2nd November 2023

National Library of Lithuania archival document added to the UNESCO programme “World Memory” national register

The Kražiai Organist’s Notebook (1618), preserved in the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, has been recognised as a documentary heritage object of national importance.

It is one of the oldest surviving examples of instrumental music that belonged to the College of Kražiai or its church, the focal point of education and culture in Samogitia at that time. The manuscript was intended for, and undoubtedly used in, Catholic liturgy. It represents a collection of music by a 17th century organist. The first part of the book contains mainly theoretical references to the art of performance, music theory and ecclesiastical harmonies, as well as a large number of practical exercises and solutions to develop organ technique. The second part of the manuscript contains instrumental compositions of various natures and complexity, as well as musical fragments used as exercises.

The exact date of the manuscript is unknown. It is probably 1618, which appears several times in the document in question. The Kražiai organist’s notebook was in use and completed up to the end of the 17th century, which is confirmed by the inclusion of later dates (1681, 1689 and 1693), which are also found on the additional information sheets used for the handling, pasting and binding of the sheet music manuscript.

The manuscript is thought to have entered the National Library around 1940-1950 with the documents of the Seminary of Samogitian Priests.

The Kražiai Organist’s Notebook is the eleventh documentary heritage object of the National Library to enter the national register.

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