Chapter 1

History of the collection


The main stem of BDS musicalia consists of manuscripts of benedictine nuns of Sandomierz. Miscellany contains material from other various regional centres as well. Numerous similarities appear between BDS and other Lower Poland collections. Therefore, it could be treated as a sample of music received and created in Lower Poland in the 18th century.


The musical collection of Diocesan Library in Sandomierz preserves manuscripts of many centres of the region as well as collegiates, cloisters and parishes in Sandomierz and Pilica. The story of the musical archives starts with benedictine nuns cloister. Basing on the oldest manuscripts in the collection, we can assume that cloister capella was functioning and collecting music as soon as 1700 [11]. After the dissolution of the monastery in 1903, the building of the abbey was annexed by the seminary in 1904. The seminary started currently working Diocesan Library, by joining seminarian archives (first collected in 1820) and benedictine’s collection. In 2007 BDS collection was enriched by the Library and Archives of Cathedral Chapter of Sandomierz and Diocesan Archives. The total amount of musical manuscripts in the BDS collection reaches almost 700. The collection was catalogued first shortly after II WW by priest Wendelin Świerczek and his signatures are still used in the online catalogue of Diocesan Library. In 2010, dr Alina Mądry with students of the Musicological Department at the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań catalogued the collection according to RISM standards [12]. Due to the fact that the vast majority of the works was digitized in only 2016, secondary sources regarding collection up to that year vary in displayed data regarding the exact amount of manuscripts, dating of the pieces and collection itself etc.


The basis and the main part of the current musical collection is the library and archives of benedictine nuns abbey.

The only ⅓ of the manuscripts have provenance notes, some of which are possible to relate to musical centres, basing on possessor's or copyists' names, inscriptions or handwriting. In many cases, we can only deduce manuscripts provenance. Oftentimes, it is not possible due to lacking a front page.

All instrumental music manuscripts with ascertained provenance belonged solely to benedictine nuns of Sandomierz. However, most of the instrumental music in the collection does not have any indications which can help with assigning their original source.


Genres we encounter in the collection are typical for the instrumental music of the second half of the 18th century. 

We also encounter large amounts of unidentified parts and fragments of the chamber and symphonic pieces. The collection contains several sinfonias/symphonias of chamber instrumentation, which I decided to include in my research.



When it comes to the chamber pieces genres we see popular instrumentation trends of the second half of the 18th century. Composers often use combinations of wood and brass wind instruments, like oboe and horn or clarinet, horn and bassoon, etc.




Except for deducing the dating of the piece from its possessor, composer, genre, instrumentation, or form, we do not have a lot of opportunities to pinpoint the exact date of the pieces.

Some of the manuscripts have a date written on the front page- most of the time it is the date of addition to the collection.




In total, on the front pages of Sandomierz manuscripts, we find 15 mentions of benedictine sisters (surnames, monograms, and names). All of them were somehow musically active, although in some cases it is not clear exactly how.




However Sandomierz nuns had collaborated with local composers, who were writing and dedicating pieces for them, such as Joseph Ruth or Kazimierz Boczkowski in the early 18th century, instrumental chamber music manuscripts, coming mostly from mid-to-late 18th-century display fewer names of the authors and if so, mostly foreign ones. This fact could indicate that nuns were in need of more famous and highly appraised chamber pieces since their performance was addressed to noble guests visiting the monastery and served a representative function. Music of acclaimed, well-known composers signified being up-to-date, close to aristocratic lifestyle, and, consequently- of high position in the social hierarchy.

Within instrumental chamber music in BDS musical archives we find names of both acclaimed and unknown composers. Some of them, such as Kajetan Hantuch or Schoefflin remain entirely obscure and no information about these composers can be found or deduced. We encounter here however very renowned names as well, such as Haydn or Graun. The appearance of Myslivecek, Pichl, and Ziegler shows close ties to Bohemian music. Local interdependencies appear as well- we find the wind chamber piece of late-galant, Cracovian composer Jakub Gołąbek. Works of Joseph Meck and Gaetano Pugnani show how central-European musical tracts influenced the BDS collection. I will elaborate on the aforementioned foreign and regional influences in the next chapters.