Franz Karl. Praßl: Music manuscripts of the library of the Augustinian monastery Vorau

The Augustinian Canons monastery Vorau - located in Eastern Styria, almost half-way between Vienna and Graz – was founded in 1163 by the archbishop Eberhard I of Salzburg (~ 1085-1164) with a donation from margrave Ottokar III. of Traungau (1129-1164), and was integrated in the Salzburg "Chorherrenverband". The first provost Liupold (1163-1185) came from the Augustinian Canon monastery of Seckau, and further four canons came from the Cathedral Chapter of Salzburg. Already under the second provost Bernhard I. (1185-1202), a former custodian and librarian in Seckau, the library of the monastery flourished, as evident today with numerous preserved manuscripts of this period, many of which are liturgical manuscripts. Constitutive for the liturgical practice of the monastery, placed in the extreme east of the Archdiocese of Salzburg and near the Hungarian border, was the Liber Ordinarius (today A-VOR 99). This manuscript, originating from Suben, is an edited transcript of the Salzburg Liber Ordinarius from 1198 (today: A-Su M II 6), which has been adapted for the requirements of this specific location. This codex served as the foundation for the creation of numerous liturgical manuscripts in the monastery, until the 15th century, when the „pure“ Salzburg Cathedral Rite was introduced (with a few local propers retained). Evidence of this reform is visible in the many preserved missals and breviaries from Salzburg dating from the 15th century, which follow the Cathedral Rite. The introduction of the Roman Rite in the Salzburg Archdiocese 1590-1596 marks the descend of medieval liturgy in Vorau. The exact date of this change is not known. However, a few of the remaining local features can be found in some music manuscripts of the 18th century, as additions to the standardized (printed) books.

The library, which survived the era of National Socialism as well as the following atrocities of the Russian occupation relatively unscathed, holds a fair number of medieval manuscripts. The Canon Pius Fank (1891-1976), who is still remembered in Styria today as a committed youth pastor, found time besides his pastoral duties to work as the monastery historian. In 1936 he described 416 manuscripts of the monastery library in a Latin catalogue. These descriptions were made so extensive and thorough, including the aspect of musical notation, so that this catalogue still provides useful basic information of the sources, even though nowadays different requirements for the description of manuscripts have been establisted. Based on the Fank-catalogue, the liturgical manuscripts with or without notation are listed in the following.

Source (with bibliographical references): PRASSL, Franz Karl: Gesang an der Peripherie – Die Choralhandschriften in der Bibliothek des Augustiner-Chorherrenstiftes Vorau, in: Klugseder, Robert (ed.), Cantus Planus. Study Group of the International Musicological Society. Papers read at the 16th meeting, Vienna, Austria, 2011, Wien 2012, 332-343.