4th July 2023

First stage of cooperation between the National Széchényi Library and the Haydneum – Hungarian Early Music Centre

The digitisation centre of the Hungarian National Library, which has the largest and most modern equipment among the public collections of Central Europe, has been in operation for a year. In connection with the inauguration of the centre, the library and the Haydneum – Hungarian Early Music Centre have entered into a professional collaboration, which has now resulted in 20,054 digitised pages of music. On 25 May 2023, the two institutions held a press conference to announce the results of the collaboration so far and to report on the concerts that the public can enjoy thanks to the joint work. Judit Gerencsér, Deputy Director General of the NSZL, spoke about the successful collaboration.

Because of its enormous importance in music history, the two institutions were the first to start working in depth on the works of Gregor Joseph Werner (Ms. Mus. III.), which are part of the Esterházy Collection at the NSZL: 273 Werner volumes have now been processed. The work is supported by all the equipment needed to digitise all types of documents in the holdings of the NSZL. The digitisation process is preceded by a pre-selection and a condition assessment, which first of all examines the content and condition of the documents.

Digitisation is ongoing, and a recent important achievement is the completion of the digitization of the Ms. Mus. II. collection, consisting of 118 Michael Haydn volumes, bringing the total number of digitised pages to over 20,000, which was previously unthinkable. The staff of the national library and the collaborating partners have begun to digitise the Ms. Mus. IV, collection, the greatest part of the Esterházy Collection, which includes works by other authors.

A selection of 37 Werner volumes has now been made into modern scores, which will be performed by the Purcell Choir and Orfeo Orchestra conducted by György Vashegyi at the closing concert of the Haydneum Church Music Festival (9–17 June, University Church).

These are the first works to have been through all the stages of the process (cataloguing, digitisation, modern scoring, performance/recording), and the main mission of the collaboration between the two institutions seems to be realised: to bring back works to the public that have not been heard for centuries.

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