Alongside the coherent groups of holdings bearing the shelf marks ‘Mus[ica]’, comprised exclusively of sheet music and works on music theory, and ‘Mus. Hdschr.’, encompassing the manuscript holding ‘Musica-Handschriften’, the HAB also has an extensive collection of libretti. Other sheet music, works of music theory, liturgical works, song books, libretti, musical historiography, etc. can also be found in all the other groups of holdings.


Music manuscripts encompassing the entire history of European music from monophony to the pre-classical period can be found in the Helmstadienses, Augustei, Gudiani, Blankenburgenses and Novissimi manuscript groups. They include the Minden Gradual (1008 Helmst.), the two manuscripts ‘W1’ and ‘W2’ comprising the repertoire of early polyphony at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (628 Helmst. and 1099 Helmst.), the Wolfenbüttel Chansonnier (287 Extrav.), the choir book of William IV of Bavaria (A Aug. 2°), Philipp Hainhofer’s tablatures for lute (18.7–18.8 Aug. 2°), Jakob Ludwig’s book of scores (34.7 Aug. 2°) and the original version of Heinrich Schütz’s St. John Passion (1.11.1 Aug. 2°).

The ‘Musica-Handschriften’ also form a coherent group of music manuscripts exclusively from the modern period.

Listing: The music manuscripts that are not in the ‘Musica-Handschriften’ holding have been catalogued in depth as part of the project to gradually index and catalogue the Herzog August Bibliothek’s entire manuscript holdings (see manuscript database).

Emil Vogel, Die Handschriften nebst den älteren Druckwerken der Musik-Abtheilung der Herzogl. Bibliothek zu Wolfenbüttel, Die Handschriften der Herzoglichen Bibliothek zu Wolfenbüttel 8 (Wolfenbüttel, 1890).

Répertoire international des sources musicales: RISM-OPAC.


Printed music

The separate shelving of printed musical works is a construct of the 19th and 20th centuries. The music collection reflects the three main segments that make up the historic holdings of the Herzog August Bibliothek: the library of the university of Helmstedt (Helmstedter), the library of Herzog August der Jüngere von Braunschweig-Lüneburg (Augusteer) and the ‘Mittlere Aufstellung’ (Middle List) of the HAB. The works of Michael Praetorius and Heinrich Schütz occupy a central place here, together with a number of unique holdings of early 17th-century chamber music, song books with notated music, 16th- and 17th-century theoretical works and many tablatures.

In addition to these three main segments there are two smaller holdings: the first is the collection of sheet music from the Cantorey Sancti Stephani zu Helmstedt (‘Musica Steph[ani]’) acquired in 1960. This 17th-century religious music was played during services at St. Stephani, the university church. The second holding ‘Musica coll[ectoris] inc[erti]’ contains mainly 16th- and 17th-century works. Its origin is unclear.

As well as these items of printed music, the Herzog August Bibliothek also owns a collection of around 1,700 books on musical theatre, some of which are shelved separately (under the shelf mark ‘Textb.’), while the rest are distributed among the general holdings.

Listings: Musik: Alte Drucke bis etwa 1750, beschrieben von Wolfgang Schmieder, Mitarbeit von Gisela Hartwieg, Kataloge der Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel 12–13 (Frankfurt am Main, 1967).

Daniela Garbe, Das Musikalienrepertoire von St. Stephani zu Helmstedt: Ein Bestand an Drucken und Handschriften des 17. Jahrhunderts, Wolfenbütteler Arbeiten zur Barockforschung 33 (Wiesbaden, 1998).

Libretti: Verzeichnis der bis 1800 erschienenen Textbücher, zusammengestellt von Eberhard Thiel unter Mitarbeit von Gisela Rohr, Kataloge der Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel 14 (Frankfurt am Main, 1970).


Further literature on the collection

  • Limbeck, Sven, ‘Schichtung und Profil: Die Musiksammlung der Herzog August Bibliothek und ihre Provenienzen’, in Musiksammlungen in den Regionalbibliotheken Deutschlands, Österreichs und der Schweiz, ed. Ludger Syré, ZfBB Sonderband 116 (Frankfurt am Main, 2015), pp. 375–389.
  • Rode-Breymann, Susanne, and Sven Limbeck (eds.), Verklingend und ewig: Tausend Jahre Musikgedächtnis 800–1800 (Wolfenbüttel, 2011).