Academic journal article Fontes Artis Musicae

National Music Collections in the Netherlands

Academic journal article Fontes Artis Musicae

National Music Collections in the Netherlands

Article excerpt

In The Netherlands, it is not the National Library in The Hague (known as the Koninklijke Bibliotheek or Royal Library) that comes to mind when music collections and the provision of services relating to music materials are considered. Many musicians and musicologists are familiar with the music departments of the national libraries in neighbouring countries such as France, Belgium, or the United Kingdom. In contrast to these institutions, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek has few music materials and no music department, and has not developed a specific national role for providing services in the field of music. Like many other countries, The Netherlands has a rich musical life, with many active music publishers and significant music collections. So why is the situation regarding the national music collection different in The Netherlands? In other words, why did the Koninklijke Bibliotheek not become the place for collecting music materials?

One important reason is probably the lack of legal deposit in The Netherlands. For books, a voluntary deposit arrangement has been in existence only since 1974, but printed music was not included. Another reason could be that when the Koninklijk Bibliotheek was founded in 1798, the library lacked important music collections and it never developed a policy to acquire music materials in a systematic way, be it manuscripts, printed music or--much later--audio-visual materials. Although the Royal Library does now hold collections of music manuscripts, historical songbooks, and some archival materials, we have to look at other institutions to find major music collections. Between 1985 and 2000 other organisations, such as Music Catalogue Netherlands (MCN), took responsibility for the voluntary deposit of printed music. Many music titles were added monthly to the National Bibliography but the closing down of MCN ended this active period of voluntary deposit. The voluntary deposit arrangement was later transferred to the Nederlands Muziek Instituut (NMI), but in the past years it has not been functioning: voluntary deposit demands a very active attitude toward publishers to ensure they continue sending new publications.

Music manuscripts, printed music, books, periodicals, audio-visual collections or any other music-related materials can be found in many libraries and institutions in The Netherlands. However the main collections are in a small number of institutions. Most researches and users will be familiar with these, since inventories and catalogues have been published over the years and nowadays collections are also accessible online. Best known nationally and internationally are the collections of the former music library and music archives of the Municipal Museum in The Hague. In 1999 both these collections and the collection of the foundation Musica Neerlandica merged into NMI. The NMI is responsible for preserving the Dutch musical heritage and for making its collections accessible for research, educational purposes and performance. It is also in charge of the legacies of Dutch composers, institutions and organisations from 1850 till today, as well as source material dating from 1500 to 1800.

The multiple tasks of the NMI as archive, documentation centre and library stem from the handing over of important private collections. This new institute found a home in the building of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague. De facto the NMI functions as the Music Department of the National Library but de jure the NMI is an independent institution, financed separately (both by the city of The Hague and by the Ministry of Culture) and is now recognized by the Ministry as a sector institute for musical heritage. Housing its music collections within the Koninklijke Bibliotheek is appropriate to its special role in preserving the written and printed Dutch cultural heritage and making this material accessible to professionals and amateurs alike.

Other important collections can be found in the libraries of Utrecht University and the University of Amsterdam. …

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