UNEARTHING CATALAN MUSICAL HERITAGE: THE IFMuC PROJECT

By Pessarrodona, Aurelia; Gregori, Josep Maria | Fontes Artis Musicae, October-December 2017 | Go to article overview

UNEARTHING CATALAN MUSICAL HERITAGE: THE IFMuC PROJECT


Pessarrodona, Aurelia, Gregori, Josep Maria, Fontes Artis Musicae


Introduction

Who knows anything about our art of music, about its character and about its tendencies? Who cares about scrutinising where we come from in order to know where we are going? Who deems it necessary to know something more about the text of an art, whatever we want, if the spirit which fecundates it is absolutely unknown? (1)

The above quote is the rhetorical manner in which Felip Pedrell (1841-1922), considered the "father" of modern Spanish musicology, laid out the need to rescue musical heritage at the beginning of the 'Proemi' in his Catalech de la Biblioteca Musical de la Diputacio de Barcelona (1908). This book was the first attempt, not only in Catalonia but also in all of Spain, at publishing a systematic catalogue of a public music archive, specifically the music collection of the bibliophile Joan Carreras Dagas (1828-1900). The collection was purchased by the Diputacio de Barcelona to become the main part of its music library, now the Music Section of the National Library of Catalonia.

Pedrell was entirely convinced of the necessity to know the music of a nation's past in order to enhance its modern-day musical production. This ideal, linked with the contemporaneous "Renegationism"--of interest for remedying Spain's decline, especially after the loss of its colonies in 1898--insists on the importance of preserving one's own cultural heritage, which coincides with further initiatives, for example, that reflected on the Web site of the General Direction of Cultural Heritage of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia, created in 1980: "Catalan society values and feels rooted in the heritage that conforms its cultural and historical legacy and its collective memory" (2).

Nevertheless, since Pedrell no scholar has attempted significant initiatives regarding a project designed to systematically document the musical richness conserved in Catalan archives. Catalonia was therefore one of the few European regions still unaware of the richness of its musical heritage in terms of the repertory of compositions by its chapel masters, organists, and musicians, which are conserved but forgotten in numerous, mainly ecclesiastic, archives, and has managed to survive the numerous wars that have blighted Spain in the past 500 years.

For this reason, at the beginning of the 2001-2002 academic year in the Department of Art and Musicology of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Autonomous University of Barcelona [UAB]), a group of researchers and students led by Professor Josep Maria Gregori i Cifre initiated a new line of research with the immediate priority of working to recover the collections of manuscripts that constitute the musical heritage of Catalonia. This initiative has continued to the present, becoming the IFMuC Project, an acronym of the Inventaris dels Fons Musicals de Catalunya (Inventories of the Catalan Musical Collections), and has launched the production and publication, in printed form, of inventories and the creation of a digital database. Under the direction of Josep Maria Gregori, other researchers in the group--all from the same University--have been professors Jordi Rife (in the first period), Bernat Cabre and Aurelia Pessarrodona, and the graduate student Carles Badal, with major input from the invaluable efforts and support of the students pursuing a degree in musicology.

From a systematic point of view, the IFMuC's mission is guided by the desire to uncover and share the results of a promising project, one that is rich for researchers, performers of ancient and classical music in general, and pedagogues. The project also benefits society as a whole, which now more than ever is seeking to rediscover its roots and, with them, its musical past.

This article presents the IFMuC Project in an international forum in order to demonstrate its value beyond Catalonia. It will be a useful source for researchers and musicians outside of Catalonia, not only to make Catalan musical heritage known, but also as a tool for more in-depth study of the movement of music and musicians across countries. …

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