Zentralredaktion Frankfurt

Annual Report, 2023

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): Prof. Dr. Rebekah Ahrendt (IMS); Mathias Auclair (IAML); Prof. Dr. Drew Edward Davies (IMS); Prof. Dr. Dinko Fabris (IMS); Prof. Dr. Markus Grassl (IMS); Prof. Dr. Beatriz Magalhães Castro (IAML); Dr. Rupert Ridgewell (IAML); Prof. Dr. Thomas Schmidt (IMS); Prof. Dr. Barbara Wiermann (IAML); 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. Assistance was provided by Julia Rosemeyer, as well as student interns.

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 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-four volumes in this series have been published so far. Revised entries from volume B/I, for sources published between 1500 and 1550, were added to the RISM catalog as early as 2015. As part of a larger project (relying predominantly on third-party funding),in the past years additional B/I entries (pertaining to printed anthologies up to 1700) could be updated and expanded also this year. Thanks to these efforts by now all B/I entries appear in the RISM database fully revised and searchable.

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 were optimized and synchronized in close cooperation with the Zentralredaktion, in order to align Muscat with recent initiatives and bibliographic data models. After evaluating the group’s 2022 final report, in August 2023 the Editorial Center launched an initiative at the annual IAML congress which aims at revising RISM’s institution authorities in cooperation with IAML’s national branches.

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, making the further editorial curation of the data considerably simpler.

From December 2022 to November 2023, the following groups were able to create new records with Muscat: Andorra: 15 records; Argentina: 85 records; Australia: 2 records; Austria: 1,474 records; Belgium: 36 records; Canada: 2 records; China (Hongkong): 18 records; Czech Republic: 2,699 records; Germany: 23,517 records; Italy: 733 records; Lithuania: 22 records; Poland: 3,909 records; Portugal: 7 records; Slovakia: 771 records; Slovenia: 68 records; Spain: 65 records; South Korea: 46 records; Switzerland: 727 records; United Kingdom and Ireland: 617 records; USA: 643 records. The Editorial Center also created a total of 3,904 records (partly in the context of workshops and internships), while participants of the project “Mapping the Musical Landscape of the Sixteenth Century” added 3,757 records to the central database.

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.

In the past decade the Editorial Center completed several larger projects that involved 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. An even more ambitious cooperation brought its first major fruits in 2021 with the publication of more than 60,000 records from the catalog of the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo unico delle Biblioteche Italiane (ICCU), thanks to which the Italian repertory is now much better represented in RISM than before this significant import project. In 2022 followed an equally important (although in its dimensions considerably more modest) enrichment of our Mexican data, as well as the inclusion of over 47,000 manuscript descriptions from the catalog of the Austrian National Library – the third greatest import project ever undertaken by RISM.

Last year we again returned to the ICCU records, publishing a further 16,000 records from this valuable dataset. The (in comparison to the previous three years) relatively lower number is due to the approaching change of structure: since after 2025 the RISM Editorial Center will no longer be supported under the auspices of the Akademienprogramm, and must cope with a starkly reduced budget in the final two years, the rounding off of earlier projects must be prioritized, even if the publication of the Italian data requires extremely great editorial investment. Also in 2023, the RISM Digital Center developed a new feature for RISM Online, which allows for searches simultaneously to be run also in the database of the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM), and shows the results – together with a direct link to the original DIAMM entries – side by side with the hits from the core RISM dataset. While seeking to further expand the repertory searchable through RISM, this new feature of RISM Online should arguably be further explored, whereby a decision whether an external data set should be made available through this sort of meta search or rather by way of a traditional import must be reconsidered in each individual case depending on a multitude of factors.

After publishing the data for series A/II on microfiche in the 1980s and annually on CD-ROM beginning in 1994, we have also offered it free of charge in the RISM database 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 has been enhanced in several steps, thanks to the support received in the context of the FID (Fachinformationsdienst) program of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

In December 2023 the entire data pool in the catalog consists of 154,471 authority records for personal names, as well as (following further cleansing of the data) 26,983 for institutions. A total of 1,525,974 records remain for descriptions of musical sources, which can be further differentiated into 1,290,599 records for manuscript descriptions and 232,429 for printed editions, as well as 1,141 libretti and 567 treatises on music.

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 almost 50,000 source descriptions – is of special relevance. Meanwhile the number of links to digital objects, a popular feature, has increased to 136,000 – once again a notable increase by almost 26,000. 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 the RISM Catalog: on average, it was visited by about 13,110 people per month over 43,488 visits (annually: 157,325 people with 521,861 visits and 13.8 million page views). The database is also searchable through RISM Online, while EBSCO Publishing, Inc. offers it 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 two search interfaces (the RISM Catalog and RISM Online), behind the scenes the cataloging 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 version 10.0 is available. The development and maintenance are undertaken in partnership with the RISM Digital Center in Bern, which is 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. This year the Digital Center – in coordination with the Zentralredaktion but essentially as its own product – developed and inaugurated a new gateway to the RISM database under the name RISM Online ( The optimization of the search opportunities offered by this new service and the increasing exploitation of the new perspectives for linking with other databases it also promises belong to the most important challenges that RISM faces in the coming years.

The connections with Muscat users are becoming ever more intensive. Our virtual “Muscat Coffee Hours” 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. As complemented by a series of tutorials we publish on RISM’s YouTube channel on an ongoing basis, these online workshops promise to consolidate and also widen the international network in the very regions where our earlier efforts inevitably found less resonance. Also in 2023, the workshops offered by the Editorial Center at the IAML congress in Cambridge, as well as our regular RISM session were very well attended. At the invitation of the local RISM working groups, our staff members held in-person workshops in Krakow and Prague, and also presented papers about the development of the Plaine & Easie Code (which we use for our music incipits) in New York City, Cambridge, and Paderborn. The latter interest grew out of our intense work on a project undertaken in cooperation with the RISM Digital Center and the Centre for Digital Music Documentation of the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz under the auspices of NFDI4Culture (and also in cooperation with the SLUB Dresden). Thanks to this joint project more than 100,000 corrections have been made in the music incipits attached to RISM’s source descriptions (mostly by way of scripts, but in especially complex cases also by hand) which should make the incipit search so important for many of our users even more effective. Besides, since June 2023 the Editorial Center has also successfully been cooperating with the Deutsches Musikgeschichtliches Archiv in an effort to improve the description of old printed editions on the basis of the rich microfilm holdings of the Kassel archive.

RISM maintains a website offering news items related to musical sources on a weekly basis, and is also very active in the social media: our Facebook page has more than 4,900 fans, and on X (formerly Twitter) we also have more than 2,850 followers.

March 2024

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)