Friday, December 26, 2008

Music at Hungary's National Library

Over the Thanksgiving break, the Polley music librarian was fortunate to be able to visit libraries during her vacation in Budapest. The National Szechenyi Library has it's music collection in a combined music and theater department, the reading room of which is at the right.
My hostess for the visit was the sound archivist at the National Library. She first tempted me with some manuscripts from their collections. The have a fine collection of Haydn because of the Esterhazy connection -- Haydn worked for the Esterhazy's for nearly 30 years. Some of the Haydn materials will be traveling for the 200th anniversary of Haydn's death in May 2009.
I enjoyed looking at the Dohnanyi manuscript, but the one of most interest to me as a musician was the Bartok piano sonata. Bartok had performed from that manuscript and there were performance notations, scribbled measures to facilitate page turns and measures of music inserted in "bubbles".
The National Szechenyi Library has an active digitization program for their sound materials, including historic wax cylinders and other outdated formats. In the reading room, they have extensive playback facilities, making their sound collections accessible to their users.
I truly appreciated the opportunity to visit the National Library. Hungary has a long musical tradition and the library documents it well.

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