Cataloguing, digitization and online presentation of the historical archive of the music publishing house Schott

FundingGerman Research Foundation (DFG)  (cataloguing and digitization)
Culture Foundation of the German Länder, Berlin  (acquisition)
Carl Friedrich von Siemens Foundation, Munich  (acquisition)
Project termFirst project phase:
01/07/2017 – 30/05/2020
Second project phase:
16/03/2022 – 30/04/2025
Project partnersBerlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage  (Schott portal)
Further partner institutions in the acquisition:
Academy of Arts, Berlin
Beethoven House, Bonn
Fondation Hindemith, Blonay
Carl-Orff Foundation, Dießen
Max Reger Institute/ Elsa Reger Foundation, Karlsruhe
University Library Johann Christian Senckenberg, Frankfurt am Main
Contact addressesOffice heads and contact persons:
Dr. Reiner Nägele  (Project Manager)
Dr. Claudia Fabian
Dr. Maximilian Schreiber
Dr. Sabine Kurth  (Project Coordinator)

The historical archive of the music publishing house B. Schott's Söhne, seated in Mainz, is considered unique in view of the volume and comprehensiveness of the company's archive. It was entered in the German register of archives of national value (Länderverzeichnis national wertvoller Archive) in 2004. The particular importance of this archive is based on both its very comprehensive safekeeping of the printed sheet music and its sources published by Schott since the late 18th century (starting around 1770) up to around 1945, and the comprehensive archiving of the company's business records (as of 1787), and in addition the large volume of preserved historical company correspondence as of 1816, which together form the publishing house's archive.
A total of eight research institutions and libraries each acquired parts of the overall archive on individual outstanding composers, in line with their individual areas of collection emphasis. Two of these institutions, the Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage (SBB) and the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB), in contrast acquired almost closed, very voluminous segments of the publishing house's archive. A description of the Schott holdings and the project contents at the Berlin State Library can be found on the webpage of the library's music department with the Mendelssohn archive.

Description of the Schott holdings and project contents of the Berlin State Library

In order to permit a homogeneous cataloguing and virtual synopsis of the spatially separate holdings in one, comprehensive "Schott portal", the Berlin State Library and the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek jointly submitted to the German Research Foundation a funding request to be able to catalogue and digitize the acquired holdings and develop a portal. The request was granted in December 2016. The "Schott-Archiv digital" portal was launched in 2022 under the address For legal reasons, but also due to their state of conservation, certain segments of the publishing house's archive can be merely registered or catalogued, but not digitized. The following summary gives an overview of the archive segments acquired by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, the locations of the materials at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and the associated work projects.

1. Sheet music archives of the Department of Music of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

  • Production archive
    The production archive contains the musical sources which served as production material for the Schott editions with the imprint "B. Schott's Söhne". The sources are archived in the ascending numerical order of the publishing house numbers (Verlagsnummern, VN). It includes the music manuscripts, engraved copies and sheet music prints required for the production process of over 41,000 Schott editions from the time of foundation of the publishing house up to around 1945 (VN 1 to 37,050), in individual cases also up to the second half of the 20th century. The production archive contains a total of around 80,000 sources, consisting of around 60,000 sheet music prints and around 20,000 music manuscripts, as well as accidental materials, such as notes concerning the engraving process, appended text copies or translations of texts for vocal works, etc.
    It is planned to make the entire archive searchable online (call number: Mus.Schott.Ha [numerus currens]) and digitize it for the most part as of July 2017.
    Schott archive: Production archive  (in the Digital Collections)
  • Archive of first editions
    The archive of first editions offers content that complements the production archive: It contains one fully intact printed specimen each, untouched except for a stamp and a number entry, of the publishing house's imprint "B. Schott's Söhne, Mainz". In total, it comprises a segment of around 4,800 works of the time from around 1925 to 1946/ 50, which are classified in the ascending order of the publishing house numbers. The collection is protected by copyright almost in its entirety and will therefore be catalogued online for the time being. The individual specimens can be searched and ordered in the online catalogue BSB DISCOVER!, bearing the call number Mus.Schott.Ea [numerus currens].
  • Old Schott archive
    This archive, which is also referred to as "historical archive", is a separate background library of the Schott publishing house for sources and works without a concrete intention to publish. It contains around 4,000 individual works in the form of music manuscripts, external printed editions, of which there are partly several copies, text books, book publications and documentary material, thus covering the epoch from the 18th to the end of the 20th century. Since 2022, the holdings have been made searchable in the online catalogue of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, and the music manuscripts additionally in the database of RISM.
  • Parts of the vault archive
    The "vault archive" contains particularly valuable letters and music autographs which were relocated by the Schott publishing house from the other parts of the archives for security reasons as of around 1990. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek received 95 music autographs from this archive, of the composers Joseph Haas (1879 – 1960), Werner Egk (1901 – 1983) and Karl Amadeus Hartmann (1905 – 1963).

2. Business archive in the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

The business archive contains the business records and correspondence of the years 1816 to 1945 which are relevant for the work of the Mainz publishing house between 1787 and 1990. It is subdivided into the following areas:

  • 40 books of printed and engraved works
    The historical collection of books of printed and engraved works, starting with the "Journal 1788 – 1808" and the "Hauptbuch No. 1 1787 – 1808/ 09" (main record), as well as four books of printed works, containing the publishing house numbers (VN) in the ascending order of 1 – 2,599, constitutes the earliest stratum of the business archive. In addition, there are 34 books of printed works registering the publishing house numbers VN 1 to 47,943 (around 1990). These books are the most important tools for identifying and dating the Schott editions of sheet music. They will be digitized and indexed by internal hyperlinks in their entirety.
  • Further business records
    In addition, there exist 14 registers of the publisher's publications written on index cards, which record the Schott publications from the publishing house number 2,600 (around 1827) to 38,004 (around 1951). The archive also contains 22 individual books of business records, predominantly from the 19th century: "Leipziger Kontokorrent" account books, "Hauptbücher" (main business records), "Arbeitsbücher" (books of works in progress), stock records for paper, trade fair directories, inventories, books of production costs, cash journals and a "Korrekturenbuch" (book of corrections).
  • 51 "Kopiebücher"
    These "Kopiebücher", books of copies, contain carbon copies of the business letters dispatched by the publishing house during the years 1890 to 1909.
  • Business correspondence
    A total of around 850,000 individual letters to the publishing house Schott/ Mainz of the time between 1816 and 1945 have been conserved. The letters of the time between 1816 and 1909 will be put into a chronological and alphabetical order and evaluated by means of Excel lists. They will be entered in the database of personal papers Kalliope and in the B3Kat.
  • Vault archive (correspondence)
    The "vault archive" contains particularly valuable letters and music autographs which were relocated by the Schott publishing house from the other parts of the archives for security reasons as of around 1990. From the field of correspondence, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek received around 1,000 letters of the composers Joseph Haas (1879 – 1960), Werner Egk (1901 – 1983) and Karl Amadeus Hartmann (1905 – 1963).