IFMuC project for the recovery of Musical Heritage in Catalonia

1. The road to the recovery of musical heritage

Catalonia was quick to embrace the same retrospective view of music that was adopted in Central European countries in the mid-19th century through the creation of musicology at German universities. The earliest initiatives were focused on the identification and study of folk songs (through the search for materials originating from oral tradition), as well as the first studies and publications of the musical repertory conserved in archives and libraries, all of which were essential for the restitution of our country’s musical history.

When Felip Pedrell (1841-1922) said in 1894 that “old Spanish music, which is so unfortunately un-cherished for the simple reason that it is not known, holds many surprises in store for us”,1 as well as expressing his awareness of the general lack of knowledge, in the late 19th century, of the repertories of the old chapel masters and organists, he was also revealing his impassioned dedication to the recovery of Hispanic musical heritage. He made this clear in his essays Los músicos españoles antiguos y modernos en sus libros o escritos sobre la música2 prior to the publication of his manifesto Por nuestra música.3 Pedrell, like Baltasar Saldoni,4 was the one of the earliest Catalan musicologists to appreciate the need to produce a biographical dictionary for the Iberian Peninsula.5 His desire to recover the repertory led him to publish the anthology Hispaniæ Schola Musica Sacra,6 the Opera Omnia by Tomás Luis de Victoria,7 and the Cancionero Musical Popular Español.8

Pedrell’s mission was passed on to his disciples, primarily Higini Anglès, and influenced a flagship institution in our country from the late 19th century: the Orfeó Català (‘Catalan Choral Society’) founded by Lluís Millet and Amadeu Vices in 1891. This institution played a decisive role in the recovery of the nation’s musical repertory by publishing the Revista Musical Catalana (1904-1936)9 and initiating the Obra del Cançoner Popular de Catalunya in 1922, thanks to the Concepció Rabell i Civils Foundation, created by the benefactor Rafael Patxot i Jubert. This initiative was to be the starting point for the recovery of folk and traditional songs.10

The first two decades of the 20th century brought about major institutional activities with regard to heritage. In times of the Mancomunitat de Catalunya (‘Commonwealth of Catalonia’) and with the involvement of such figures as Enric Prat de la Riba, Joan Pijoan and Josep Puig i Cadafalch, three institutions were founded with the explicit objective of contributing to the conservation of heritage: the Junta de Museus de Barcelona (‘Museum Union of Barcelona’, 1906), the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (‘Institute of Catalan Studies’, 1907) and the Biblioteca de Catalunya (‘Library of Catalonia’, 1911).

The Junta de Museus (the depository for the important musical library purchased from Joan Carreras i Dagas) entrusted the cataloguing of its collection to Felip Pedrell, who completed the task by publishing two volumes of the catalogue in 1908-1909.11 When a Music Section was created at the Biblioteca de Catalunya in 1917, Pedrell was offered the position of curator, but he turned it down and it was given instead to his disciple Higini Anglès (1888-1969). Anglès’ presence did a lot to raise awareness of the need to recover heritage thanks to such major projects as the recovery of the works of Mateu Fletxa the Old, Joan Brudieu, Joan Pujol and Joan Baptista Cabanilles, as well as historical studies, such as the essential La música a Catalunya fins al s. XIII.12

The Music Section of the Biblioteca de Catalunya received a new boost with the presence of the library Joan Crespí (from 1983 to 2005) and Maria Rosa Montalt (2005).13 The CSIC’s Instituto Español de Musicologia (‘Spanish Institute of Musicology’) was created in Barcelona in 1943, led by the same H. Anglès with the support of an excellent team of collaborators.14 The Anuario Musical magazine was created in 1946, and work began on publishing the works of the maestros of Hispanic Renaissance tradition.15 The Instituto Español de Musicología would later be managed by Miquel Querol (from 1969 to 1982), who initiated the study of Hispanic baroque, Josep Maria Llorens (from 1982 to 1988), José Vicente González Valle (from 1988 to 2001) and Antonio Ezquerro (since 2001), and it currently enjoys the services of researchers Mariano Lambea, Maria Gembero and Emili Ros-Fàbregas.

This brief history of our heritage should also mention the Museu de la Música (‘Museum of Music’), inaugurated in 1946 under the management of Josep Ricart i Matas (1893-1978), the essential body in terms of the preservation and study of organ music. Manuel Valls, Ricart’s successor, moved the Museum from the penthouse of the Conservatorio Superior de Música (‘Higher Conservatory of Music’) to the old Baró de Quadras mansion in the Eixample district of Barcelona. In 1983, Romà Escalas took over as manager, and set up a team of professional experts, who published the museum’s catalogue in 1991. In 2007, the museum was moved to the Auditori de Barcelona, where the presentation of its collection of musical instruments and documents was renovated.

This brief overview should also give a special mention to Montserrat Monastery and the restoration work of Father Joan Baptista Guzmán (1846-1909), who published the works of Joan Baptista Comes in Madrid in 1888. The foundational impulse began anew in 1930 thanks to Father David Pujol (1894-1979) and the Mestres de l’Escolania de Montserrat series, which was later continued by Fathers Gregori Estrada, Ireneu Segarra and Daniel Codina. Their publishing work was accompanied by the recording of a significant amount of the repertory, which established a new method for the dissemination of Catalan musical heritage.

In 1983, the Catalan Government created the Centre de Documentació Musical de Catalunya (‘Music Documentation Centre of Catalonia’) in the Tarongers gardens, the former residence of benefactor Josep Bartomeu i Granell. The centre housed the musical collections of E. Granados, E. Morera, the Lamote de Grignon brothers, and many others. When it was closed, its collections were transferred to the Biblioteca Nacional de Catalunya in 2005.

From 1984 to 1991, the team formed by María Ester-Sala and Josep M. Vilar, both educated at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, made a laudable effort to promote the status of Catalonia’s musical archives, as evidenced by numerous publications.16


2. The IFMuC project at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

2. 1. Motivations and process

Catalonia is one of the few European countries that still does not know the richness of its musical heritage with respect to the repertory of compositions by its chapel masters, organists and musicians, which are conserved but forgotten in numerous, mainly ecclesiastic, archives. However, this still unknown richness has managed to survive the numerous wars that have blighted our country in recent centuries.

From the publication by Felip Pedrell in 1908 of the Catàlech de la Biblioteca Musical de la Diputació de Barcelona (the current Biblioteca Nacional de Catalunya), until the publication in 2007 of the first volume in the Inventaris dels Fons musicals de Catalunya series dedicated to cataloguing the musical collection at the cathedral-basilica of Terrassa (TerC), there has not been a single institution or a single researcher that has been willing to take on the task of setting up a nationwide project designed to systematically recover the musical richness conserved in Catalan archives.

That is why, in the Department of Art and Musicology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona at the beginning of the 2001-2002 academic year, we decided to initiate a new line of research with the immediate priority of working to recover the collections of musical manuscripts that constitute the musical heritage of Catalonia, through the production and publication, in printed form, of their respective catalographic inventories. After twelve academic years, we can now say, in the light of the results published in recent years, that we have performed this work with enthusiasm and with the will to serve not just the country, but also the international scientific and artistic community.17

From 2001 to 2015, we have registered almost 200 collections of manuscripts containing unknown works by Catalan composers, and we have got to know a small percentage of the musical richness that is stored in the historical collections of our cathedrals, basilicas and parish churches. Of the collections housed in public, ecclesiastic and private archives, 14 have been catalogued, with a index of search thousands composers and more than ten thousand works.

Between 2007 and 2015 we completed the inventory-catalogues of 14 musical collections, thanks to the help of three research projects by the Micinn (2003-2006, 2007-2010, 2011-2014) and initial sponsorship from the Catalan Government’s General Sub-Directorate for Heritage, thereby publishing and co-publishing of the first volumes of the collection Inventaris de Fons Musicals de Catalunya:



2.2. Objectives and benefits

In the context of the management of European musical heritage there has, for several years, been an increasing interest in the creation of databases in order to provide access to descriptive information about the collections of musical manuscripts conserved in archives and libraries. The aim of the IFMuC project is to make digital libraries of collections of musical manuscripts in order to make it as easy of possible for the public to be able to access these major volumes of knowledge.

Within the field of Catalan musical heritage, there are large volumes of scores conserved in manuscript form in numerous archives, and which are often very hard to access. Hence the urgent need to construct this digital platform in order to facilitate free access, in the first phase, to catalographic records of the collections of “authored works”, “anonymous works”, “choral books” and “printed scores” and, in the second phase, to the digitalised repertory.

The IFMuC’s expectations were fulfilled by the immense musical richness generated in the past, and that had been conserved in archives, museums, libraries and musical documentation centres, being systematically returned to today’s society. The project has generated benefits in many different areas:


  • Scientific: through the promotion by the national and international scientific community of new research studies (masters projects and PhD theses) on authors, repertories, styles and epochs from the history of Catalan music that were unknown until now.

  • Artistic: through access by national and international performers to catalographic records of these repertories and materials that were unknown until now and the free access that they will have to digitalised manuscripts in the future.

  • Social: all of national and international society will benefit from the dissemination of these repertories by musical performers and managers through their concert schedules and discographic recordings.

  • Educational: teaching of music history will be able to include in its curricula the discovery of ancient repertoires that were unknown until now.


The IFMuC’s mission is guided by the desire to restore a systemic indebtedness, an indebtedness that we view as a duty, and not just a scientific one, but also a moral and humanistic one: working to disclose the rich results of such a promising project as this one, not just for researchers, performers of ancient and classical music in general and pedagogues, but also for today’s society as a whole, which now more than ever is seeking to rediscover its roots and, with them, its musical past.


Josep Maria Gregori i Cifré
Professor of Musical Heritage at the UAB
Director of the IFMuC project

[1] Hispaniæ Schola Musica Sacra, III (1894), p. xlvi.

[2] Loose sheets from the magazine La Ilustración Musical Hispano-Americana (Barcelona, 1888-1896). Only the first 128 pages were published, 1888.

[3] Por Nuestra Música. Barcelona: Printed by Henrich y Cª, 1891.

[4] Diccionario biográfico-bibliográfico de efemérides de músicos españoles. Madrid: Printed by A. Pérez Dubrull, 1868-1881, 4 vols.

[5] Diccionario biográfico y bibliográfico de músicos y escritores de música españoles, portugueses é hispanoamericanos antiguos y modernos, acopio de datos y documentos para servir á la Historia del arte musical en nuestra nación. Barcelona: Typeset by V. Bergós y Feliu, 1897. Contains letters A-G.

[6] Barcelona: Juan Bta. Pujol y Cª, 1894-1897. The 8 volumes contain music by A. de Cabezón, R. de Ceballos. C. de Morales, F. Guerrero, J. Ginés Pérez, T. de Santa Maria, T. L. de Victoria.

[7] Tomæ Ludovici Victoria /Abulensis/ Opera Omnia, /ornata a Philippo Pedrell. Ed. Breitkopf und Härtel. Leipzig, 1902-1913.

[8] Valls: Printed by E. Castells, 1918-1922, 4 vols.

[9] F. Pedrell published the Músichs Vells de la terra series in it between 1904 and 1910.

[10] The collection of materials consisted of over 40,000 documents in 1936. Prominent collaborators included Joan Amades, Higini Anglès, Josep Barberà, Pere Bohigas, Palmira Jacquetti, Joan LLongueras, Francesc Pujol, Joan Puntí, Joan Sala, Baltasar Samper and Joan Tomàs.

[11] The commission foresaw the writing of the “Catàleg monumental il·lustrat, amb comentaris crítics i il·lustracions musicals”. Cf. PEDRELL, Felip. Catàlech de la Biblioteca Musical de la Diputació de Barcelona. Barcelona, 1908, vol I, p 9-15.

[12] Barcelona: Institut d’Estudis Catalans – Biblioteca de Catalunya, 1935.

[13] MONTALT, Maria Rosa. “Cent anys de patrimoni musical a la Biblioteca de Catalunya, 1908-2008”, 2n Congrés Internacional de Música. Barcelona: Consell Català de la Música, 2013, p. 626-631.

[14] These included Miquel Querol, Josep Romeu, Francesc Baldelló, Marius Schneider, Santiago Kastner, Joan Tomàs, Emili Pujol, P. José Antonio Donostia and Josep Subirà.

[15] Such as the Cancionero Musical de Palacio and the Opera Omnia by Morales, Guerrero and Victoria, and the studies of vihuela players Luys de Narvàez and Alonso Mudarra.

[16] ESTER-SALA, Maria – VILAR, Josep M. “Una aproximació als fons de manuscrits musicals a Catalunya”, Anuario Musical, 42 (1987) and 44 (1989); “Els fons musicals de Catalunya: un patrimoni a revalorar”, Lligall, 5 (1992).

[17] For a description of this process see the articles by GREGORI I CIFRÉ, Josep Maria. “La catalogació dels arxius musicals de Catalunya, una de les línies de recerca de l’IDIM de la UAB”, I Congrés de Música a Catalunya. Barcelona: Consell Català de la Música, 1994, p. 863-865; “El inventario de los fondos musicales eclesiásticos de Catalunya, un proyecto en marcha desde la Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona”, Memoria Ecclesiae, XXXI (2008), 483-497; “Els Inventaris dels Fons Musicals de Catalunya, el projecte de la UAB per a la recuperació del patrimoni musical”, 2n Congrés Internacional de Música. Barcelona: Consell Català de la Música, 2013, p. 621-625; “Fondos Musicales en Catalunya: el proyecto IFMuC de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona para la recuperación del patrimonio musical catalán”, in M. NAGORE and V. SÁNCHEZ (eds.) Allegro cum laude. Estudios musicológicos en homenaje a Emilio Casares. Madrid: Instituto Complutense de Ciencias Musicales, 2014, p. 127-134.

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