Loading Library Hours...

Musicological Archives for Renaissance Manuscript Studies

Collection Information


Musicological Archives for Renaissance Manuscript Studies


Music and Performing Arts Library /  and School of Music 4006


The Archives were established in 1968 by Professors Charles Hamm and Herbert Kellman.  Herbert Kellman has been its director since 1975.

When acquired

Archives project began in 1968, and is ongoing.


The Musicological Archives for Renaissance Manuscript Studies in the School of Music constitute a unique and widely known research facility in the field of Renaissance music. The purpose of the Archives is to aid and stimulate research on the polyphonic music of the Renaissance (1400-1600), particularly research on the original manuscripts and printed sources containing that music. Such research is basic to the understanding of this repertory, and to the realization of modern editions, performances, and recordings.

The scope of the information assembled in the first two decades can be seen in the Census-Catalogue of Manuscript Sources of Polyphonic Music,1400-1550, 5 vols., vol.1 ed. Charles Hamm & Herbert Kellman, vols. 2-5 ed. Herbert Kellman. The fruit of the work in the Archives with the support of a ten-year NEH grant, the Census-Catalogue identifies and describes the 1,600 existing manuscripts of polyphony from this repertory’s central period of hand-copied transmission.

The Archives’ collection of microfilms is now one of the most complete of its kind. Housed in the Music and Performing Arts Library, it includes microfilms of:

  • virtually all 1,600 manuscripts described in the Census-Catalogue
  • many manuscripts of polyphony composed in the next period, 1550-1600
  • the majority of printed anthologies published 1500-1550
  • many of the single-composer prints published in the 16th century.

Additional research resources, including material produced since the appearance of the Census-Catalogue, are also housed in MPAL, and consist of:

  • Files for the 1,600 manuscripts in the Census-Catalogue, each file containing a detailed table of the manuscript’s contents (only a summary appears in the C-C), and unpublished research materials concerning significant aspects of the source itself or its contents
  • Various supporting index card files to aid in accessing titles in the collection

Musicological Archives for Renaissance Manuscript Studies maintains access to:

  • Digitized tables of contents of the 700 manuscripts, prints, and treatises containing one or more works by Josquin des Prez, with indexes of titles and composers of the 25,000 works in these sources
  • Digitized tables of contents of the 540 printed anthologies published between 1500 and 1550 listed in RISM B1 (ed.Lesure), with indexes of the publishers and places of publication of these, and of the titles and composers of the 13,000 works they contain
  • A comprehensive bibliography of scholarship on the sources of Renaissance music

Access/Finding Aids/Bibliography

Census-Catalogue of Manuscript Sources of Polyphonic Music,1400-1550, 5 vols., ed. Herbert Kellman (vol. 1 with Charles Hamm).  Stuttgart, 1979-88. (MPAL REF ML169.8 R36v1)

The five-volume Census-Catalogue of Manuscript Sources of Polyphonic Music consists of entries for the 1600 surviving manuscripts, listing composers and genres; physical details; scribes; owners; provenances and dates; and bibliography. It includes all microfilms in the Archives as well as all known extant Renaissance polyphony written between 1400-1550.

The resources of the Archives are available on-site to all scholars and students.  For further information, or other correspondence, contact:

Herbert Kellman
Professor Emeritus of Music and Medieval Studies
Director, Renaissance Archives
School of Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1114 West Nevada Street, Urbana, IL 61801
e-mail: kellman@illinois.edu
fax & phone: 217-367-8511

Index terms

Renaissance Music

See also:

The Polyphonic Office Hymn from 1400 to 1520: A Descriptive Inventory, Tom Ward. American Institute of Musicology, 1980. (MPAL REF ML169.8 R36v.3)

The Treasury of Petrus Alamire: Music and Art in Flemish Court Manuscripts 1500-1535, ed. Herbert Kellman. Ghent, 1999.  (MPAL ML170 T74)

The Contents of Anthologies of Printed Music, 1500-1550, edited by Howard M. Brown, completed by Herbert Kellman. Munich, forthcoming.

The Sources of the Works of Josquin des Prez, ed. Herbert Kellman. Vol. 1 of The New Josquin Edition, Utrecht, forthcoming.