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Jacobs School’s Italian musicology 'Ostiglia' research program enters second year

Nov. 8, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Musicology Department is pleased to announce that the second year of its international research program in the Italian city of Ostiglia, near Mantua, will take place in May 2013.

Presentation and Discussion at the Museo Internazionale della Musica, Bologna. From left to right: Molly Ryan, Prof. Massimo Ossi, Dr. Giuliano Di Bacco, Laura Dallman, Matthew Leone, and Karen Anton Stafford. Not pictured: Dr. Alfredo Vitolo, Music Librarian at the Museo, and Carolyn McClimon.

Print-Quality Photo

The program, Musical Collectorship in Italy in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: A Survey of the Greggiati Collection in Ostiglia and a Model of Electronic Research Tool, offers Jacobs graduate students an opportunity to work with an impressive collection of over 10,000 mostly eighteenth- and nineteenth-century musical manuscripts and prints housed in the Greggiati Library.

Along with the academic research, the project will culminate in a comprehensive website that offers visitors from around the world the ability to browse detailed information on the collection. In its final form, the digital tool will allow users to connect to rich information from a number of different sources.

Since its inception in 2011, the project has helped establish a fruitful partnership between the city of Ostiglia, the Department of Musicology, the Center for the History of Music Theory and Literature (CHMTL), the Jacobs School of Music, the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs.

The teaching component of the project involves the training of graduate musicology students in codicology and manuscript description. Five Jacobs School students -- Karen Anton, Laura Dallman, Matthew Leone, Carolyn McClimon and Molly Ryan -- travelled under the guidance of Professor Massimo Ossi to Ostiglia in May 2011 to learn about issues of cataloguing and the study of musical sources from a the library.

The course allowed the students to work with manuscripts not only as sources of music and theory, but also as material objects. Among the goals achieved during the first year included the creation of a flexible digital interface for data entry, a first evaluation of the data present in the Italian Sistema Bibliotecario Nazionale catalogue and the cataloguing of a first batch of ancient manuscripts.

The Jacobs School's Center for the History of Music Theory and Literature is currently working on the creation of an experimental digital platform for demonstrative purposes. The activity received a good deal of attention both in Italy and in the United States. Italian local media, including Mantuan television stations, covered the project.

The students also had the opportunity to visit a number of Italian cities and musical collections. Cities visited in 2012 included Bologna, Venice, Mantua and Verona. The group met Italian scholars such as Alfredo Vitolo, librarian of the Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica di Bologna, who presented his research on the collection of Padre Martini, the eighteenth-century erudite who mentored Mozart in counterpoint. During the visit to Mantua, they had the opportunity to play the sixteenth-century organ of Santa Barbara, one of the churches in Italy with an illustrious musical history.

Activities within the project are focused on Jacobs School musicology students, who receive preference in the enrollment. However, the project is open to other Jacobs School students with a strong interest in musical sources.

A presentation of next year's program will be held later in the semester at the Jacobs School of Music. Interested students should contact the Musicology Department at for more information about the application process.


Enjoy reading two summaries of the Ostiglia project by students who attended the 2012 summer project:

Laura Dallman

When I reflect on my trip to Ostiglia, no single thing stands out among the rest. The truth is that the trip held so many varied opportunities for learning that its value stretches beyond what a simple summary may offer. Nevertheless, I can say that it was amazing to be in an archive where materials were in the next room, able to be accessed in mere minutes.

Seeing and working with manuscripts first hand was invaluable; reading about someone else's archival experience is completely different from encountering, first hand, the complex issues that can accompany handwritten scores, collections of materials and the individuals who collect the materials. It was also stimulating to be working in the small community of Ostiglia. There was a certain amount of satisfaction and delight that came from interacting and socializing with people in town, as well as venturing into local places such as the market, post office or gelateria.

I hope that my experience is only the beginning. This project has the potential to offer much to both our department and Ostiglia, and I anticipate hearing about its progression and my colleagues' future adventures.

Carolyn McClimon

Though I am not a librarian and had no previous experience in cataloging, I was excited to approach the project with the unique perspective of a musicologist. The previously existing records in the Catalogo del Servizio Bibliotecario Nazionale, while of largely good quality, often omitted details that would be of great interest to a musicologist interested in the musical life of this region during the middle of the nineteenth century.

For instance, one manuscript bore a composer's name that had been completely scratched out and replaced with another, a significant detail completely omitted from the original record. Upon reading Greggiati's copious notes on the item, I discovered that the actual composer had initially written in the name of a significantly more popular composer on his score in the hopes that his work might actually be performed. I made it my mission throughout the project to keep my eyes open and include details like these in my records, which contribute to a snapshot of actual musical life in a minor metropolitan area at the time. In addition, I was made aware of those many composers who are completely off the canonical radar.