The project music dates from about 1700 to 1780. It comprise approx. 1,400 manuscripts and 95 music prints. These are primarily scores, while a tenth of the music manuscripts are parts. The major part of the music are now kept in SLUB. Furthermore, it has also been possible to identify 150 manuscripts stored in other libraries both in Germany and abroad. There are several gaps to be found in the collections identified on the basis of historical inventories, particularly due to the losses incurred and relocations carried out during the Second World War.
The project music are divided into two collections, each containing approx. 750 manuscripts, differing from each other in their substantive focuses and their collection history: the basis of the Royal Private Music Collection and the collections of musical scores of the Dresden Catholic Court Church.
The Royal Private Music Sheet Collection (KPMS)
The KPMS collection researched in the project primarily consists of the individual collections of the Elector Friedrich August II, his wife Maria Josepha and his daughter-in-law Maria Antonia Walpurgis. These collections, which even in their lifetimes were documented in special catalogues, particularly reflect the musical taste of their artistically appreciative owners.
In contrast to August the Strong, whose musical interests were oriented to French music, his son, Friedrich August II (1696 - 1763), nourished a pronounced fondness for Italian music. Even as a young crown prince, he drew the Venetian composer Antonio Lotti to the Dresden court, where his works included the "Teofane" festival opera, composed for the occasion of the wedding of Friedrich August and Maria Josepha. Following the death of August the Strong in 1733, Friedrich August (now August III) finally brought Johann Adolph Hasse as the First Kapellmeister to Dresden, where he created numerous works for the Saxon-Polish court up to 1763.
In 1719, the Habsburg Archduchess Maria Josepha (1699 - 1757), the daughter of Emperor Joseph I, came to Dresden, bringing with her a series of musical scores from the Imperial court in Vienna. However, the voice parts of the Mass in B minor, dedicated by Johann Sebastian Bach to August III, are also to be found listed in the fragmentary catalogue of her collection.
Maria Antonia Walpurgis (1724 - 1780), who was the daughter of Emperor Karl VII and sister of the reigning Elector Maximilian III, Joseph von Bayern and who, in 1747, married the Elector Prince Friedrich Christian, was a particularly dedicated patron and collector of music. The Wittelsbach Princess, trained as a singer and composer, brought an extensive collection containing arias of the latest contemporary opera productions with her as part of her "dowry". She continued to expand this collection to the end of her life, adding important scores such as operas and oratorios by Johann Adolph Hasse and Christoph Willibald Gluck as well as works by the younger Dresden generation of composers, including Johann Gottlieb Naumann and Johann Georg Schürer.
In 1896, the Royal Private Music Collection, which – in addition to secular and sacred vocal works – also includes instrumental music, was absorbed into the Royal Public Library, the most important predecessor institution of SLUB.
The collections of musical scores of the Catholic Court Church
With the conversion of August the Strong to Catholicism in 1697, the desideratum emerged of a new Catholic church music repertoire for the Dresden court. Following an initial phase of tentative probing, from 1721 church music performances for the purpose of worshipping gained in regularity, arguably primarily attributable to the influence of the Habsburg Maria Josepha. There followed the development of a diverse repertoire of genres and styles for all ordinary and extraordinary church services of the Catholic church year that were maintained in Dresden.
The autographic works handed down of the court musicians responsible for church music, Jan Dismas Zelenka and Johann David Heinichen, form a significant part of the collection. Zelenka and Heinichen as well as the "church composer" Giovanni Alberto Ristori also contributed their own repertoire with sacred works of Italian, Bohemian and Viennese composers, which they arranged partly in a characteristic manner for performance practice in Dresden. The sources handed down – first and foremost of Italian church music – are frequently precious unique manuscripts.
At the end of the Seven Years' War, two thorough inventories of the collections of musical scores were undertaken and the manuscripts remained in the Catholic Court Church until 1907. By this time, the major part of manuscripts written and arranged by Heinichen, which had not been recorded in the earlier inventories, was re-included in the collection. From 1908, the music eventually found their way via the predecessor institutions Royal Public Library and/or the State Library of Saxony into the present-day SLUB.