The Digital Manuscript Directory
In a joint project, the BAdW (content) and the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (technical realisation) developed an extensive database listing and categorising the manuscripts with Lassus’ music according to their content. The digitally accessible manuscripts are now online available with links set to the digitised sources.
Many libraries make digital representations of their historical collections available. Hence today, all printed and manuscript sources for Lassus’ music located in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek are digitally accessible (Digital Collections BSB). The Codex of Penitential Psalms of Albrecht V of Bavaria demonstrates convincingly how digitisation facilitates or even enables research.
The Codex of Penitential Psalms of Albrecht V
Highlight of the digitally accessible sources is the Codex of Penitential Psalms, developed on behalf of Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria in the years between 1559 and 1570 with the Penitential Psalms set to music by Orlande de Lassus. Munich artist Hans Mielich richly illustrated each single one of the 400 pages of the large-size two volume manuscript. Several thousand individual depictions with biblical, mythological and historical scenes illustrate and comment on the psalm texts, thus interpreting them twice: through Lassus‘ music and through Mielich’s illustrations.
The codex well deserves to be called the most magnificent music manuscript in the world. Currently, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is restoring and digitising this manuscript, volume 1 is already accessible online (see here Online-Presentation).
The codex’s materiality, format and weight as well as its delicate illustrations had made it nearly impossible to see the original. Only a digital representation facilitates detailed research. In February 2017, an interdisciplinary conference was organised on the premises of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and humanities. Entitled Andacht – Repräsentation – Gelehrsamkeit. Der Bußpsalmencodex Albrechts V., the conference resulted in an abundance of findings – possibly the beginning of further intensive research.
The Codex of Penitential Psalms is subject of the Podcast Lieblingsstück including much information and an audio sample of Lassus’ music.
Two extensive conference proceedings addressing Lassus’ music and the Münchner Hofkapelle are available online:
Orlando di Lasso in der Musikgeschichte. Bericht über das Symposion der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften München, 4.-6. Juli 1994, hrsg. von Bernhold Schmid. Bayer. Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-hist. Kl., Abhandlungen, NF, Heft 111, München 1996. (PDF)
Die Münchner Hofkapelle des 16. Jahrhunderts im europäischen Kontext. Bericht über das internationale Symposion der Musikhistorischen Kommission der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Verbindung mit der Gesellschaft für Bayerische Musikgeschichte München, 2.-4. August 2004, hrsg. von Theodor Göllner und Bernhold Schmid unter Mitarbeit von Severin Putz. Bayer. Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-hist. Kl., Abhandlungen, NF, Heft 128, München 2006. (PDF)