Zentralredaktion Frankfurt

Annual Report, 2021

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: PD 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 of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres and the International Musicological Society): Mathias Auclair (IAML); Prof. Dr. Egberto Bermúdez 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: Dr. Balázs Mikusi.

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

Address: RISM 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); RISM Digital Center, Bern (website).

Personnel – core staff: Dr. Martina Falletta (75%), Stephan Hirsch, Guido Kraus, Alexander Marxen (75%), Dr. Balázs Mikusi, Jennifer Ward. Project staff: Martin Bierwisch (50%, since October), Kristina Krämer (50%, since October). Assistance was provided by interns as well as student workers Martin Bierwisch, Kristina Krämer (both until September) and Hendrik Pflaumbaum.

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 International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML) as well as the International Musicological Society (IMS) and is responsible for documenting printed and manuscript transmissions of music worldwide. According to the original concept, Series A/I indexed printed music published by a single composer between 1600 and 1800, while series A/II registered music manuscripts after 1600, with extensive descriptions, including their locations. Series B is designed to cover specific repertories, such as printed anthologies from the 16th to 18th centuries, source literature on music theory in Latin, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian, etc. Series A/I and A/II are still enriched today, whereby catalogers no longer need strictly to observe the original chronological boundaries. Volumes of the Series B appear now only sporadically (depending on the submission of appropriate manuscripts), and the source catalog proper has long been complemented by a Series C, the Directory of Music Research Libraries.

Series A/I: Originally issued in nine main volumes, four supplementary volumes, and one index. A CD-ROM containing all of the entries from the printed volumes was released in December 2011. Later on the CD-ROM data were imported into the cataloging program Muscat (see below), and have been available online in the RISM Catalog of Musical Sources 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 available online increasingly diverge from the original book publication. As part of a project realized in cooperation with the Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek (SLUB) in Dresden, new templates for printed music editions were developed and have been available to Muscat catalogers since 2018.

Series B: Thirty-three volumes in this series have been published so far, most recently B/XVII: Die Triosonate. Catalogue raisonné der gedruckten Quellen, eds. Ludwig Finscher, Laurenz Lütteken, and Inga Mai Groote (Munich: Henle, 2016). The next volume, comprising a “catalogue descriptif” of French plainchant sources, will appear in 2022. Revised entries from volume B/I, for sources published between 1500 and 1550, were added to the online catalog as early as 2015. Thanks to third-party funding, additional B/I entries (pertaining to printed anthologies up to 1700) could be updated and expanded also this year.

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. IAML established a successor to the project group Access to Music Archives (AMA) in July 2019 to revise Series C. In this three-year project, functionalities of RISM’s cataloging program are 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 RISM project has undertaken, 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 prepare their descriptions, and the majority relies on the Muscat software, developed expressly for this purpose, and provided to our contributors free of charge. This way the information entered is directly registered on RISM’s servers, which reduces the amount of editorial work, and thus allows for the import of additional external datasets.

Since the start of the project a total of ca. 1,350,000 entries have been registered at the RISM Zentralredaktion in Frankfurt. Although in 2021 the coronavirus pandemic still impaired the output of most national working groups, the following groups were able to create new records with Muscat: Andorra: 847 records; Argentina: 509 records; Austria: 857 records; Belgium: 435 records; Brazil: 2 records; Canada: 894 records; China (Hong Kong): 12 records; Croatia: 13 records; Czech Republic: 2,324 records; Ecuador: 70 records; Estonia: 2 records; France: 1 record; Germany: 20,451 records; Italy: 525 records; Lithuania: 7 records; Mexico: 67 records; Poland: 13,676 records; Russia: 1,021 records; Slovakia: 1,020 records; Slovenia: 8 records; Spain: 310 records; South Korea: 424 records; Switzerland: 1,369 records; Ukraine: 38 records; United Kingdom and Ireland: 649 records; USA: 1,168 records. The Editorial Center also created a total 3.385 records (partly in the context of workshops).

Many working groups also revise older records. Besides, the Zentralredaktion receives numerous additions and notifications of mistakes and composer attributions from users, which are incorporated into the records in consultation with the working groups. Some libraries have also sent the Zentralredaktion lists with links to digital objects; these can be copied into the data, in most cases automatically. Thanks to such developments the RISM database proves more and more attractive not only to musicologists but also to performing musicians who seek to expand their repertory. RISM considers it as an important mission not simply to document musical sources, but also to help them reach an ever larger audience. It should be noted, nonetheless, that the ongoing improvement and expansion of the database requires persistent and thorough supervision, without which RISM could not maintain its central position in musical source research in the longer run.

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 have been searchable in our online catalog. Thanks to similar projects executed in the past years, our database has been enriched by close to 20.000 records from the catalog of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and over 27.000 records from the database of the Swiss RISM working group. A less extensive import project involving about 3.000 records mostly for manuscript materials of the Fondo Cappella Sistina der Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana caused a stir also beyond the specialist circles.

A considerably more ambitious cooperation – indeed, the most voluminous import project of RISM to date – brought its first major fruits this year. The editing of the dataset taken over from the catalog of the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo unico delle Biblioteche Italiane (ICCU) proved particularly time-consuming, and in 2019 only a few smaller chunks of the altogether more than 200.000 records could be made available to the wider public. In August 2020, however, over 60.000 further ICCU records could be published in the RISM Catalog of Musical Sources, constituting a major step toward a more complete presentation of the especially important Italian repertory in RISM. Notwithstanding the considerable time investment, the series of import projects will be continued also next year, in order to increase the number of (in the present dataset still relatively underrepresented) Austrian source descriptions in the RISM database. The import of records from the catalog of the Austrian National Library will further remedy the historically defined geographic imbalance of the database, thereby also significantly improving the usability of the extant source descriptions. 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 special relationships between different regions are revealed, fostering the reconstruction of historical cultural networks. These reach way beyond the borders of Europe: the records produced by the working groups in South Korea and China, or the upcoming import of source descriptions from Mexico, effectively exemplify the enormous scholarly potential inherent in the further expansion of the international network.

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 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 2021) the entire data pool in the catalog consists of 1,555,811 records. This includes the authority files, which contain 142,142 authority records for personal names, as well as 31,938 for institutions (in the latter category, this year we managed to delete a significant number of records stemming from import projects and not relevant to the core RISM dataset). A total of 1,344,257 records remain for descriptions of musical sources, which can be further differentiated into 1,150,267 records for manuscript descriptions and 192,564 for printed editions, as well as 531 libretti and 182 treatises on music (the divergence from the previous year regarding the number of prints and libretti is due to a new counting method better reflecting the situation by focusing exclusively on the basic source types).

Since most users of the online catalog search for music manuscripts in the first place, the substantial additions precisely in this category – as compared to the previous year, an overall increase by more than 112,000 source descriptions – is of special relevance. Meanwhile the number of links to digital objects, a popular feature, has increased to over 85,920 – once again a notable increase by almost 29,000. These additions to the dataset also help RISM remain an indispensable tool for both researchers and performing musicians, and maintain in the long term its indisputable reputation as the “first stop” for those looking for historical music sources anywhere in the world. This prominent status is also reflected in the intensive use of our online catalog: on average, the catalog was visited by about 10,500 people per month over 28,430 visits (annually: 126,000 people with 341,200 visits and 16.2 million page views). The database is also offered through EBSCO Publishing, Inc. as a subscription package with our partner projects RILM and RIPM (see

Since 2013, the data in the RISM Catalog of Musical Sources 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 further research. The Zentralredaktion has developed tools to simplify the data delivery process, such as an SRU interface that is intensively used by our diverse partners. 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 related 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 and in turn share corrections or supplemental information with the Zentralredaktion, thereby improving the overall data quality.

While most users know RISM through its online catalog, behind the scenes the cataloguing software Muscat, which has been running to the great satisfaction of its users ever since its release in November 2016, 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. As a matter of course, it is continuously being developed; currently (October 2020) version 7.1.3 is available. The development and maintenance are undertaken in partnership with the Swiss RISM working group, which was renamed RISM Digital Center in January 2021, and is now the most important partner of the RISM Zentralredaktion on an international level. Thanks to this intensive cooperation we can guarantee also in the future the optimal technical and professional support of our working groups, which the Editorial Center considers a fundamental priority.

The connections with Muscat users are becoming ever more intensive. Inspired by the countless online meetings prompted by the COVID pandemic, we have started also to offer virtual “Muscat Coffee Hours” that as a rule take place after a major release and – besides an introduction to the most recent features – allow for free discussion between the developers and the users of the software. As center of a broad international network, the RISM Editorial Center is deeply invested in convincing ever more libraries, research projects or even individual scholars about the vast advantages of Muscat. Traditionally, the most important venues for this sort of outreach activity had been the Muscat workshops organized at larger conferences, which however had mostly to be cancelled since the outbreak of the pandemic. As an alternative, we now regularly offer online workshops, which initially required the revision of our earlier teaching materials, but at the same time allow for the inclusion of a wider public than it would ever have been possible through “live” workshops (e.g. librarians from the Australian continent or graduate students from Asia or South America). As complemented by a series of tutorials we publish on RISM’s YouTube channel on an ongoing basis, these online workshops – which typically get fully booked in but a few days – promise intensively to widen the international network in the very regions where our earlier efforts inevitably found less resonance.

After preparations of several months and in close cooperation with the RISM Digital Center, in December 2020 a new website was inaugurated which serves as a crucial point of reference not merely for the Editorial Center itself, but also the entire RISM community. Accordingly, besides the most important information about RISM and the work of the Editorial Center, we seek also to publish a rich selection of news items relevant to musical source research in general. In the past year altogether 90 such items appeared, the most read text being a report from the German working group about the identification of the proofs of Orlando di Lasso’s Magnum Opus Musicum. Speaking of a discovery that was originally published in a specialized German journal, the 800 readers of our English news item testify for a considerable multiplier effect.

RISM’s Facebook page appeals to another international audience, and has already 4.131 fans. RISM is also active on Twitter, with 2.768 followers. On Wikipedia, articles are available in Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish, and Swedish. Apart from this strong online presence, a printed brochure may also be obtained from the Zentralredaktion. It is available in English-German as well as English-Chinese, English-Russian, English-Spanish, and English-Portuguese versions.

Notwithstanding the social restrictions due to the COVID pandemic, the Zentralredaktion contributed a presentation about “Source Documentation in RISM since Beethoven” to the 17th International Congress of the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung. Next year we once again plan to appear more intensively at international conferences (as much as the health situation will permit). Among others, the RISM Day that had to be postponed twice will at last be made up for in connection with the annual IAML congress in Prague.

The Editorial Center also has a new initiative which seeks to expand the RISM network and foster the communication between researchers and music librarians: the series of RISM Lectures. The virtual opening event took place on 28 January, and presented to a more than 270 strong audience the new source descriptions of the Fondo Cappella Sistina with talks by Claudia Montuschi (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana), Thomas Schmidt (University of Huddersfield) and Richard Sherr (Smith College). The second lecture with former President of RISM, Christoph Wolff (Harvard University) and Martina Rebmann (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin) focused on the Bach collection of the Berlin State Library. The lectures have also been made available on RISM’s YouTube channel.

In the autumn of 2020, the Editorial Center became a member of the consortium NFDI4Culture, and is preparing with the German National Library in particular the exchange of work authority data between Muscat and the Gemeinsame Normdatei (GND). The grounds for this decisive development had been laid at the 2019 conference “Works, Work Titles, Work Authorities: Perspectives on Introducing a Work Level in RISM” at the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz, whereby the full-scale implementation of the work level in the RISM dataset, which essentially feature source descriptions, remains an ongoing task. Since late 2020 the Zentralredaktion has also participated in the activities of the music working group of the Standardization Committee of the German National Library to ensure the regular professional exchange with diverse institutions of the DACH region.

March 2022

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)