Foreign Printed MusicThe Library holds the strong collection of foreign printed music from palaeotypes to avant-gurde musical compositions. Systematic acquisition of foreign scores began in 1795, and has continued to the present day.
I. Printed music from the sixteenth century are represented by treatises on music theory, scores of sacred compositions, secular works by Orlande de Lassus, Luca Marenzio and their contemporaries. The earliest music publications, held by the Library, are dated 1518. These are practical and theoretical manuals for use in the liturgical choir.
II. The Library possesses a wide range of printed music from the seventeenth century. First of all, there are opera and ballet scores, issued mainly by the French music printing firm Ballard. Among them are numerous publications of works by Jean-Baptiste de Lully and his contemporaries.
III. The collection of printed music from the eighteenth century is primarily made up of the scores of the private royal library, founded by Catherine II, which was also known as the Hermitage collection, as well as the scores from the town palaces of Stroganov and Yusupov families and other private libraries.
Printed music from the eighteenth century held in the Library are not only of research interest. Many items came to be in great demand by modern performers. Among music of this kind is the score of the opera by Andre-Ernest-Modeste Gretry Peter the Great. In 2003, a performance of the opera was staged at the Helikon Opera in Moscow using the Russia's single score, housed in the Library.
Notable is the publication of an artictic and historical interest: Choix de chansons mises en musique par m. de La Borde… (Paris: Lormel, 1773). This is the set of songs by Jean-Benjamin de La Borde, dedicated to the young French Queen Marie Antoinette. The Deluxe Edition is illustratated with engravings by Jean-Michel Moreau (the chief artist of royal "menus plaisirs"). The book came in from the Imperial Hermitage collection, the most items of which are remarkable for their splendid bindings: morocco, moire, embroidery in silk etc. This publicationis bound in gold-tooled red morocco with the bookplate from the period of Empress Catherine II.
Among rare items is Handel's Sixty Overtures from All His Operas and Oratorios for the String Orchestra (London: D. Walsh, c. 1749) with a ceremonial portrait of the author on the frontispiece.
IV. Illustratated printed music, especially vocal music, enjoyed wide popularity in the nineteenth century. Fine illustrations often not only decorated the title-page but accompany every song in the book.
Sets of folk and popular songs Chants et chansons populaires de la France appeared in France repeatedly. The Library has Parisian issues for 1843 (Vol. 2,3) and 1848 (Vol. 1,2). Each song is prefaced by a detailed story about history of the song, its creation, and the topic. Thus, the song Le cafe is prefaced by a story about Parisian cafe and the beginnings of cafe in Europe. Illustrations, accompanying music and explanatory texts, are refined and witty.
In the Dusseldorf album of songs (Dusseldorf: Arnz & Co., 1851) each song is prefaced by a colour illustration, depicting a particular romantic subject. An illustration also includes an opening line of a song. The title of the album has been determined by the fact that artistic activities of its authors (composers, literary men, artists) are anyhow connected with Dusseldorf. Among the authors was Robert Schumann.
After the Revolution of 1917 the Library continued to purchase foreign music abroad and from private persons. Acquisition was ceased only during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) and then proceeded.
In the early 20s, the foreign music collection was enhanced with a number of valuable items. Noteworthy among them is the publication of a satirical song cycle by Richard Strauss and poems by Alfred Kerr The Shopkeeper's Mirror (Der Kramerspiegel, Op. 66) printed by Paul Cassirer in Berlin in 1921.
In the recent years, the most important acquisitions were scores issued by Italian music printing firms, including works of Italian composers for diverse historical periods and styles, the original texts of frequently performed compositions.
V. Printed music from the twentieth century. The comprehensive collection of modern and contemporary music includes material, covering a wide variety of musical tendencies, composer techniques and methods: starting with the traditional notation to diverse notation innovations, introduced into morden music by musical vanguardists of the second half of the twentieth century.