Location of fragments
In exploring the medieval music fragments of the ÖNB, various collections and catalogues had to be searched. The fragments are located in different places, depending on whether they have already been triggered or are still in use as binding material.
The ÖNB’s Department of Manuscripts includes several thousand medieval fragments. Since the 19th century, binding materials removed from books have been collected, which take the form of folded strips, fragments reused in pastedowns, flyleaves or indeed whole covers (parchment covers). In 1865, several exceptional pieces were organised for the first time as the series Supplementes-Signaturen; then, as this process continued, they became the manuscript series Series nova (Cod. Ser.n.). It was only during the second half of the 20th century that a large proportion of the other fragments was given a specially created fragment number (Fragm.) and recorded in a handwritten fragment book. This book lists only the type of source and an estimated date of origin for each fragment group. Moreover, to this date there remain several hundred fragments that have not been indexed with a number and basic description.
The ÖNB’s Department of Rare Prints, which now forms one collection together with the Manuscript Department, held several dozen manuscript fragments removed from incunabula and postincunabula. These items were transferred to the fragment collection of the Manuscript Department in 2010.
The Music Department of the ÖNB also holds a small number of medieval music fragments. These have been documented with basic information in the music collection’s catalogue, and can be recognised by their shelfmark prefix Mus.
Even today, countless fragments remain in use as cover bindings of manuscripts and prints in the ÖNB. Many of them were used as binding material by the institutions that owned them previously. Even in the court library itself was still disassembling manuscripts and using the leaves as cover bindings as late as the 17th century.
Mondsee sources outside the ÖNB
Manuscripts, incunabula and postincunabula from the former monastery Mondsee are extand also in the Oberösterreichische Landesarchiv, the Oberösterreichische Landesbibliothek and the Katholisch-Theologische Privatuniversität Linz (former library of the Priesterseminar). Among these items are also fragments (as book bindings or already dismantled), which have been included in this database. These sources are complementary to those of the ÖNB (many thanks to the above mentioned Linz libraries for the permission to publish the images).
Searching for the fragments
The search for medieval music fragments in the ÖNB varied in difficulty, and was conducted in different ways and degrees depending on locations of the fragments. The sources in the fragment collection are best accessible, and were able to be searched thoroughly. Fragments in this collection that did not yet possess a shelfmark were given a new fragment number in the course of the indexing process. These holdings, with around 280 shelfmarks, make up almost half of the roughly 600 music fragment fascicle of the ÖNB that have been indexed and described so far. One of the problems with this collection is that there are often no references to previous host volumes. It was only in the 20th century that the shelfmarks of the books the fragments had been used in as binding material were noted. In the case of parchment covers, the original titles or shelfmarks on the former spine or flyleaves can help to identify host volumes. Unfortunately, over time the shelfmarks of the court and national library have changed several times, so that it is not always possible to track down host volumes.
The 13 recovered fragments of the Department of Music can be found in the department’s online catalogue and have been indexed and described in their entirety.
Research on those fragments not yet removed from manuscripts and prints was impossible in the same depth as on those in the fragment collection and Music Department. The Department of Manuscripts includes several ten thousand codices that could contain fragments. Furthermore, fragments turn up regularly in incunabula and postincunabula from as late as the 17th century. The ÖNB has around 8,000 early prints and around 108,000 prints from between 1501 and 1700. This high number of possible host volumes renders a complete indexing impossible.
As early as 1928, the librarian Constantin Schneider attempted to create a complete catalogue of all music items in the manuscript category. The handwritten catalogue (Cod. Ser.n. 46.902-46.912) of 1975 covered sources from 1619 different codices dating from the 9th to the 19th century. These items include works of music theory, images of musicians and musical instruments, opera libretti and so on. (A database with Schneider’s catalogue is also available on this page.) The quality of the descriptions is inadequate, but the locating of the musical items themselves represents an incredible feat that cannot be overestimated. According to Schneider’s catalogue, it was possible to locate around 220 fragments amongst the collection of complete manuscripts in the ÖNB.
The art-historical index project Mitteleuropäische Schulen (FWF Einzelprojekt P19684), based at the Otto Pächt Archives at the University of Vienna, searched the incunabula collection of the ÖNB for outstanding book decorations and made isolated detailed observations. Thanks to the work of Amand Tif, it was possible to locate a further 26 fragments with musical notation.
A systematic search for musical fragments among the postincunabula is not possible, for the number of books is far too great. Nonetheless, to date 20 books with relevant remains of music manuscripts have been found. The ÖNB staff responsible for the State Hall, Anton Knoll and Josef Habusta, are always in search of new leaves of fragments.
Modern catalogues (Mazal SN 1-5) and a database (Hanna) were used to track down 46 music fragments in the Series nova collection, which was separated from the fragment collection at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.
Provenance of the fragments
The collection of books that the ÖNB has accumulated over time is not homogenous at all. The heart of the collection is made up of the various book collections of the Habsburgs, but over the course of the centuries various larger libraries were incorporated into the court library’s holdings. Among others, a large part of the old university library and the old city library of Vienna were taken over by the court library. Many manuscripts and books were brought to Vienna following the dissolution of the monasteries at the end of the 18th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, part of the important library of Salzburg Cathedral Chapter was incorporated into the court library.
The main geographical area that previous ownership and provenance of the manuscripts and early prints cover is, of course, that of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A far smaller proportion derives from other European countries.
The provenance of host volumes is often identical with that of the bound fragments. In addition, many sources can be placed by analysing characteristic book decorations, palaeographic or codicological features, or musicological and liturgical aspects.
Description of the indexing procedure
During the first stage of work, the fragments were recorded in a database using their shelfmarks. Recovered reused manuscripts can carry a fragment (Fragm.), music (Mus.) or a Series Nova (Cod. Ser.n.) shelfmark. Bound fragments were listed using the code of the host volume (manuscripts: Cod. or Cod. Ser.n., incunabula with a shelfmark beginning Ink-, later prints usually with a three-part combination such as 15.F.2). Then the music fragments were digitalised, measured and processed using an image editing programme. Thanks to the images of the fragments, important basic information can be added to the sets of data. Where known, the following information is available for all fragments: shelfmark (shelfmark of host volume), provenance, type of book (codex), time of origin, notation, length, size, columns, book decoration, content (feast days), additional comments and assignment to a specific group of fragments.
Step by step, complete chant inventories of the mainly liturgical fragments are being created. As mentioned in the preliminary remarks, this work is being carried out by music students at the University of Vienna. The standard defined by CANTUS for the indexing of office manuscripts and the conventions for describing manuscripts of masses oriented on CANTUS have been used as a basis for the lists of chants. Proper offices, sequences, hymns and tropes are classified according to the current standard sources of reference (LMLO, AH und CT).
A further stage in the description of the collection of music fragments is the attempt to bring as many of the leaves stored separately as possible together in coherent groups, thus returning them to their original codicological and liturgical context prior to reuse. For this reason, all fragments were categorised according to different criteria.
In general, sources were differentiated according to their notation: notation in neumes, without lines (NN), early staff notation (FLN), Esztergom notation (Gran), Cistercian notation (ZN), gothic notation (GN), square notation (QN) and mensural notation (MN). The next level within the order distinguishes between mass and office manuscripts, then classifies the manuscripts as missals, graduals, sequenciaries ... (mass) or breviaries, antiphonaries, hymnals ... (office). Within these sub-groups, the manuscripts are differentiated further according to the number of columns and date of origin. This method of categorisation has proven highly effective, and is clearly superior to purely palaeographical methods.
While the ÖNB’s collection of fragments appears confusing at first glance, so far it has been possible to order and unite 30 groups of fragments, using the method described above. The group names derive from the type of notation, type of book, and progressive numbering (e.g. FLNA1: early staff notation antiphonary 1; GNG3: gothic notation gradual 3).
The results of the indexing of the music fragment collection of the ÖNB are made available to scholars and public in an online database, which can be searched in various ways. Besides the basic information and chant inventories, images of all fragments and groups of fragments can be viewed online.
Structure of the fragment descriptions
The fragment descriptions follow common musicological standards and conventions. Chants and rubrics are indexed, but not readings or prayers found in the breviaries or missals. Furthermore, for these kinds of fragment descriptions it is deemed sufficient to give only an incipit of known chants already documented in relevant reference sources (such as CANTUS, CANTUS-ECE, LMLO, AH, CT and the Graduale Romanum). Office chants are classified according to R.-J. Hesbert’s CAO numbers. If no relevant CAO number exists, the CANTUS-ID is used instead. References taken from AH are always given in the order volume-number. The concordance column contains the abbreviations of Hesbert’s 12 reference sources (cf. Abbreviations). Missing rubrics for the name of the feast are noted in square brackets, as are missing parts of chant texts.
Size measurements refer to the dimensions of the fragments as a whole (in millimetres, further details can be seen in the images of the fragments which contain a ruler). If not specified otherwise, the fragments are usually parchment.
There are no descriptions of the host volumes’ content, as in most cases there is no connection between this and the fragments. Lists of secondary literature referring solely to the content of the host volume have also been dispensed with.
The publication of these short descriptions, the chant inventories and in particular the images of the fragments intends to render this collection of sources, hitherto known only to a few specialists, familiar and accessible to a larger audience, and to form a basis for further investigation and research. The remarks and explanations given here do not claim to be complete or final.
Besides the publication containing a selection of exceptional fragments referred to above, two further printed publications are in preparation. A monograph on the history of medieval liturgy and music at Mondsee Abbey will edit the extensive fragment collection from the Abbey of St. Michael. A facsimile edition of the numerous fragments from Hungary (the Archdiocese of Esztergom) is planned.