Monday, May 20, 2013

Choir Books, at the Biblioteca Nacional de España

Here's something interesting from a page at the National Library of Spain (Spanish language page here); a Chantblog reader just pointed it out to me:
Choir books

The collection of choir books belonging to the Biblioteca Nacional de España, which originated in large from the ecclesiastical confiscations of the 19th century, comprises almost one hundred liturgical books which came from a number of ecclesiastical centres and are now held in our library.

These lectern books provide key testimony to the tradition of Gregorian chant in Spain. It is very different from any other cathedral or monasterial a collection as its features are heterogeneous, both in terms of origin and format. This collection contains a wide codicological and melodic representation of the copious production of choir books over the centuries, which is of great interest both to musicologists and Gregorian experts and for philologists and scholars of ancient Spanish books.

All of this reveals the need to develop the current database to provide a solution and service to the various essential issues regarding cataloguing and research. On the one hand, it will enable the Library to achieve a more detailed level of bibliographic description, in accordance with the peculiarities of this repertoire. And on the other, this systematisation and standardisation of all the aspects of the lectern books (missals, graduals, antiphonal books, etc.) should become a benchmark for the Spanish-speaking world and any institution with this singular kind of bibliographic collection.

There are two links on the page:  one that gives Access to the database; the other links to The music and musicology collection.  I believe that "the ecclesiastical confiscations of the 19th century" is a reference to this event described at Wikipedia:
The Ecclesiastical Confiscations of MendizabalSpanishDesamortización Eclesiástica de Mendizábal, more often referred to simply as La Desamortización, encompasses a set of decrees from 1835–1837 that resulted in the expropriation, and privatisation, of monastic properties in Spain.

The legislation was promulgated by Juan Álvarez Mendizábal, who was briefly prime minister under Queen Isabel II of Spain. The aims of the legislation were varied. Some of its impulses were fostered by the anticlerical liberal factions engaged in a civil war with Carlist and other reactionary forces. The government wished to use the land to encourage the enterprises of small-land owning bourgeoisie, since much of the land was underused by languishing monastic orders. The government, which did not compensate the church for the properties, saw this as a source of income. Finally, wealthy noble and other families took advantage of the legislation to increase their holdings.

Ultimately, the desamortización led to the vacating of most of the ancient monasteries in Spain, which had been occupied by the various convent orders for centuries. Some of the expropriations were reversed in subsequent decades, as happened at Santo Domingo de Silos, but these re-establishments were relatively few. Some of the secularised monasteries are in a reasonably good state of preservation, for example theValldemossa Charterhouse, others are ruined, such as San Pedro de Arlanza.

Shades of Henry VIII; I didn't know about this.

The database, though, is very interesting.  Things are happening!

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