History of the Music Library

With the founding of the History of Music Section (officially inaugurated on 14 November 1960; preparatory work, beginning in 1958, was carried out by Paul Kast to open a musicology research centre), the German Historical Institute in Rome launched the establishment of a specialist musicology library. Having started with an initial collection of around 700 volumes (on permanent loan from the Bibliotheca Hertziana), today the Music Library contains over 63,000 documentary works.

Following Helmut Hucke's short but fruitful period as director (1962-1964), on 30 June 1964 Friedrich Lippmann took over the management of the History of Music Section and the Music Library. He held the position for 32 years, until 1996, a period in which the library became an important point of reference for German and Italy musicology and musical worlds.

Markus Engelhardt, director of the Section and library from 1997 onwards, further expanded the collections and technical equipment with a view to creating a reference point for musicology research at an international level. In 2017, the German Historical Institute in Rome libraries were merged together into a single organisational unit, currently managed by Patricia Kern. The library's online catalogue has been entered into the Urbis Library Network of foreign research institutes in Rome, and has been incorporated in the Südwestdeutscher Verbund (SWB) since 2017. The goal is to further strengthen the library's role as a modern and innovative centre for research on the international scientific and library scene. 

Since its foundation, the continual expansion of the Music Library has been possible not only thanks to the purchase of modern musical editions and ongoing research literature (journals, monographs, reference works, scores, sheet music, librettos etc.), but also in a significant way through the acquisition of antique collections and donations. In 1979, for example, it became possible to obtain a precious collection of Venetian librettos from the XVII and XVIII centuries, belonging to the Italian musicologist Remo Giazotto, while more recently, numerous musical manuscripts and rare prints from the Giancarlo Rostirolla collection have been added to the library's holdings.

To a large extent, the music library collections also reflect scientific work carried out by collaborators and fellows of the German Historical Institute in Rome, whose research materials, including music resources, are as a rule incorporated into the library collection. Numerous external scholars not only donate their publications, but also their study materials, therefore the library presents a varying framework of musicology research carried out over the last 60 years on the Italian-German scene.