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Series One: Autograph Music Manuscripts from the Musikbibliothek der Stadt Leipzig

Part 1: Music Manuscripts of Bach, Haydn, Handel and Mendelssohn


Publisher's Note

Leipzig, in Saxony, has been a major trade centre since the twelfth century.  The University of Leipzig was founded in 1409 and printing came to the city by 1485. The city achieved prominence during the Renaissance and was also at the forefront of the Reformation.  Martin Luther preached at the Thomaskirche in 1539 and this became a hub of Lutheran Church Music. The role of Thomaskantor, or music director at the Thomasschule, was a prestigious one. It was to this post that Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was appointed in 1723.  He made an immediate impact, composing and performing works such as the Magnificat (1723), the St John Passion (1724) and the St Matthew Passion (1727).  Leipzig was to remain Bach’s home for the next 27 years. In 1729 he also took over the direction of the Collegium music group which had been established by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), a law student at the university in 1702.  The Collegium performed vocal and instrumental works in a variety of settings across Leipzig including regular Friday sessions at Zimmerman’s coffee house. Bach’s Wohltemperierte Klavier was performed by the group. Bach filled this role for 12 years, 1727-1736 and 1739-1741.

The next major figure to dominate Leipzig musical life was Johann Adam Hiller (1728-1804). He founded the Musikübende Gesellschaft in 1775 and was the driving force behind the construction of the Gewandhaus in 1781.  This was a much needed new musical venue in the city, seating 500 which quickly established a reputation for performing important new works. Mozart appeared at the Gewandhaus in 1789 and Haydn’s The Creation (1800) and The Seasons (1801) were given their premieres there.  Beethoven’s 1st, 3rd and 5th symphonies came to the Gewandhaus shortly after their premieres in Vienna.  Schumann’s 1st, 2nd and 4th symphonies and Schubert’s great C Major symphony also received their first performance here. Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) took over as Director of the Gewandhaus in 1835 and held the post until his death.  It was here that he wrote and performed his 3rd symphony and the Ruy Blas overture.  In 1840 he revived interest in Bach with a 3 clavier concert featuring Liszt, Ferdinand Hiller and himself as soloists.  Mendelssohn also founded the Leipzig Conservatory in 1843. Music publishing was established in Leipzig with the foundation of Breitkopf in 1719, C F Peters in 1800, Hofmeister in 1807 and Messeburger in 1849. Given the richness of this musical tradition it is no surprise that Leipzig also possesses a fine music library.  The Musikbibliothek der Stadt Leipzig has benefited from the gradual gathering together of a number of individual and institutional collections. In this microfilm edition we have focussed on the library’s holdings of Bach, Haydn, Händel and Mendelssohn manuscripts, and on letters by Mendelssohn and Clara and Robert Schumann.  These were described in detail in the following library catalogues:

  • Handschriften der Werke Johann Sebastian Bachs in der Musikbibliothek der Stadt Leipzig (1964)
  • Handschriften und ältere Drucke der Werke Georg Friedrich Händels in der Musikbibliothek der Stadt Leipzig (1966)
  • Zeitgenössische Drucke und Handschriften der Werke Joseph Haydns in der Musikbibliothek der Stadt Leipzig (1962)
  • Autographen, Erstausgaben und Frühdrucke der Werke von Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in Leipziger Bibliotheken und Archiven (1972)
  • Erst- und Frühdrucke von Robert Schumann in der Musikbibliothek Leipzig (1960)

We have used these catalogues as the basis of our detailed listings.  Scholars should note that a few manuscripts could not be filmed on account of their fragile condition: Poel mus Ms 355; Bach Sammlung Becker Ms 3 (s1-10); Bach Sammlung Becker Ms 9; Bach Sammlung Becker Ms Sx14 (Anh 57); Bach Sammlung Peters Ms a. R1*-R5*;  Bach Sammlung Peters Ms a.1*; Haydn mss PM 4694 and III.2.77; Handel ms III.5.13.   BWV numbers have been given for many of the Bach manuscripts, referring to W Schmeider’s Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke Johann Sebastian Bachs: Bach-Werke Verzeichnis of 1950.



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