In conclusion it is worth mentioning that this year RISM has been granted support for the further development of Muscat as a member of the consortium NFDI4Culture. Among others the more extensive use of work authorities should be fostered to facilitate the even more intensive use of RISM data and its linking with other databases. The bases for this important development were laid in May 2019 at the conference “Works, Work Titles, Work Authorities: Perspectives on Introducing a Work Label in RISM” held at the Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur in Mainz. In the meantime the Zentralredaktion started closer cooperation with the German National Library in Frankfurt am Main, so that in the coming years this important project could be realized for the greater benefit of librarians, musicians as well as musicologists.

February 2020

Balázs Mikusi


Series A/I; series B, volume VIII, parts 1 and 2; series C
Series B (except for volume VIII, parts 1 and 2)
Series A/II CD-ROM (1995-2008)
Series A/II subscription database (2002-2006)
Series A/II subscription database (2006-present)
Congress report (2010)