Le Médiéviste et l’ordinateur
Le Médiéviste et l’ordinateurHistoire médiévale, informatique et nouvelles technologies
n° 39 (Hiver 2000) : La musicologie médiévale et l’ordinateur

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Renaissance Archives : un riche fonds documentaire avant l'informatisation

Herbert Kellman

Prof. à l'université d'Urbana-Champaign (Illinois), UIUC


The Renaissance Archives in the School of Music of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are the world's premier research facility in the field of Renaissance music.

The Archives were established in 1968 by Professors Charles Hamm and Herbert Kellman, with the explicit purpose of aiding and stimulating research in the music of the Renaissance (1400-1600).Upon recommendation by the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Archives were authorized by the Board of Trustees, and received a budget for the employment each year of a research assistant. Ham and Kellman directed the Archives jointly until the former left UIUC in 1975. Kellman has been sole director since 1975.

The particular focus of the Archives has been to collect the materials and data essential for research concerning the original manuscript and printed sources of Renaissance music. Such research is basic to modem editions, performances, and recordings of this rich repertory, and is undertaken by dozens of scholars and performers world-wide, many of whom each year work in the Archives or are assisted by mail or telephone. Equally important is the Archives' program of compiling and publishing catalogues and monographs pertaining to these original sources. Some of these are mentioned below.

The Archives' collection is unique in the word. Its core consist of (a) files of the nearly 2 000 surviving Renaissance manuscript and printed musical sources for the periode 1400-1500, with up-to-date, unpublished information for every one of the 1 700 extant manuscripts ; and of that period (b) most importantly, a microfilm of every one of these 1 700 manuscripts. The Archives also have microfilms of the majority of the printed sources. Scholars and perfomers are thus able to study and compare manuscripts - side by side, so to speak - whose originals are as distant (and far apart) as Budapest and Cape Town, Seville and Guatemala City. This kind of study, which can reduce years of travel and research to mere months or weeks, is not possible anywhere else in the world.

The Archives have also seen the preparation of an NEH-sponsored, five-volume Census-Catalogue of Manuscript, Sources of Polyphonic Music, 1400-1550 (2 185 pages), volume I under the editorship of Hamm and Kellman, volumes II-V under the editorship of Kellman. It was published in the years 1979-88 (American Institute of Musicology-Hanssler Verlag, Stuttgart). Reviewers and scholars throughout the field acknowledge that this catalogue, the first of its kind, has altered the face of Renaissance studies in music. It is now the standard handbook in the field, is on the shelves of almost every research library in the world, and is cited in every study of Renaissance music involving manuscript sources.

From the first years on, the Archives were in correspondance with various scholars, supplying them with otherwise unobtainable information and receiving in return the results of recent research and copies of unpublished papers. Under Kellman's guidance, and with the growth of the Archives' collections and the appearance of the Census-Catalogue, this network expanded dramatically, such that the Archives are now at the center - indeed are the nexus - of worldwide Renaissance source research. Links have been established, via exchanges of research or via collaborations, with scholars in some seventy universities and colleges in North America, and in universities and research establishments in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Spain. The Archives are also affiliated with the International Inventory of Musical Source (RISM), a global organization for the cataloguing of all existing music up to 1900, supported by UNESCO and national governments, published under the auspices of the International Music Library Association and the international Musicological Society, and headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany ; the Archives belong to a consortium of research centers sponsored by the Alamire Foundation of the University of Leuven in Belgium ; and they are actively participating in the exchange program UIUC - Centre national de la recherche scientifique (France).

Further evidence of the centrality of the Archives within the field lies in the steady stream of scholars and students who in the last two decades have made research visits to the campus for periods ranging from two or three days to one year. On average, between ten and fifteen persons from outside UIUC have visited each year, most often for one or two weeks, coming not only from throughout the U.S., but from every other country listed above. A substantial number of these are doctoral students : the reputation of the Archives is now such that dissertation and project supervisors routinely advise their students to work in our facility.

Our own graduate students have carried out research in the Archives since the facility's inception, and some twenty UIUC Ph.D. dissertations have drawn a large part of their documentation from its resources. An equal number of dissertations from other American and foreign institutions are, likewise, to a large extent based on research in the Archives.

The Archives have a vigorous program of publication. They are the sponsors of a series of monographs (Renaissance Manuscript Studies : American Institute of Musicology, Hanssler Verlag, Stuttgart), in which the Census-Catalogue was the first publication, followed by three other major studies, through 1996. One of the most recent publications prepared in tile Archives is The Treasury of Petrus, Music and Art in Flemish Court Manuscripts 1500-1535, ed. Herbert Kellman (Ludion Press, Ghent & Amsterdam/distributed by The University of Chicago Press, 1999). Two works, also edited by Kellman, will be published this and next year : a two-volume catalogue concerning printed sources of Renaissance music for RISM co-sponsored by the Newberry Library, Chicago, will be sent to press momentarily ; and a three-volume catalogue of all sources of the music of Josquin des Prez (the leading Renaissance composer) is nearing completion, and will be published jointly by the Royal Musicological Society of the Netherlands and the American Musicological Society. Besides having provided information for hundreds of modern editions of individual compositions, the Archives are also the principal research base for four important multi-volume critical editions :

The Complete Works of Josquin des Prez (new Josquin Edition), headquartered in the Netherlands

The Complete Works of Pierre de la Rue, headquartered in Canada

The Complete Works of Jacobus Obrecht, headquartered in the Netherlands

The Complete Works of Thomas Crecquillon, headquartered in the United States

Much of the information held by the Archives has been entered on the computer, and will be, before long, available in an on-line database.


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