Vol. 5 No. 2 (2014): Speciale "Faster, Smarter, Richer: Reshaping the library Catalogue" 2014

Enlightening music: the catalogue and digitisation project of Verdi's archive at the “Archivio Storico Ricordi” in Milan

Published 2014-05-26


  • music,
  • digitisation

How to Cite

Balbi, Mathias, and Alberto Abis. 2014. “Enlightening Music: The Catalogue and Digitisation Project of Verdi’s Archive at the ‘Archivio Storico Ricordi’ in Milan”. JLIS.It 5 (2):137-45. https://doi.org/10.4403/jlis.it-10064.


Our contribution concentrates on the processes of cataloguing and digitising of hand–written letters and business documents belonging to the ''Ricordi Historical Archive'' in Milan, which is at present housed in the Braidense National Library; the archive possesses documents referring to the history of the publishing company covering the two centuries of its activities.

Starting from the ledgers compiled by Giovanni Ricordi, which cover a period from 1814 up to the middle of the 19th century to the documents relative to the school of engraving, the archive also houses a large number of editorial catalogues, published by Ricordi and by other publishing houses which it took over, as well as the original contracts stipulated with composers and librettists from Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini to Arrigo Boito. The collection of about 15,000 hand–written letters covers the period from the beginning of the 19th century to the end of the 20th century and includes documents sent to Ricordi from writers, singers authors, and composers such as Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini and Ottorino Respighi and librettists Luigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa and Arrigo Boito. The second part of the correspondence is made up letter–books and business correspondence which were kept intact from 1888 to 1962, except for the period from 1944 to 1953. Since 2006, work has been carried out to catalogue and digitise the Ricordi Archive based on the standards set out by the National Library Service (Servizio Bibliotecario Nazionale – SBN) which is head of the Central Institute for the Single Catalogue (ICCU). The structure and use of the archive and the external transmission of its contents are safeguarded and enhanced thanks to the combined work of cataloguing and digitisation of this heritage: the preliminary cataloguing of the documents uses a simplified model of the scheme adopted in the description of the manuscript according to sw Manus, elaborated by ICCU: the detailed cataloguing uses seven main fields (identifier, creator, publisher, subject, description, contributor, date) followed by six fields relative to the material details of the document (type, format, language, relation, library, shelfmark); digitisation is done after cataloguing of the pieces: in this brief contribution we will show the production phases (Shooting mode, electronic formats of the digital articles, identification of images) and post–production (Indexing and editing of metadata mag) of the digitised files.


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