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Newly Digitized: Spontini’s Fernand Cortez, in 2 versions

October 30th, 2013

Nearly two years ago, I shared a vocal score of Gaspare Spontini’s propagandistic Napoleonic-era opera Fernand Cortez (1809), a precursor of Auber’s La muette de Portici (1828) and the heights of 19th century grand opera. Joining it now are two other editions of the opera. The first is a full score of the original 1809 version, to a libretto by Joseph-Alphonse d’Esmenard and Etienne de Jouy. Premiered at the height of the Peninsular War, the opera portrays Cortez (or Napoleon) as enlightened hero, versus the savage Aztec (or Spanish) priests. The production was not an unqualified success, and despite its grand spectacle – in addition to dramatic, militaristic choruses and elaborate ballet sequences, a fully-staged production requires a number of live horses and includes a scene in which Cortez burns his own fleet – it was withdrawn after only a handful of performances.

[Fernand Cortez ou la conquête du Mexique : sept pl. de costumes / par François-Guillaume Ménageot]
Costume designs by François-Guillaume Ménageot (1809): Montesuma, Telasco, Amazily, Pontife mexicain. [Fernand Cortez ou la conquête du Mexique : sept pl. de costumes / par François-Guillaume Ménageot]. 1809
Source: gallica.bnf.fr (click for higher resolution image)

Even in 1809, as Napoleon’s Spanish campaign dragged on, Fernand Cortez was uncomfortably behind the political times; by 1816, a work celebrating a Napoleon-esque conqueror’s achievements was obviously out of style.1 In response, Spontini and Jouy made heavy revisions for the second version, changing the plot, characters, music, and dramatic structure of the opera. As Philipp Spitta’s lengthy article in Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians describes, in the revival of May, 1817, “the 3rd act now became the 1st, the 1st act the 2nd, and a part of the 2nd the 3rd.”2 If anything, this simplifies the structural changes; Théodore de Lajarte provides a more detailed enumeration in Curiosités de l’Opéra (1883).3 Among numerous other revisions, the role of Montezuma is entirely new to the second version, and Spontini rewrote Cortez’s part (originally for haute-contre) for tenor or bari-tenor.

While the second version of Fernand Cortez enjoyed greater success, remaining a fixture of the repertoire through the early 1830s, Spontini made still more changes to the third act for Berlin productions in 1824 and 1832, this time with the assistance of the poet M. Théaulon (Marie-Emmanuel-Guillaume-Marguerite Théaulon de Lambert). The vocal score here, most likely published ca. 1830, probably reflects one of these later versions; although I haven’t yet compared the editions measure-to-measure, most notably it does not include the lengthy 3rd act ballet published in Erard’s 1817 full score (HOLLIS record).

  • Fernand Cortez
    Fernand Cortez; ou, La conquête du Mexique, tragédie lyrique en 3 actes, de De Jouy et Esmenard. Mise en musique par Gasparo Spontini. Représentée pour le première fois, sur le théâtre de l’Académie royale de musique, le 15, 28 novembre 1809. Paris : Imbault [1809?]. Mus 813.2.622
  • Fernand Cortez. Vocal score
    Fernand Cortez, ou, La conquête du Mexique : tragédie lyrique en 3 actes / de De Jouy et Esmènard ; mise en musique par G. Spontini. Nouv. éd. Paris : Melles. Erard, [1830?]. Mus 813.2.622.5

-Kerry Masteller


1. Note that while the opera had been commissioned by Napoleon and the 1809 edition is dedicated to his sister, Caroline Bonaparte, the later edition is prudently dedicated to the Comte de Pradel, who, as ministre de la Maison du Roi, had jurisdiction over the Opéra.

2. Phillipp Spitta, “Spontini, Gasparo Luigi Pacifico,” A Dictionary of Music and Musicians (A.D. 1450-1889), comp. George Grove (London: Macmillan, 1883), 3:669. http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/006210888

3. Théodore de Lajarte, Curiosités de l’Opéra (Paris: Calmann Lévy, 1883), 175-183. http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001458669

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Newly Digitized: Meyerbeer Scores

October 18th, 2013

The Loeb Music Library recently digitized several scores by Giacomo Meyerbeer (Jacob Liebermann Meyer Beer, 1791-1864), a German-born musician who became one of the most successful stage composers of the 19th century. Nine complete operas are now available, several in multiple editions, which document Meyerbeer’s compositional development though a legendary partnership with French dramatist and librettist Eugène Scribe, culminating in iconic works which led to the establishment of French grand opera as a distinct genre.

Giacomo Meyerbeer, Title page, Robert le Diable. Mus 743.3.601.5

Giacomo Meyerbeer, Title page, Robert le Diable. Mus 743.3.601.5 (click to enlarge)

In his mature scores — Robert le Diable (1831), Les Huguenots (1836), Le Prophète (1849), L’étoile du Nord (1854), L’Africaine (1865, posth.), all to libretti by Scribe and first performed at the Paris Opéra, and Le Pardon de Ploërmel (Dinorah) (1859), first given at the Opéra comique (Salle Favart) to a libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré (librettists also for Gounod’s Faust and Roméo et Juliette, Thomas’ Mignon and Hamlet, and Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann) — the composer established a highly popular genre in which musical numbers combined pomp, ritual, and highly inventive orchestration evoking local color, in works where large choruses and intimate arias and duets are interspersed with balletic divertissements within the context of a sweeping historical canvas.

  • [Robert le diable. Vocal score]
    Robert le Diable : opéra en 5 actes / paroles de MM. E. Scribe & G. Delavigne ; musique de Giacomo Meyerbeer ; partition de piano, arrangée par J.P. Pixis. [1st ed.]. Paris: M. Schlesinger, [1831]. Mus 743.3.601.5
  • [Huguenots. Vocal score]
    Les Huguenots : opéra en cinq actes / paroles de Scribe ; musique de G. Meyerbeer ; partition chant et piano. Ed. définitive et complète. Paris : Ph. Maquet, [1888?]. Mus 743.3.624
  • [Prophète. Vocal score]
    Le prophète : opéra en 5 actes / paroles de M.E. Scribe ; musique de G. Meyerbeer ; partition pour piano et chant ; arrangée par Garaudé. Paris : Brandus & Cie., [1849?]. Mus 743.3.661.1
  • [Étoile du Nord. Vocal score]
    L’étoile du nord : opéra comique en trois actes / paroles de Mr. E. Scribe ; musique de G. Meyerbeer ; partition piano et chant par A. de Garandé. Paris : Brandus, [1854?]. Mus 743.3.642
  • [Étoile du Nord. Vocal score. Italian]
    La stella del Nord : opera semiseria in tre atti / di Eugenio Scribe ; traduzione di E. Picchi ; musica di G. Meyerbeer ; riduzione con accompagnamento di pianoforte. Milano : F. Lucca, [1868?]. Mus 743.3.640.5
  • [Africaine. Vocal score. Selections]
    L’Africaine : deuxième partie de l’opéra en 5 actes / paroles de E. Scribe ; musique de G. Meyerbeer ; partition chant et piano [par E. Vauthrot] précédée d’une préface de J. Fétis et contenant 22 morceaux et fragments inédits … qui n’ont pas été exécutés à la représentation de l’Opéra à Paris. Paris : G. Brandus & S. Dufour, [1865?]. Mus 743.3.666
  • [Africaine. Vocal score]
    L’Africaine : opéra en cinq actes / paroles de E. Scribe ; musique de Giacomo Meyerbeer ; partition chant & piano arrangée par E. Vauthrot. Paris : G. Brandus & S. Dufour, [1865?]. Mus 743.3.666.3
  • [Africaine. Vocal score]
    L’Africaine : opéra en 5 actes / paroles de E. Scribe ; musique de G. Meyerbeer ; partition chant & piano arrangée par E. Vauthrot. Paris : G. Brandus & S. Dufour, [1865?] . Mus 743.3.666.5
  • [Le Pardon de Ploërmel (Dinorah)]
    Le pardon de Ploërmel : opéra comique en trois actes / paroles de J. Barbieret M. Carré ; musique de Giacomo Meyerbeer ; partition chant et piano. Paris : G. Brandus et S. Dufour, [1859?]. Mus 743.3.692.5

Also available are three early Italian works. Margarita d’Anjou premiered at La Scala in 1820, to a text by Felice Romani, librettist for many operas of Bellini (including La Sonnambula and Norma), Donizetti (L’elisir d’amore, Lucrezia Borgia, Anna Bolena), Rossini (Il Turco in Italia) and Verdi (Un giorno di regno).

Emma di Resburgo and Il Crociato in Egitto are both Venetian operas, the former first given at the Teatro San Benedetto in 1819, and Il Crociato in Egitto at Teatro La Fenice in 1824, to libretti by Gaetano Rossi, librettist of Rossini’s Tancredi and Semiramide, as well as to many operas by Johann Simon Mayr, Saverio Mercadante, and Donizetti (Linda di Chamounix, Maria Padilla). Il Crociato in Egitto was the first work to bring Meyerbeer recognition throughout Europe, and the last operatic work by a major composer to contain a major role for castrato (1824).

  • [Margarita d’Anjou. Vocal score]
    Margherita d’Anjou : opera semiseria in due atti / Composto e ridotto per il cembalo da G. Meyerbeer. Paris : M. Schlesinger, [1827?]. Mus 743.3.610 B
  • [Emma di Resburgo. Vocal score. German & Italian]
    Emma von Roxburgh : grosse Oper in zwei Aufzügen / componirt von J. Meyerbeer ; vollständiger Klavier-Auszug mit deutschem und italienischem text von J.P. Schmidt. Berlin : in der Schlesingerschen Buch- und Musikhandlung ; Schlesinger, [1820?]. Mus 743.3.676
  • [Crociato in Egitto. Vocal score]
    Il crociato in Egitto : opera seria. Ridotto con accompagniamento de pianoforte. Paris, Chez Pacini, [18–]. Mus 743.3.650

Find these scores in our collection of Digital Scores and Libretti, or browse the list in HOLLIS.

Finally, from library’s general collections is a digitized volume of arias with several selections from Meyerbeer’s works, published in 1909, testimony to his long-standing popularity. He was, after all, the operatic composer who filled the “gap” between the death of Mozart (1791) and the birth of Richard Strauss (1864)!

-Robert Dennis

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Newly Digitized: Schubert Early Editions, Liszt Arrangements

September 26th, 2013

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, one of the Music Library’s ongoing digitization projects has been built around first and early editions from the Packard Humanities Institute Music Collection, which includes the world’s largest collection of Schubert first editions outside of Vienna. Nearly 170 of those editions are now part of our Digital Scores and Libretti; recent additions include these copies of “Erlkönig,” “An die Nachtigall,” “An Sylvia,” and others, as well as a set of Franz Liszt’s piano arrangements of Schubert’s Lieder.


Franz Schubert, Erlkönig. Merritt Room Mus 800.1.746.5 PHI (click to enlarge)

Franz Schubert, Erlkönig. Merritt Room Mus 800.1.746.5 PHI (click to enlarge)

  • Erlkönig
    Erlkönig : 1tes Werk / Ballade von Göthe; in Musik gesetzt und Seiner Exzellenz dem hochgebohrnen Herrn Herrn Moritz Grafen von Dietrichstein in tiefer Ehrfurcht gewidmet von Franz Schubert. Wien: in Comission bey Cappi und Diabelli, [1821].
    Merritt Room Mus 800.1.746.5 PHI
  • Songs. Selections
    Der Schmetterling und Die Berge / von Friedrich Schlegel. An den Mond / von Fr. v. Hölty; in Musik gesetzt für eine Singstimme mit Pianoforte Begleitung von Franz Schubert; 57tes Werk. [1st ed.] Wien: Thad. Weigl, [1826].
    Merritt Room Mus 800.1.732.6 PHI
  • Songs. Selections
    Heimliches Lieben; Das Weinen; Vor meiner Wiege / von Leitner. An Sylvia / von Shakespeare; in Musik gesetz für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Piano-forte von Franz Schubert. Wien: A. Diabelli, [1828].
    Merritt Room Mus 800.1.732.10 PHI
  • Songs. Selections
    An die Nachtigall; Wiegenlied / von Claudius. Iphigenia / von Mayrhofer; für eine Singstimme mit Begl. des Piano-Forte; in Musik gesetzt von Franz Schubert; 98tes Werk. Wien: A. Diabelli, [1829].
    Merritt Room Mus 800.1.744 PHI
  • Songs. Selections
    Drey Gedichte: in Musik gesetzt für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte: 111tes Werk / von Franz Schubert. [1st ed.] Wien: J. Czerny, [1829].
    Merritt Room Mus 800.1.735.15 PHI

Franz Schubert, Title page, Lob der Thränen, transcribed for piano by Franz Liszt. Merritt Room Mus 737.1.455 PHI (click to enlarge)

Franz Schubert, Title page, Lob der Thränen, transcribed for piano by Franz Liszt. Merritt Room Mus 737.1.455 PHI (click to enlarge)

Songs. Selections; arranged
Lieder / von Fr. Schubert; für das Piano-forte übertragen von Fr. Liszt. Wien: T. Haslinger; Wien: A. Diabelli, [1830s].
Merritt Room Mus 737.1.455 PHI

16 of the more than 60 Lieder arrangements made by Franz Liszt in the mid-19th century, in editions published by Diabelli and Haslinger.

  • Diabelli editions
    Contents: Sey mir gegrüsst — Auf dem Wasser zu singen : Barcarolle — Erlkönig — Meeresstille — Frühlingsglaube — Gretchen am Spinnrade — Ständchen von Shakespeare — Die Forelle — Der Wanderer.
  • Haslinger editions
    Contents: Lob der Thränen — Aufenthalt ; Am Meer (aus Schwanengesang) — Der Lindenbaum (aus Winterreise) — Liebesbotschaft ; Aufenthalt (T.H.7684) ; Ständchen = Sérénade (aus Schwanengesang).

-Kerry Masteller

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Newly Digitized Manuscript: Peter von Winter, Fratelli Rivali, Act I

September 12th, 2013

Peter von Winter (1754-1825), violinist, conductor, and composer, began writing music for the stage in the early 1780s; his initial foray into opera came at Munich’s Nationaltheater in 1782. Even after his appointment to positions in the electoral court (as assistant Kapellmeister in 1787, and Kapellmeister in 1798), he continued to supply works for Munich’s stages and maintained a second, peripatetic career in the theatre, taking multiple, years-long leaves in the 1790s and 1800s to compose for opera houses around Europe. The products of these journeys included well-reviewed opere seria for London, tepidly-recieved tragédies lyriques for Paris, a Singspiel sequel to Die Zauberflöte (Das Labyrinth oder Der Kampf mit den Elementen, Vienna, 1798), and works fusing multiple styles, like his greatest success, Das unterbrochene Opferfest (Vienna, 1796).1


Peter von Winter, "Qual diletto in sen m'inonda," Fratelli Rivali, seq. 103-104. Merritt Room Mus 867.3.602 (click to enlarge)

Peter von Winter, “Qual diletto in sen m’inonda,” Fratelli Rivali, seq. 103-104. Merritt Room Mus 867.3.602 (click to enlarge)

  • [Fratelli rivali. Act 1]. I fratelli rivali / musica [di?] sigr Pietro Winter. L’autunno 1793. Merritt Mus 867.3.602

Between 1791 and 1794, Winter’s travels took him to Naples and Venice, where he supplied works for performances at San Carlo and San Benedetto. This working manuscript of the first act of Peter von Winter’s I Fratelli Rivali was likely prepared for the opera’s premiere at Venice’s San Benedetto in November, 1793. The score not only shows evidence of extensive revisions to both text and music, but also contains some of the annotations – such as stage directions – necessary for its production.


Peter von Winter, "Amor in questo secolo," Fratelli Rivali, seq. 58. Merritt Room Mus 867.3.602 (click to enlarge)

Peter von Winter, “Amor in questo secolo,” Fratelli Rivali, seq. 58. Merritt Room Mus 867.3.602 (click to enlarge)

The manuscript is written in multiple hands, including that of Winter and at least one copyist. Although their handwriting is fairly similar, it seems likely that the copyist was responsible for transcribing most of the music and text, including clefs, key signatures, and much of the instrumentation. Some of the arias, including Silvio’s cavatina “Qual diletto in sen mi’nonda,” do appear to be primarily in Winter’s hand. This is unquestionably still a working draft of the score: small corrections to the music are visible throughout, while at the close of Dorinda’s aria “Amor in questo secolo,” Winter’s completion of the instrumental parts spills past the copyist’s vocal line and the printed staves, reaching into the margin and nearly to the edge of the page.


Peter von Winter, Scenes 3 and 4, Fratelli Rivali, seq. 49. Merritt Room Mus 867.3.602 (click to enlarge)

Peter von Winter, Scenes 3 and 4, Fratelli Rivali, seq. 49. Merritt Room Mus 867.3.602 (click to enlarge)

Meanwhile, in contrast to the compressed, delicate, even scratchy notation of the vocal numbers – written in several different inks now varying in color from black or brown to a faded grey – the recitatives are uniformly set down in a much looser hand, written with a broader pen nib and the same shade of ink (and on pages much more frequently splattered with water, paint, or ink wash). Whether this implies that they were all added to this draft at close to the same time is a question for further investigation.

With its clear picture of a work still very much in progress, this manuscript offers an intriguing look at the business of creating opera for the late-18th century stage.

-Kerry Masteller


1. Abert, Anna Amalie and Paul Corneilson. “Winter, Peter,” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, Web. 11 Sep. 2013. http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.ezp-pro… (Harvard access).

Tyler, Linda. “Winter, Peter,” The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Ed. Stanley Sadie. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 11 Sep. 2013. http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.ezp-pro… (Harvard access).

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Newly Digitized: Massenet’s Werther, for baritone

August 28th, 2013

Jules Massenet completed his opera based on Goethe’s novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthersin 1887; its first performance – sung in German – occurred at Vienna’s Hofoper on February 16, 1892, after Léon Carvalho, director of the Opéra-Comique, rejected the work on grounds that its somber subject matter was unsuitable for his audiences.

Jules Massenet, "Pourquoi me reveiller," Werther, pg. 176-177. Merritt Room Mus 742.14.640.5

Jules Massenet, “Pourquoi me réveiller,” Werther, pg. 176-177. Merritt Room Mus 742.14.640.5 (click to enlarge)

  • [Werther. Vocal score]. Werther: drame lyrique en quatre actes et cinq tableaux d’après Goethe; poème de M.M. Edouard Blau, Paul Milliet et Georges Hartmann; musique de J. Massenet; partition piano et chant. Paris : Heugel & Cie, [1893], c1892. Merritt Room Mus 742.14.640.5
Portrait de M. Vanni-Marcoux de l'Opéra : [photographie de presse] / Agence Mondial
Portrait de M. Vanni-Marcoux de l’Opéra : [photographie de presse] / Agence Mondial
Source: gallica.bnf.fr

The present score belonged to baritone Vanni-Marcoux (Jean Émile Diogène Marcoux, 1877-1962). He was a dominant figure in Parisian musical life following the First World War, celebrated for his performances as Massenet’s Don Quichotte. Vanni-Marcoux’s score presents the role of Werther re-written for baritone, a project that Massenet undertook in 1902 for the Italian baritone Mattia Battistini (1856-1928), who sang the role on various European stages from 1901 to 1911 (most often in Italian, but occasionally in French). Shown here is the scene from Act 3 between Charlotte and Werther leading up to the celebrated aria “Pourquoi me réveiller.”

-Robert Dennis

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Newly Digitized: 1805 Mozart Thematic Catalogue

August 15th, 2013

Included in the bulk lot of autograph manuscripts Johan Anton André purchased from Mozart’s widow Constanze in 1799 was Mozart’s Verzeichnüss aller meiner Werke, a thematic catalogue of works composed between February of 1784 and November of 1791 (now held by the British Library, and published online with extensive notes in their Digitised Manuscripts collection).1

Creating a published record of Mozart’s works was a priority for both Constanze and André; and soon after acquiring the manuscripts, André used the Verzeichnüss as the basis for a thematic catalogue published in two editions (1805 and 1828).

Thematisches Verzeichniss sämmtlicher Kompositionen von W.A. Mozart, pg.50-51 (Dec. 1789-June 1790). Merritt Room ML134.M9 A23

Thematisches Verzeichniss sämmtlicher Kompositionen von W.A. Mozart, pg.50-51 (Dec. 1789-June 1790). Merritt Room ML134.M9 A23 (click to enlarge)

This 1805 first edition – the earliest surviving lithographed book – reproduces the format and order of Mozart’s catalogue, while paraphrasing Mozart’s descriptions in German and French. On the verso of each opening, the compositions (usually five per page) are listed by date, title, and instrumentation, while the corresponding musical incipits appear on the recto.

The 1828 second edition, in German, transcribes Mozart’s descriptions of each piece. Both correct a mistake in the manuscript and number the works 1-145.

While the task of compiling a complete thematic catalogue occupied André for over 30 years, it remained unpublished at his death in 1842, although it survives in manuscript. Nonetheless, his work studying and publishing Mozart’s works remains important to later editors and scholars.

-Kerry Masteller


1. Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Verzeichnüss aller meiner Werke vom Monath febrario 1784 bis Monath [November] 1[791]. British Library, Zweig MS 63, http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Zweig_MS_63.

2. André, Johan Anton. W. A. Mozart’s thematischer Catalog: wie er solchen vom 9. Februar 1784 bis zum 15. November 1791 eigenhändig geschrieben hat nebst einem erläuternden Vorbericht (Offenbach: André, 1828), http://reader.digitale-sammlungen.de/en/fs1/object/display/bsb10598863_00001.html.

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Newly Digitized: Cherubini and von Winter

July 24th, 2013

In this overview of recently digitized materials, we add vocal scores by Luigi Cherubini and Peter von Winter to the works already in our collection of Digital Scores and Libretti. They belong to the Ruth Neils and John M. Ward Collection of Opera Scores, a set of over 8000 scores begun by the conductor Jean-Marie Martin, expanded by collector and book dealer Bernard Peyrotte, and now held at the Music Library and the Harvard Theatre Collection1.

Luigi Cherubini, 1760-1842

Whether the peril is an avalanche (Eliza), an importunate lover-turned-kidnapper (Faniska), a burning castle (Lodoïska AND Faniska), or the smaller spectacles of simple human jealousy and ambition, Cherubini can be relied upon for operas full of high drama. See our earlier digitization posts for links to other editions of these operas (both full and vocal scores), as well as a number of others.

Luigi Cherubini, Overture, Faniska. Merritt Room Mus 637.1.618.5

Luigi Cherubini, Overture, Faniska. Merritt Room Mus 637.1.618.5

  • [Deux journées. Vocal score. German & French]. Les Deux journées = Der Wasserträger: auch unter den namen, Graf Armand, oder Die beiden gefahrvollen Tage: ein Singspiel in drey Aufzügen / von Cherubini; Klavierauszug. Neue Ausgabe. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, [1818?]. Merritt Room Mus 637.1.618.5
  • [Faniska. Vocal score. German & Italian]. Faniska: (italienisch und deutsch): eine Oper in drei Akten / von Cherubini; im Klavierauszug von Bierey. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, [1806?]. RISM A/I, CC 2028,I,234. Merritt Room Mus 637.1.618.5

Peter von Winter, 1754-1825
One of four operas that Peter von Winter, Munich’s Kapellmeister, wrote for the King’s Theatre during his stay in London from 1803-1805. Unlike the tragédies lyriques Winter composed for Paris, these works, all with libretti by Da Ponte, were considered successes. Grotta di Calipso was revived in Munich in 1807, as Calypso, and received a lengthy review in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung.2


Peter von Winter, Title page, Grotta di Calipso. Merritt Room Mus 637.1.618.5

Peter von Winter, Title page, Grotta di Calipso. Merritt Room Mus 637.1.618.5

  • [Grotta di Calipso. Vocal score. German & Italian]. Calipso: dramma per musica in due atti = Calypso / dal Sigr. P. Winter; im Klavierauszuge vom Musikdir. M.G. Fischer. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, [1809?].
    RISM A/I, W 1296. Merritt Room Mus 637.1.618.5

-Kerry Masteller


1. The collection includes scores in both the Loeb Music Library and the Harvard Theatre Collection. HOLLIS search results for catalogued scores in each library: Ruth Neils and John M. Ward Collection of Opera Scores (Loeb Music Library) and John Milton and Ruth Neils Ward Collection (Harvard Theatre Collection). Many thanks to Andrea Cawelti and Christina Linklater, for their help in constructing the correct search for scores from the Harvard Theatre Collection.

2. [Review], Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung 9 (1 January 1807): 560-563, http://hdl.handle.net/2027/nyp.33433069052367?urlappend=%3Bseq=299.

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Newly Digitized: Girolamo Crescentini, Sei cantate e diciotto ariette

July 10th, 2013

A fixture of operatic and concert stages at the turn of the nineteenth century, the castrato Girolamo Crescentini (1762-1846) was particularly known for his showpiece aria “Ombra adorata aspetta,” which he inserted in Nicola Zingarelli’s Giulietta e Romeo (1796).1

By the time he published the collection Sei cantata e diciotto arietta, Crescentini had been retired from the stage for nearly a decade, after six years (1806-1812) spent at Napoleon’s court as a performer and teacher. When he returned to Bologna in 1813, he took a position at the recently-founded Liceo Filarmonico – today the Conservatorio di Musica G.B. Martini – before moving to a similar position in Naples.2 There, his pupils included Isabella Colbran, and his vocal exercises and treatises remained influential throughout the century with proponents of bel canto. A brief sketch of his career in the Musical World calls him “the Nestor and prince of song.”3

Girolamo Crescentini, Il Sogno. Merritt Room Mus 641.369.601

Girolamo Crescentini, Il Sogno. Merritt Room Mus 641.369.601

  • [Cantatas. Selections]. Sei cantate e diciotto ariette a voce sola con accompagnamento di forte-piano / composte dal Cav: Girolamo Crescentini. 1 ms. score (18 leaves). Merritt Room Mus 641.369.601

This manuscript contains the first two of six cantatas in the set, Il Sogno and Il Primo Amore.

Susan Euphemia Douglas-Hamilton (née Beckford), Duchess of Hamilton by Henry Cousins, after Willis (Willes) Maddox. NPG D35287
Susan Euphemia Douglas-Hamilton (née Beckford), Duchess of Hamilton.
Mezzotint, ca. 1850, by Henry Cousins, after Willis (Willes) Maddox.
NPG D35287, Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Like the published edition, the title page (written in a different hand, on different paper) includes a dedication to the Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon, Susan Euphemia Beckford, who had assumed the title in 1819. A well-known and wealthy patroness, she had been made an honorary member of Bologna’s Accademia Filarmonica, most likely in 1821. Her personal effects, now in the collections at Lennoxlove, include her honorary diploma, as well as a Pleyel piano given to her by her father in 1828 (possibly used during Chopin’s visit to Hamilton Palace in 1848).4

Find a number of other manuscript scores, treatises and early editions, and images of Crescentini in Europeana. And don’t forget, you can browse many other scores in our special collection of Digital Scores and Libretti.

-Kerry Masteller


1. A vocal score of the aria, digitized by Houghton Library: Ombra adorato aspetta : scena in the opera of Giulietta e Romeo : expressly composed for Sigr. Chevalier Crescentini / by Sigr. Zingarelli. London : Published by Monro & May, 11 Holborn Bars (near Middle Row), [183-?]. Theatre Collection M1508.Z77 G5 1830. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL.HOUGH:5360910.

2. Sartori, Claudio. Il Regio Conservatorio di Musica “G. B. Martini” de Bologna (Firenze: Felice le Monnier, 1942), 118-119. http://hollis.harvard.edu/?itemid=|library/m/aleph|000438640 (HOLLIS record).

3. “The Great Singing-Masters of Italy,” The Musical World 7 (1 December, 1837): 177, http://books.google.com/books?id=EgkVAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA177#v=onepage.

See also “Biographische Notizen ausgezeichnetster italienischer Gesanglehrer der neuern und neuesten Zeit,” Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung 39 (20 September 1837): 613-617, http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.l0067816280?urlappend=%3Bseq=353.

4. Virtual Hamilton Palace Trust, “Hamilton Palace: Treasures of the Palace,” http://hamilton.rcahms.gov.uk/treasures57.html.

The collection also contains Willes Maddox’s 1852 portrait of the duchess at her piano: Susan Euphemia Beckford, Duchess of Hamilton, Wife of Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton.

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Newly Digitized: George Onslow, quartets

June 26th, 2013

Despite popularity and public acclaim during his lifetime, the wealthy Anglo-French composer George Onslow (1784-1853) may be best known today – when he’s remembered at all – either as the “French Beethoven,” or for the event commemorated by his string quintet op. 38, “De la balle” (“The Bullet”), completed in 1829 during his recovery from a hunting accident.

Georges Onslow / H. Grévedon
Georges Onslow / H. Grévedon
Source: gallica.bnf.fr

To an extent, his sobriquet is clever advertising: an 1830 notice for the quartets and quintets by his publisher Pleyel proclaims Onslow “notre Beethoven français” in the same sentence that it points out to prospective buyers the quality of the paper and engraving, the portrait frontispiece by the artist and lithographer Grévedon, and the published list of subscribers.1 Whoever first coined the phrase, it stuck, despite Onslow’s uneasy engagement with Beethoven’s late style in print and in the chamber music he composed in the 1830s and early 1840s.2

The three sets of parts digitized here, however, date from over a decade earlier in his career, in the mid-1810s and early 1820s, during his first flurry of compositions for string quartet: nos. 1-12 were composed between 1807-1816, and nos. 13-15 in 1822-1823. Note the metronome indications in nos. 12 and 15; Johann Nepomuk Maelzel had patented his version of the device in 1815, and assiduously promoted its use, going so far as to send samples to composers around Europe.3

George Onslow, String quartet no. 12 (op. 10, no. 3), Merritt Room Mus 767.795.323.7

George Onslow, String quartet no. 12 (op. 10, no. 3). Merritt Room Mus 767.795.323.7

With one exception (the quartets nos. 16-18, composed in 1828), Onslow did not return to the form until the 1830s – after his encounter with Beethoven’s late style – when he composed a second sequence of quartets, nos. 19-36. These and others can be viewed in the collections of the Danish National Digital Sheet Music Archive: Georges Onslow (1784-1853): String quartets, quintets and other chamber music.

-Kerry Masteller


1. “Souscription A la Collection complète des Quintetti et Quatuors de George Onslow,” Revue musicale 8 (1830): 282-283, http://archive.org/stream/revuemusicale18308pari#page/282/mode/2up.

2. On Onslow and Beethoven, see Viviane Niaux, “George Onslow: le ‘Beethoven français’?” Les sources du romantisme français : à la croisée des influences italiennes et germaniques (1780-1830) (Venise: Italie, 2009), 1-18, http://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00510733.

3. Maetzel, Johann Nepomuk, letter to Breitkopf & Härtel, 8 April 1817. Quoted in Günther Haupt, “J. R. Mälzels Briefe an Breitkopf & Härtel,” Der Bär: Jahrbuch von Breitkopf & Härtel auf das jahr 1927: 130. http://hollis.harvard.edu/?itemid=|library/m/aleph|006744519 (HOLLIS record).

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Your voices tune, and raise them high…

June 11th, 2013

While it is a cliché of blogging to apologize for one’s long absence while quietly rejoining the online conversation, nevertheless: apologies! We’re back, with quite a backlog of recently (and not-so-recently) digitized items to tell you about. Let’s begin with some Handel by way of Mozart, shall we?

Title page, Timotheus, oder, die Gewalt der Musik. Merritt Room ML54.H36 A4 1791

Title page, Timotheus, oder, die Gewalt der Musik. Merritt Room ML54.H36 A4 1791

Handel, George Frideric, 1685-1759. [Alexander’s feast. Libretto. German]
Timotheus, oder, die Gewalt der Musik : eine grosse Cantate / aus dem Englischen des Dryden übersetzt von Carl Wilhelm Ramler ; in Musik gesetzt von G.F. Händel ; instrumentirt von W.A. Mozart.
Merritt Room ML54.H36 A4 1791

A very rare libretto for Handel’s Alexander’s Feast, arranged by Mozart in the summer of 1790, for a probable performance in 1791. This arrangement (K. 591) was one of four – with Acis and Galatea, Messiah, and Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day – commissioned by Mozart’s patron Baron von Swieten for the concerts at the Gesellschaft der Associierten.

Find a critical edition of Mozart’s score in the NMA Online (Neue Mozart Ausgabe: Digitized Version). Handel’s manuscript is part of the Ricasoli Collection at the University of Louisville, and is available in the IMSLP, with a 19th century Peters edition of the Mozart arrangement.

-Kerry Masteller