Our library guards and manages the historical musical scores collection of St. Michael cathedral, which is the most valuable witness of the musical past of Veszprém.  The musical scores collection contains nearly 3000 handwritten notes. The cathedral’s musical scores collection is a part of UNESCO’s International Inventory of Musical Scores, RISM.

The musical scores collection is one of the largest and richest Hungarian church musical resource collection, and in terms of 18–19th century Hungarian composers it is of primary importance. The first scores were acquired in the middle of the 1700’s after the appointment of Vencel Girányi to the organist and chorus-master position. New pieces were purchased or copied. It was necessary because the orchestra increased, according to the payroll of 1786, the orchestra consisted of 16 professional musicians, and especially after the appointment of Bishop József Bajzáth in 1777, the quality requirements also increased.

József Kollovratek came to Veszprém in 1784 from Moravia. He played an important role in extending the musical scores collection. He compiled the first scores index in 1791. It was these years that Joseph Haydn, Mozart, Bach, Pleyel and others’ pieces were included in the collection. The collection was further enriched by the scores of local musicians. We can highlight the names of Simon Linzenpoltz, Franciscus Gemin (who later changed his name to Ferenc Kemény), József Kleinmann and Ignác Ruzitska. The prebendals of the Veszprém cathedral chapter helped the musical life of the cathedral by donating scores.

Two catalogues were made from the musical scores collection in the 19th century. The first in 1825, the second in 1852. This latter one was used to continuously record the acquisitions, the last record was made in the early 1900's. Besides the catalogues, there are six volumes of “musical diaries”, so called Elenchus in the scores collection. In 1825, custodian prebendary János Külley ordered to keep them. He gave instructions to keep a log in the choir, in which they continuously record every important event related to the musical life of the cathedral. To record the exact title of the performed musical pieces and their characteristic features to identify them later. This log was kept until 1941 with minor intermissions. The Elenchuses are of immense resource value. The researcher can have a superb insight into the musical life of the Veszprém cathedral.

The musical scores collection was stored in the left tower room of the cathedral until the 1970’s in the cabinets made in 1852. Earlier the musical instruments were also stored here. The scores were transported to the National Széchényi Library in 1970 where they were professionally processed. After processing, the collection was brought back to Veszprém and placed in one of the warehouses of the Archiepiscopal Library in the building of the archiepiscopal palace. Since then the collection has been available for researchers.

Since 1999, Olga Andódyné Pál has completed the revision of the material and has made the thematic catalogue for the reference desk and the warehouse. New digital and card catalogues were also made for the registry and to assist the reference desk. The modernization and web-based publication of the digital catalogue is ongoing. The restoration of the cases of the scores will be finished by the OSZK–Soros Restoration Workshop this year.

To find the necessary financial funds, the library was helped by the National Cultural Fund and the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Michael Haydn: Graduale in festo S. Joannis Baptistae autograph manuscript is a treasured asset of the collection: You can listen to the piece by clicking here