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Where to see original manuscripts in Europe?

Last year I went to a small but magnificent exhibition called "Handwritten" which consisted of 100 original manuscripts spanning 1000 years and came from the Berlin State Library.   It contained half a dozen original manuscripts from Beethoven, Mozart (Marriage of Figaro), Bach and other composers.    It was mind-blowing.   e.g. I had no idea that because Mozart used different coloured inks you can follow the way he constructed his music.    Just to see the pages they wrote on was deeply moving.
 
So.. it's a year later - I'm heading to Europe and would like to see more of these manuscripts up close.  I am having trouble finding where.    I'll be in Rome, Florence, Venice, Vienna and Prague.    I have contacted the Austrian National Library in Vienna where many of the manuscripts are housed, but they only make them available to researchers.  Apparently they offer small guided tours to groups to see 5 manuscripts, but I'm on my own.
 
There is a large collection of music manuscripts at the Vatican, and I'll certainly visit here, but from the website it looks as if it's mainly Medieval and Renaissance music which doesn't interest me as much as the later composers.
 
Any help greatly appreciated.
Jane
Replies (4): Threaded | Chronological
on March 8, 2013 4:33pm
Jane,
 
There are countless archives all over Europe, from State and National libraries all the way down to conservatories and parish churches. For starters, I would check the Grove dictionary, specifically the volume which lists "Libraries". This section lists libraries according to country, then city in each respective country. As you mentioned, many, if not most of the archives that hold these manuscripts, only allow researchers to view (and handle) such manuscripts. In Florence, you should contact the Conservatorio "Luigi Cherubini". A short train ride (about 45 minutes) to Lucca is the Musical Institute which houses the manuscripts of several generations of Puccini composers. In Venice, there are a number of libraries with such manuscripts among their holdings, including Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi. Among the manuscripts held there are those originally housed at St. Mark's Basilica. In Vienna, besides the Austrian National Library, there is the Schottenstift Monastery archive, on the outer fringes of the Ringstrasse. Feel free to contact me privately if you have further questions.
 
Martin
on March 9, 2013 12:10pm
Thank you for your reply, Martin.    I can see from your profile that finding original manuscripts has occupied a good part of your life - so you know your way around Europe!  
 
My challenge is not so much in finding where they are housed, but which organisations allow non-researchers to view the manuscripts up close.     I shall contact you directly.  
 
Jane
 
on March 9, 2013 1:48pm
Re. European (or other) research libraries:  My understanding is that many of them DO consider themselves to be restricted rather than the kind of open libraries that we are used to, so it can be important to get some documentation from an academic institution that establishes you as a believeable scholar.  And that can be as simple as a statement on institutional letterhead from a Department Head or Dean that in essence requests that academic status be accorded as a courtesy.
 
And in fact my late wife did exactly that when some of her research required finding some sources at the Oriental Institute in Chicago.  At the time she was still an UNDERgraduate student (at Indiana University), and had to get special permission from a faculty member even to be allowed to use the graduate library at I.U., but the folks at the Oriental Institute did accord her academic courtesies and were extremely helpful.
 
And some are only open at specific hours, or by previous arrangement, and it can also be very useful to have contacted the people at those library in advance to arrange for a meeting and admission.
 
Back in the '70s I took a grad course from Carol McClintock, and she happened to mention that some of the research she had wanted to do had been stymied because the manuscripts were held in Italian monateries, and as a woman she was not allowed inside the walls!!!
All the best,
John
on March 11, 2013 1:18pm
Thanks John.   Yes, it's the different attitude to libraries that is interesting - we are so used to a concept of openness and accessibility that the level of hoops needed to jump through just to see a document comes as a surprise.
 
With some valuable leads and people to contact I'm optimistic. 
 
Jane
PS - The situation with Italian monasteries and women may not have changed all that much.
 
 
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