The choir books of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. A digitization project

When the Munich court artist Hans Mielich was commissioned by the Bavarian Duke Albrecht V in the mid-16th century to design two monumental codices of music, this endeavour involving years of painstaking work yielded a total work of art of breathtaking beauty.

These gems kept secret for a long time are preserved by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek bearing the classification mark Mus.ms. A and B and represent the high point of a type of music manuscript which was ubiquitous at the time of the duke, but has almost been forgotten in our time: the choir book. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek holds around 170 choir-book manuscripts. The majority of these monumental manuscripts goes back to the collections of the Bavarian dukes of the 16th and 17th centuries.

These holdings have been digitized and catalogued online in an elaborate project supported by the German Research Foundation between 2013 and 2016. Moreover, the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation funds the restoration and digitization of the two most important pieces, the Mielich codices, within the framework of a project still ongoing in 2016.

The short film shows what choir books are and how they have been restored, digitized and catalogued.

Film on the project
Animations of Mus.ms. B