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Sacred Music to 1807

K. H. Biber: Missa St. Jakobi, ca. 1740 (photo: P. Rohrmoser, courtesy of AES)

At several stages within the more than thousand years of its existence, the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg’s court chapel achieved an outstanding reputation within Europe. Musicians that made their contribution to the development of Western art music, such as Paul Hofhaimer, Johann Stadlmayr, Tiburtius Massaini, Stefano Bernardi, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, Georg Muffat, Johann Ernst Eberlin, Leopold and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Michael Haydn, lived and worked in Salzburg and were – at different times − part of the Hofkapelle. Only two of these were born in Salzburg; the others came to the city from Bavaria, Italy, Savoy, Swabia, Bohemia, and Austria.

Leopold Mozart‘s Nachricht von dem gegenwärtigen Zustande der Musik Sr. Hochfürstlichen Gnaden des Erzbischoffs zu Salzburg im Jahre 1757, published in the same year in F. W. Marpurg’s Historisch-Kritischen Beyträgen zur Aufnahme der Musik in Berlin, bears witness to the high reputation of Salzburg as a European center of music.

Most of the above-mentioned musicians composed music for the city's cathedral as well as for the court. While a large part of the music composed for the court when the court dissolved in 1806/07, the sacred music has been preserved, having been kept safe in a room on the first floor of the cathedral since the time of its consecration (1628). Today this collection is stored in the air-conditioned depots of the newly erected Archiv der Erzdiözese Salzburg, which offers excellent conditions for preservation and use.

The collection of choir books from the first half of the 17th century was catalogued and commented upon by the project leader and published in 1992:

Katalog des liturgischen Buch- und Musikalienbestandes  am Dom zu Salzburg, Teil 1: Die gedruckten und handschriftlichen liturgischen Bücher, bearb. Von F. Wasner unter Mitarbeit von Stefan Engels und E. Hintermaier. Teil 2: Ernst Hintermaier: Die Musikhandschriften und Musikdrucke in Chorbuch-Notierung. (= Veröffentlichungen zur Salzburger Musikgeschichte. Bd. 3. , zugleich Band 1 der Schriftenreihe des Salzburger Konsistorialarchivs) Salzburg: Pustet, 1992.

The so called “Altbestand,” the part of the collection copied on sheets in the 18th century, is particularly interesting because in addition to authentic sources of the works of W. A. Mozart, L. Mozart, H. I. F. Biber and M. Haydn, many works of lesser-known Salzburg composers of the 18th century can be found. These sources were not available for research before being catalogued, although they are part and parcel for understanding the works of masters like Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph and Michael Haydn and putting them into the proper historical perspective.