Salzburg Reisinger Cover

Dommusikarchiv Salzburg (A–Sd): Thematischer Katalog der musikalischen Quellen, Reihe A
ed. by Eva Neumayr and Lars E. Laubhold
Vienna: Hollitzer, 2018 (Schriftenreihe des Archivs der Erzdiözese Salzburg 17)
952 pp., € 145.00, ISBN 978-3-99012-509-0

Musik am Dom zu Salzburg: Repertoire und liturgisch gebundene Praxis zwischen hochbarocker Repräsentation und Mozart-Kult
by Eva Neumayr, Lars E. Laubhold, and Ernst Hintermaier 
Vienna: Hollitzer, 2018 (Schriftenreihe des Archivs der Erzdiözese Salzburg 18)
432 pp., € 55.00, ISBN 978-3-99012-539-7

Salzburg Cathedral holds one of Austria’s most important musical archives. A detailed and easily accessible catalog of its contents was long a desideratum—and now has finally been achieved. It was Ernst Hintermaier who began such a project already in the 1970s. During the last years, it became possible to put together a catalog within the framework of a project undertaken by the RISM-working group Salzburg (2007–14), funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and carried out by Eva Neumayr and Lars E. Laubhold. Their results have recently been presented in two complementary volumes, the first containing a detailed inventory and description of the archive’s musical sources, and in the second, an analysis, interpretation, and description of the wider context of this material.

The first of the two volumes, vol. 17 of the Schriftenreihe des Archivs der Erzdiözese Salzburg, presents a thematic source catalog of impressive extent (almost 900 pages). At its center stands the “Signaturreihe A,” which represents the musical stock of the Salzburg Domarchiv (Cathedral Archives; RISM-siglum: A-Sd). The collection contains manuscript copies of performance material used by the Salzburg Hofkapelle and other ensembles that performed at the Cathedral during the period from the last third of the 17th to the middle of the 19th century. It includes works by composers such as Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644–1794), Johann Ernst Eberlin (1702–62), Leopold Mozart (1719–87), Wolfgang Amadé Mozart (1756–91), Michael Haydn (1737–1806), and Luigi Gatti (1740–1817). Most has been preserved without major losses until today.

The data was compiled by the RISM-working group Salzburg for the RISM (Répertoire International des Sources Musicales) open access online database,[1] from which the printed catalog itself has been extrapolated (with some revisions). It thus serves not only as stand-alone publication, but also as a link to the RISM database, which adds to the volume’s material all the advantages of digital humanities research, including search and filter functions, cross references, and links. The long-term preservation of the data, often a serious problem in such projects, is fortunately provided by RISM and thus lasting access is assured. The formal correlation makes the combined use of database and book generally easy. But this does not only offer benefits: One problem caused by the RISM guidelines[2] lies in the mixture of languages, which gives the volume an impression of being inconsistent. While it can be overlooked that instrument abbreviations are based on the English names, it becomes more problematic when the language changes within a single information category (e.g., in the section of codicological information, where nearly everything is in German, the watermarks are described in English). Although this is a more general problem also in the online version of RISM itself, here in the printed catalog it might have been solved in such cases by unifying the language. The authors are well aware of such problems. In the introduction they explain their approach and editorial decisions in detail, providing the reader clear, logical, and practical instructions on how to use the catalog.

The entries themselves are categorized into three groups: (1) works sorted alphabetically by composers’ names, (2) anonymous works, and (3) collections containing multiple works, according to the following form:

  • composer’s name (and lifespan)
  • standardized title – key|| (right-aligned) sequential work number (assigned by the authors)
  • thematic catalog
  • scoring
  • title, transcribed diplomatically as found in the source
  • for each copy of the work: preserved parts and codicological information (scribes, watermarks, and paper size, with the only aspect missing being rastrological information), information on older inventory numbers and previous owners
  • as in the online RISM: information about movements, including musical incipits
  • in the last lines of each entry, again all inventory numbers known for the source, the RISM-ID, and to conclude, the document’s A-Sd shelf mark.
Reisinger Salzburg Figure 1
Figure 1: First page of the source catalog (I:3)

While the layout of the catalog is initially rather difficult to comprehend, with some practice it becomes easy to use due to the different levels of order (composer’s name, work number, inventory number), which are all clear. This enables fast searches, further helped by several attached indexes that provide:

  • beginnings of both titles and texts
  • persons
  • inventory numbers
  • watermarks.

Overall, the achievement of the authors cannot be overestimated. With its more than 2,800 entries, the catalog presents a ground-breaking reference book—much anticipated, urgently needed, thoughtfully prepared, and serving as an essential instrument for future research. The authors themselves state their goal in the introduction to the second volume:

With the systematic cataloging of the entire inventory, for the first time an overall impression of the material can been made that does not involve hasty judgements regarding actual or alleged artistic qualities. This finally makes it possible to classify individual artists and works within the historical musical practice at Salzburg Cathedral.[3]

The catalog is complemented by an extensive monograph, vol. 18 of the Schriftenreihe des Archivs der Erzdiözese Salzburg, which presents various studies that have been enabled by the collected data. The Cathedral, with its musical practices, not only formed the cultural nucleus of the episcopal court, but was generally a musical center of trans-regional relevance. Due to its status both as the seat of the archbishop (and thus related to the court, which also had an exceptional musical history) and as the city’s parish church (with its own daily religious und musical business), it played a unique role not only in the history of Salzburg, but also on a wider scale. For the first time, details are presented about liturgical, organizational, and practical aspects of the music at Salzburg Cathedral as demonstrated by the sources preserved in the archives. The individual studies by Hintermaier, Laubhold, and Neumayr—of which none is less impressive than the catalog itself—examine seven topics arranged in individual chapters:

  • implications of the Cathedral’s position within the ecclesiastical hierarchy (as the metropolitan church of the archbishop) with regard to liturgy and ceremonies
  • a historical outline of the Hofmusikkapelle (court music ensemble) from the 17th to the 19th century, after which it was reorganized as the Dommusik (the outline corresponding to the timeframe covered by the catalog)
  • implications of the Cathedral’s position as a city parish church (Stadtpfarrkirche) on musical practices (with a lively discussion about the Cathedral’s interior space)
  • Mozart as a special case
  • performance practice
  • the collection’s history (featuring an impressive compilation of watermarks and scribes)
  • manuscript copies in other collections that stemmed originally from Salzburg (which offers an idea of transfer processes and paths, as well as transmission history).

Examined especially in chapters 1 and 3, but also a common thread throughout the whole volume, is the Cathedral’s dual function as a metropolitan and city parish church. As such, the Cathedral formed a space of multilayered musical practice borne by manifold actors. Until now, this has never been examined in similar detail or with such enlightening insight.

Chapter 1 discusses the Cathedral as an ecclesiastical space in general, examining it at several different semantic levels. It elaborates the implications on musical practice held by the fact that the Cathedral was a single physical space for different ecclesiastical institutions, each with their own liturgies, actors, and feasts. This sheds new light, for example on the often-misinterpreted use of German congregational songs (Deutscher Gemeindegesang) at the Cathedral. While German songs were indeed introduced under Archbishop Hieronymus Colloredo (1732–1812), this was never within the framework of the Cathedral as a metropolitan church, but only as a city parish church. Thus, such songs were performed by the musicians of the city parish (Stadtpfarrmusikanten), never by the Cathedral choir or the Hofmusik (II:20). This is just one of many points that the authors have corrected regarding concrete musical practices at the Cathedral. A second focus of this chapter is the Cathedral’s function as the metropolitan church of the archbishop of Salzburg. As such, musical services were carried out primarily by the Cathedral choir (consisting of cathedral vicars and choralists), who for example also accompanied services on ordinary weekdays, including the liturgy of the hours with plainchant. But also the Hofmusik had manifold tasks (including providing music for High Masses, vespers, and litanies), which called them to the Cathedral on average five times a week.

The second chapter provides a historical survey of Salzburg’s Hofmusik, covering the period from the reforms of Archbishop Wolf Dietrich (1559–1617) at the end of the 16th century until the Hofmusik’s dissolution in 1806 in the course of various secularization steps, resulting in its reorganization as the Dommusik, which included the former court musicians as well as other local musicians. Overall, it presents a clear, well-argued, and source-based elaboration on the Hofmusik’s history, never becoming speculative or inflated.

Reisinger Salzburg Figure 2
Figure 2: Residenzplatz with Cathedral, Salzburg
Lithograph by Franz Josef Sandmann, approx. 1840 
By courtesy of Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Bildarchiv Austria

Chapter 3 changes the perspective, placing the focus on the Cathedral’s function as a city parish church, as which it also served from 1628, when the Cathedral was re-consecrated (II:78). This aspect had central implications for musical practice (as, for example, which musicians were in charge of which service). It is thus one of the most fascinating chapters of the volume. The research is based on a great deal of source material in the Diocesan archives concerning the city parish musicians and “Totensinger,” as first examined by Ernst Hintermaier (II:77). In the course of the introduction of the Roman Rite beginning in 1588, not only was the Hofmusik reorganized, but also the musicians of the city parish. In 1739 a statute was passed that fixed the number of musicians to one organist and four singers,[4] with one serving simultaneously as the regens chori—a formation that was retained unchanged until the ensemble’s dissolution in the mid-19th century (II:79). The authors give a prosopographic overview of the musicians mentioned in the documents in the Diocesan archives. This sheds light on many individuals who until now remained widely overlooked despite the fact that they were a central part of the Cathedral’s “daily business.” The tasks of this ensemble involved musical services for all liturgies of the city parish (masses, vespers, litanies etc.). Further, as “Totensinger” they accompanied all ecclesiastical funeral and memorial services, and were also responsible for singing at the side of the laid-out body during the Office of the Dead (II:91–92). Unfortunately, almost nothing is known about their repertoire; large portions of the works from the 17th and 18th centuries must be considered lost (II:96). Only from the early 19th century can one find both Latin[5] and German masses, vespers and litanies, as well as shorter compositions and congregational songs. The latter show that the musicians of the city parish were indeed those who performed sacred music in German at the Cathedral (II:99; here one can find also examples from the repertoire of songs). The chapter’s appendix might inspire future research on this topic, as it provides transcriptions of several archival documents. One eagerly awaits further results regarding this highly interesting part of Salzburg’s musical history.

The fourth chapter shifts the focus to Salzburg’s probably most famous musician: Wolfgang Amadé Mozart. Although initially it seems not entirely convincing to see Mozart as the outstanding “primas” of Salzburg music history once more, the authors defend their decision with his “special treatment” already in contemporary sources, on one hand, as well as with the special source situation in general, on the other. The authors directly address the caution needed here, as well as the possible traps found in material that was often consciously created for posterity (e.g. family letters). However, the chapter does not deal only with Mozart. It views Salzburg through his eyes, enabling the reader to follow his positions, agencies, and actions in the city. This reveals numerous aspects that have until now been underestimated, as well as forgotten Salzburg individuals who were part of the processes of the creation, distribution, reproduction, preparation, and performance of Mozart’s music. From this perspective, dedicating a whole chapter to Mozart is indeed reasonable. It also brings the further benefit that Mozart does not have to be used as a reference point throughout the other chapters (which would have made it a book about Mozart and not about Salzburg). Overall, for a sophisticated approach to the “Mozart phenomenon” in its Salzburg context, it is necessary “to grasp the musical life in Salzburg next to and without Mozart, since only so can there be a basis for measuring Mozart's influence on it.”[6] That this is not only possible, but even justified and exceedingly rewarding, is shown by the preceding and following chapters.

Chapter 5 presents a facet to which musicologists have been looking forward with great excitement: the examination of performance practices at the Cathedral based directly on the large amount of preserved material. Although information about performance practice is, of course, found throughout the volume in relation to various particular issues, here a concise overview is provided. For example, the chapter deals with questions regarding scoring and casting as directly related to the Cathedral’s architecture, thus not only actively following general current research approaches (focusing on physical and social spaces as factors in musical creation, practice, and perception), but also of special interest with regard to the special architectural features of this church. The four music galleries built in the 17th century, each with their own organ, had a major influence on the later development of the special “Salzburg polychorality,” (II:124) which continued into the 19th century, although probably reaching its height with the works of Biber (Kapellmeister 1684–1704). Despite the fact that this part of Salzburg’s music history has already been the focus of musicological attention,[7] the cataloguing and analysis of the sources as has now been undertaken allow further differentiations and reveal new details. For example, a transition from the “first phase” at the end of the 17th century (under Biber) took place during the first third of the 18th century, when modifications to the repertoire were implemented. This was primarily marked by a changed positioning of the musicians and with this, adaptations in the scoring of newly composed pieces, as can be deduced from the preserved performance material (II:134).

Reisinger Salzburg Figure 3
Figure 3: Interior of Salzburg Cathedral, with musicians on the four musical galleries
Engraving by Melchior Küsel, approx. 1682
Public domain, provided by Wikipedia

The focus of chapter 6 is once again the musical archive itself. The authors give an overview of its structure, history, and inventories, and also address deficits in its transmission and preservation. Not least, it includes detailed descriptions of the papers used for the manuscripts, including watermarks, a list of numerous scribes identified by name (!), as well as a systematic register of approximately 500 further yet anonymous copyists. It also contains an extensive number of handwriting samples. The volume’s plentiful images in full color are of especially great value here!

The final chapter provides an overview of transfer and distribution processes, and reports on a large number of manuscripts of Salzburg provenience that have been identified in other places, such as in the Fondo Pitti collection at the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini in Florence, or at Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland.

There are a wide number of possibilities for using both the catalog and monograph. While the catalog builds a basis for going deeper into the subject matter, after reading the studies, it is not less fascinating to take up the catalog (again) to consult concrete sources or to discover new details and connections. Together, the volumes present impressive results of essential foundational work. It is to be hoped that they will inspire a wide range of future research—on Salzburg and beyond.


  1.; searching for “A-Sd.” 
  2. Although some standardized information must be given in English, the volume as a whole is in German.
  3. Original wording: “Mit der systematischen Erschließung des Gesamtbestandes wurde erstmals ohne vorauseilende Bewertung des Materials hinsichtlich tatsächlicher oder angeblicher künstlerischer Qualitäten ein Gesamtüberblick gewonnen, der eine Einordnung einzelner Künstler und Werke in die historische Praxis der Musik am Salzburger Dom erst möglich macht.” Eva Neumayr, Lars E. Laubhold, and Ernst Hintermaier, preface to Musik am Dom zu Salzburg (Wien: Hollitzer, 2018), i.
  4. In the registers alto, tenor, and basso; the soprano was sung by a boy from the Kapellhaus (ibid., 80).
  5. Including, e.g., Mozart’s K. 259 and Michael Haydn’s Missa S. Nicolai Tolentini MH 109 (ibid., 98).
  6. Original wording: “… ein Salzburger Musikleben neben und ohne Mozart wahrzunehmen, anhand dessen erst Mozarts Einfluss auf selbiges zu ermessen wäre” (ibid., 105).
  7. Thomas Hochradner, “Vom Ende des mehrchörigen Musizierens nördlich der Alpen,” Slovenská hudba 22, No. 3/4 (1996): 465–86.


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