The storage of the library, its structure and history after Fibich´s death

The only existing part of Zdenek Fibich (1850-1900) personal library (the sheet music section and the literature on music) is stored today as a separate collection at the Institute of Musicology at the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University in Prague.

There are two sources documenting the history of the library: the first one is a text by V. Helfert at the Dalibor magazine (1910), which was published as a part of a special edition dedicated to Zdenek Fibich on the 10th anniversary of his death. Hereby we received the first information on the composer´s library illustrating the large extent of books and sheet music collected by the composer as well as the scope of his interests. The second source (which constitutes a large part of our text inserted with the kind permission of the author) is the research of Vlasta Reittererova. Her article is based on Helfert´s text about Fibich´s library and it examines the library in detail; during her research, Vlasta Reittererova prepared a list of the collection.

Helfert based his research on the today unknown library catalogue prepared by Zdenek Fibich´s son Richard. The catalogue originates from times when the library was still possessed by Fibich´s family. According to R. Fibich, when he begun to posses his father´s library, it "contained 1,210 items of sheet music, 252 items of music literature, 180 items of travel literature and 1,115 items of fiction and philosophy books (in Czech, German and French)...". Books apparently filled all of the composer´s flat: "In his room and hall he kept music and fiction. Books stood in the hallway, sheet music together with books were placed on his piano, chairs and extra desk...". According to R. Fibich, his father had an "amazing memory - he remembered all sorts of historical dates and information from the area of natural science... and the works of classic authors in the original language". He also had an "extensive geographical knowledge". Unfortunately, only part of his library exists today.


From Fibich´s library

A special collection of the Musical Science Institute of the Faculty of Philosophy of the Charles University in Prague

Vlasta Reittererova

In 1910, ten years after the death of Zdenek Fibich, the editing team of the Dalibor magazine led by Artus Rektorys prepared a special issue dedicated to the composer[1]. One of the contributions of the Fibich Memory Book was a text by Vladimir Helfert entitled On Fibich´s Library. It opened with general information by Otakar Hostinsky and continued with Helfert´s information on the scope of documents collected by Fibich and on the span of Fibich´s interests. Helfert´s text was based on a Fibich´s library catalogue prepared by the composer´ son Richard Fibich[2]. At that time, Fibich´s library was still owned by his family.

In the end of his life, Fibich was thinking about organizing public lectures, for which his library could serve as a rich information source. The future fate of his library was governed by two events. In 1910, Otakar Hostinsky, Fibich´s friend and collaborator, died. His ambitious student and Fibich´s admirer Zdenek Nejedly took over the task to maintain Fibich´s memory. Nejedly considered Fibich as one of the leading representatives of modern Czech music, together with Smetana and Dvorak.[3] In 1919 he became a regular professor of musical science and the ordinario of the first independent department of musical science at the university and he arranged for the transfer of Fibich´s Library into its property. He followed Fibich´s intentions, who wanted to make "information gathered in the library available of wide music auditorium"[4]. Judging by Helfert´s text, only two sections out of five were transferred: Section A (Sheet Music) and probably only a small part of Section E (Music Literature). It is not known when exactly Nejedly gained Fibich´s library[5]. For many years it was a part of Zdenek Nejedly´s office (as it was the case of Otakar Hostinsky library). Original asset numbers and call numbers indicate that these were catalogized only in the beginning of 1950´s. Even though some transfers definitely took place in between the acquisition of the collection and its inventarization, Fibich´s library was preserved as a unit; unlike the Otakar Hostinsky Portable Library it was not made a part of standard collections (with one exemption as we will see). Such merging did not take place even in 1963, when a new inventarization took place under the framework of the Faculty centralization finalized in 1969 (as we can see from the new inventary numbers indicating the year of inventarization). The library was maintained as one unit also after the Institute of Musicology of the Faculty of Arts moved from Brehova Street to the main building of the Faculty of Arts (Palach Square in Prague 1). When comparing the current state of the library with the original inventory, we are happy to say that throughout the regimes, Fibich library remained more or less untouched.

According to Helfert´s information, the catalogue included "1,306 items, out of which nearly one third were plays"[6]. This indicates that Helfert speaks only of Section A, Sheet Music. Differences between Helfert´s information and the current state do not necessarily imply loses. There is no list of what Nejedly really received from Richard Fibich and Helfert´s information could already differ from the actual content of the library (as he worked only with Richard Fibich catalogue and never actually saw Fibich´s library). However, regardless of these discrepancies we can say that the current Fibich´s library offers important historical evidence on Fibich´s private and public interests as well as about the music repertoire and editing policy of that time.

Helfert stated that it is opera which is represented in Fibich´s library "most systematically; its content offered Fibich at his time an excellent overview of the opera history. Here, Fibich is complete - a great dramatist, pensive, trying to familiarize himself which what was already accomplished and opening new ways and perspectives with yet greater certainty and firm artistic awareness"[7]. The representation of French opera is remarkable. Typical for Fibich are also numerous works by Christopher Willibald Gluck. Wagner, on the other hand, is represented only by four-hand overtures and marginal compositions.[8] Fibich studied the beginnings of opera and oratoria. According to Helfert, his library included Peri´s and Caccini´s Euridice (Caccini was allegedly present in two copies). This information does not correspond to the current situation. Nevertheless, there are several publications from the opera historical era, inter alia from the Gevaert ediction (Les Glories del´Italie). We are missing Monteverdi´s Orfeo, Scarlatti´s Rosaurus, Porpor´s  Venceslao (according to Helfert it existed also as Fibich´s fascimile) or Steffani´s works (Helfert does not mention the exact names). However, piano reduction from Jephta oratorium by Carissimo, published by Reiter-Biedermann in Leipzing in 1878, was preserved as well as Marcello´s Arianna (published by Ricordi Milano), Pergolesi´s Serva Padrona (Ricordi Milano), Paisiell´s Nina (Gayl Frankfurt a/Main) and his La Molinara (Simrock Berlin). From Paër´s operas mentioned by Helfert we have found only Griselda (Simrock, Bonn) - not Leonora or Cimarosa (Matrimonio). We have found Righini´s Gerusaleme liberata "which was written in the beginning of the 19th century but as for its content it belongs here"[9] in the form of a piano reduction by B. Bierey (published by Breitkopf&Härtel).

According to Helfert, the most precious part of Fibich´s library is Italian operas from around 1800[10]. He mentioned the following titles - Fioravanti: La cantatrice (the correct title is Le cantatrici villance), Coccia: La solitaria della Asturia, Raimondi: Francesca Donato, Caraffa: Violetta [La Violette], Vaccai: Giuletta e Romeo, Copola: Nina pazza per amore, Ricci: Chiara di Rosemberg. Today, Fibich library contains Fioravanti, Raimondi, Caraffa, Vaccai and Chi dura vince by Ricci.[11]

As far 19th-century-opera is concerned, Helfert based his work on the premise that "Fibich, an enthusiastic supporter of Wagner theories and a fierce opponent of Italian opera of the retrograde Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi times, zealously studied compositions from this period. This gave ammunition to his opposition to Italianism, which became deeper and more conscious. We won´t be surprised by that fact that Fibich gathered in his library ten Rossini´s operas. With the same energy he collected works of degenerate Italian opera," repeated Helfert automatically projecting his own sophisticated evaluations into Fibich´s professional interests.[12] The number of works by authors mentioned in Helfert´s text (titles are not listed) does not correspond to the current situation: out of ten Rossini´s operas only seven can be found, out of four Bellinis we have three and out of twenty-four Verdi´s operas only twelve were identified. All works located were early works, less well-known. Helfert mentioned six Donizetti´s operas, but Fibich library contains only seven piano reductions (Italian and German prints) - Don Pasquale (Ricordi Milano), Die Favorittin (Henry Litolff Braunschweig), Anna Bolena (Ricordi Milano), Der Liebestrank (C. F. Peters Leipzig & Berlin), Linda de Chamounix (Ricordi Milano), Lucrezia Borgia (C. F. Peters Leipzig), Die Regimentstochter (C. F. Peters Leipzig). Also other Italian authors mentioned by Helfert (Pedrotti, Boito, Ponchielli, Marchetti) and their listed works, have survived.

Fibich library is rich in French opera and according to Helfert, this can be the result of Fibich´s stay in Paris. His assumption is probably correct as many sheet music are stamped by French publishers or booksellers and we may presume that Fibich bought them in Paris. This is the case of Ballet de la Reine by Balthazar Beaujoyeux (composed in 1582) published by the Paris Théodore Michaelis publishing house as well as Saint-Saëns´ compositions published by Durand. The following works mentioned by Helfert have not been located: Campre´s L´Europe Galante, Lully´s Armida and Rousseau´a Le devin du village (Helfert wrote Le Davin, which probably is a misprint; we cannot suppose that Helfert would copy mistakes made possibly by Richard Fibich). The library includes Piccini´s Didon, Salieri´s Axur and Sacchini´s Oedipe e colonne, as well as Monsigny´s Le Déserteur, Philidor´s Ernelinde, princesse de Norvege and Grétry´s Richard Coeur de Lion. Out of eight Meyerbeer´s operas mentioned by Helfert we have found only L´etoile du Nord a Robert le diable and one Thomas´ opera (out of three mentioned) - Le Sonce d´une nuit d´été by Shakespeare´s Midsummer Night´s Dream, which has never been performed in Czech lands and which has practically disappeared from the opera stage of 20th century.

As far as German opera is concerned, Fibich was interested in this field probably since the time of his Leipzig studies. According to Helfert, Fibich library included melodramas by Jiri Antonin Benda. This is natural taking into account Fibich´s composition type and the fact that he conducted Ariadna and Medea in the Provisional Theatre in 1875. Today, only a singspiel by Jiri Antonin Benda´ son Friedrich Ludwig Benda is of historical interest - Der Barbier von Sevilla published in Leipzing in 1770. Today, Fibich library lack more singspiels by Anton Schweitzer, Reichardt and Zumsteeg; only Reichardt and Zumsteeg are represented by their ballads and songs.[13] Also a Winter´s singspiel Das undetrbrochene Opernfest and Der Bergmönch by Josef Wolfram has been preserved. Helfert mentioned "16 numbers" by Weber; this does not clearly indicate the nature of these "numbers". From Weber´s operas we have found only a four-hand edition of Der Freischütz and his music to the play Preciosa by P.A.Wolf. All five operas by Louise Spohr are accounted for. There are also curious items such as opera Santa Chiara bearing only the author´s initials E.H. von S. The author is Ernest II zu Sachsen-Koburg-Goth and the opera was composed in 1854. Piano reduction was published by Henry Litolff in Braunschweig. Fibich was perhaps interested in collection bibliophile prints as indicated by the number of aria sheets, opera overtures, etc. published mostly by the Marco Berra Prague publishing house.

Robert Schumann is represented by numerous works. Helfert mentioned "complete Schuman" works and sheet music in 58 volumes. This indicates that today we have at our disposal only a part of Fibich´s archive. Except for one, we are missing also Kalliwoda´s symphonies mentioned by Helfert (four-hand piano arrangement) and Ryba´ songs as well as Myslivecek´s Ezia[14]. However, Fibich library includes handwritten facsimile of three songs by Ernts Bassermann (Drei gedichte von Eichendorff), his ballad Der blinde König (lyrics Heinrich Heine), Der todte Tanzer (also Heine´s text) by Sigismund Goldschmidt, Heyden´s signspiel Philemon und Baucis, Loewe´s songs inspired by Goethe with Czech text Ten tam muj klid (probably the property of Betty Fibichova), fascimile of the score of Nicolaie ouverture Die lustige Weiber con Windsor[15] and especially a handwritten first act of Mozart´s opera Cosi fan tutte (piano reduction) by Jan Krtitel Kuchar. Mozart, Schubert and Mendelssohn are frequently represented. Helfert´s information on Dusek´ sonatas must be corrected - the sonatas were composed by Jan Ladislav Dusik. Melodramas, on which Fibich focused intensively in theory and practice since 1880´s, are represented in Fibich library by Franz Liszt´s Leonora (A. Bürger) and Schelm von Bergen (lyrics by Heinrich Heine) by Carl Reinecky. The "three-act melodrama" by the Ukrainian composer Michail Verbicky Podgoranie was probably included by mistake; it is in fact an operetta. Fibich of course knew the Italian terminology (melodramma in Italian means opera) and he might have not expected this term in a Slavic language.

Many works include pencil-written notes (in Fibich´s hand) about the particular work (composition date) and life particulars of concrete composers. A small note on the inner title of the Suite op. 35 by Christian Sinding (four-hand arrangement) reading "B. Capek 1899" indicates that Fibich probably gained this composition from Bedrich Capek, a musical referent of Lumir and Smetana magazines who published also in other magazines - mainly texts on Fibich, Zich and Ostrcil. Capek also wrote an article for the Fibich Memory Book. Fibich´s contacts are documented also by the donation of Russkie pesni i pesni juznych i zapadnych Slavjanov compiled by Dmitrij Slavianski and published by his wife O.CH. Slavianska[16]. Tri pisne v duchu srbskych motivu by J. Ivanisevic contain a Czech inscription "Slovutnemu skladateli a svemu velevazenemu uciteli a priteli mistru Zd. Fibichovi s veskerou uctou skladatel / v Praze 26/I 1889". Important is also the fact that the copy of Schumann´ Sonata in A Minor for violin and piano op. 105 bears a pencil signature of Karel Bendl.

Interesting information potential is hidden in the list of spiritual music gathered in Fibich library. Fibich´s relationship to church music has not yet been examined in detail and the fact that he destroyed his spiritual compositions (composed solely in the beginning of his career) prevents an analytic approach to this topic and complicates the answer to the question about the substance of Fibich´s religious feelings. Fibich library contains many Bach´s organ concerts and chorals (319 items); also Georg Friedrich Handel is significantly represented.

Beethoven takes a very important place in Fibich library; however, out of three copies of Fidelius mentioned by Helfert, none can be found today. Beethoven´s Mass in C Major Op. 86 was gained by Fibich probably during his stay in Lithuania (Vilnius 1873-74) as indicated by the sticker "E. Theodor Lambeck, Buch- und Musikalienhandlung, Deutsche und francözische Leihbibliotek in Wilna".

 It is interesting to look at the representation of Scandinavian composers. Fibich library contains numerous songs by Niels Gade and the score of his Scottish ouverture Im Hochland and Sinfonie op. 5 dedicated to Felix Mendelssohn. Other authors include Eduard Lassen and Adolf Fredrik Lindblad. From vocal music authors we must mention the very numerous works of Carl Loewe. In order to fully realize the scope of Fibich´s interests, we must note a number of Hector Berlioz and Camille Saint-Saëns compositions as well as multiple works by Anton Rubinstein. Of piano literature, we must mention small piano compositions by Stephan Heller, Adolph Henselt, Adolf Jensen, Ignaz Moscheles or Robert Volkmann. Their stylization and non-musical inspirations serve as a comparison material for Fibich´s piano cycles, mainly his Nalady, dojmy a pripominky. There are also compositions, which might have inspired Fibich - either Clementi´s Gradus ad Parnassum (with the rubber stamp of Richard Fibich) or a number of his sonatas, Cramer´s Practische Pianoforte-Schule and Proksch´s handbook Versuch einen rationellen Lehrmethode in Pianofortespiel and abundance of four-hand arrangements.

The number of Czech authors in Fibich library is surprisingly small. There is Smetana, Charakteristicky kus No. 1, published under the Franz Liszt edition, score of the Tabor symphonic poem, piano reduction of Dvorak´s Requiem and the score of his Suite op. 39. Helfert also mentioned the representation of Czech music. The following works are present: Bendl´s Lejla (1st and 2nd Act published in one volume in Hudebni matice by Ed. Gregr) and two Bendl´s masses, Mala suita for violin and piano by Emanuel Chvala, Requiem by Frantisek Gregor, Vaclav Horak´s mass, Vojtech Hrimal´s duets, four-hand arrangement of Bajaja ballet ouverture and Sousedska by Jindrich Kaan, songs by Frantisek Kavan, Stabat mater by Frantisek Musil, compositions by Eduard Napravnik (from his Russian times), songs by Josef Paukner and Frantisek Pivoda, Rozkosny´s Svatojanske proudy, Mikulas and his Balada with lyrics by R. Mayer, Skuhersky´s Graduale and Offertorium, his Ceska mse and Skroup´s piano arrangement of the ouverture to Bellini´s  Castel von Ursino.[17]

Fibich library collections demonstrate not only the scope of interests of Zdenek Fibich and his historical insight, but can also illustrate the contemporary repertoir and taste. There is evidence indicating that some of the sheet music belonged to Betty Fibichova - Czech texts and interpretation notes in the score (dynamics, breath marks, etc.). The copy Rubinstein´s Zwölf Lieder op.36 is signed by Betty Hanusova; it was Ms Fibichova´s property before the marriage.

With regard to Section E (Music Literature) of Fibich library, some titles are missing in comparison with Helfert´s list. However, it is necessary to emphasize that it is not sure whether they were really transferred into the collections of the Musical Science Institute. Missing titles mentioned by Helfert include e.g. Wessen und Geschichte der Oper by Gottfried Wilhelm Finck[18] as well as Marcelllo´s Il teatro alla moda and Kretzchmar´s Führer duch den Konzertsaal.

 Vlasta Reittererova´s article is accompanied by a list of Fibich library classified by subjects, which she had prepared during her musicology examination of the library. She has prepared also an expanded list of Fibich library, where she registered all individual features discovered in volumes of this collection. The list is available at the Musical Science Institute Library and was also made available by Vlasta Reittererova for the purposes of this project (to allow making fascimilies of the most important features of Zdenek Fibich in the library). These features were copied using scanners and digital cameras (not all sheet music marked with a rubber stamp "Zdenek Fibich" were copied, only a selection was made). Some publications have not been found (probably due to wrong call numbers). The list published here is the expanded  list of Fibich library prepared by Vlasta Reittererova (Czech descriptions in this list were by workers of the project translated in English).


Individual features in the books of Zdenek Fibich personal library

Rubber stamps, notes, signatures and inscriptions

Sheet music and books from the personal library of Zdenek Fibich include many small individual features. They frequently contain rubber stamp "Zdenek Fibich" on the cover page or on the first page of the sheet music. But there is also rubber stamp of Richard Fibich - "Richard Fibich" (in one book, the stamp reads "Dr. Richard Fibich, Chirurg u. Orthopaede"). Specific markings were found at the score of Symfonie B-dur by Franz Schubert stamped with the rubber stamp "Statni pamatkova sprava, knizni fond Radenin" (arrangement for four hands), which clearly belonged to the collections of Radenin Castle library.

Many publications include Fibich´s handwritten notes (in pencil) with information on the date of origin of the work and life particulars of the given composer, e.g. in the piano reduction of Beethoven´s Missa solemnis as well as in the piano reductions of Bellini´s Norma,  G.B. Pergolesi´s La serva Padrone, in the works of Vincenzo Belini, Robert Schuman, Ch.W. Gluck, Gioacchina Rossini, and others. Fibich pencil notes contain also other information, e.g. "1785 als Tatare.... uberarbeitet..." (redone in 1785 in Tatre)  in the piano reduction of Salieri´s Axur. In Rossini´s opera Aschenbrödel we can find the original ouverture plus an ouverture with the following Fibich´s notes: "welche im k.k. priv. Theater an der Wien aufgefuhrt wird" (which will be shown in the private emperor´s theatre in Vienna). Gluck´s Iphigenie na Tauride include instrumentation notes.

In several cases, we can find Zdenek Fibich´s pencil autograph ("Zd. Fibich"), e.g. in Mozart´s Don Giovanni or Taubert´s Klänge aus der Kinderwelt. There are also signatures of other people - e.g. Josef Muller, A. Ostrcil and K. Bendl. One note on the inner title of Suita op. 35 by Christian Sinding (four-hand arrangement) reads "B. Capek 1899"; this indicates that Fibich probably gained this composition from Bedrich Capek, a musical editor of Lumir and a well-known publicist.

Fibich´s library includes also several inscriptions: a volume of Russian and Southern/Western Slavs´ songs collection (Russkie pesni i pesni juznych i zapadnych Slavianov) compiled by Dmitrii Slavianski contains the following inscription: "Gospodinu professoru Fibichu na pamiat od D. Slavianskovo, Praga 14/29 Avgust 1880". Another inscription is included in Tri pisne v duchu srbskych motivu by J. Ivanisevic, which has the following inscription (in Czech): "Slovutnemu skladateli a svemu velevazenemu uciteli a priteli mistru Zd. Fibichovi s veskerou uctou skladatel (v Praze, 26/I 1889)". Small curiosities include rubber stamps of Czech and foreign publishers, editors, booksellers, antiquarians and salesmen of sheet music.

The musicological examination of Fibich library focusing on individual features enables us to better understand the manner of Zdenek Fibich´s work with music material and sheds more light on the background of his work.



[1] Vladimir Helfert: Z Fibichovy knihovny. Dalibor. 1910, no. 32, pp. 329-332.

[2] Helfert´s  footnote on page 330: "I used the Fibich´s library catalogue, which was prepared in three volumes by Richard Fibich and which is classified into the following sections: A - Sheet Music; B - Books on Travelling, C - Natural Science, D - Fiction, Philosophy, Art Books, E - Literature on Music, etc. I could not use my own library." I have prepared an information on the collection of the Fibich´s library for the international symposium "Musikgeschichte zwischen Ost- und Westeuropa" in Chemnitz 1995, published in: Deutsche Musik in Osten, Bd. 10, ed. Helmut Loos, Sankt Augustin, 1997, pp. 399-403.

[3] Nejedly wrote in his obituary for Dvorak: "Dvorak was the last great figure of our famous musical trio". This statement was later perceived as a quality judgment; however, its original meaning was chronological. Zdenek Nejedly: Antonin Dvorak mrtev, in: Zvon 4 (1904), pp. 463-464 (6.5.1904).

[4] Helfert, see footnote 1, p. 332. Reference to Musical Club established by Nejedly in 1910. The Musical Club organized public lectures of professional quality.

[5] It was separately classified under the title Fibich Library, see below.

[6] Helfert, see footnote 1, p. 330.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid, page 331. It can be supposed that Fibich himself, or his descendants, donated part of the library to their friends or to other institutions.

[9] Ibid, p. 330.

[10] "Most precious for two reasons: This period is nowadays little known and if there is a time of 17th and 18th century which is difficult to research because of the lack of the material [...], it is precisely this period. Bibliographic tools are insufficient and this period has rarely been subjected to scientific research." Helfert, see footnote 1, p. 330.

[11] Of course, we may ask, how precise have been Richard Fibich´s records in his, today unknown, catalogue.

[12] Reference reports, prepared by Fibich in the position of a musical manager of the National Theatre (some of which were published by Artus Rektorys in Fibich´s Memorial on pp. 325-329) implies his reserved attitude to veristic opera (Umberto Giordano but also Gina by Karel Bendl). This Helfert´s opinion is unsustainable today, but we cannot examine it in detail in this article.

[13] It is certainly strange, that works which mentioned specifically by Helfert are exactly those, which are now missing. However, it is not possible to reconstruct the transfers of library items in between the publishing of Helfert´s article, handover of the library to Zdenek Nejedly and the 1950´s inventarization.

[14] Myslivecek´s score of Ezia, however, is located at the Muscial Science Institute Library. Judging by the original call number and asset number we may say that this is the copy mentioned by Helfert (it needs to be ascertained whether this is indeed Fibich´s handwriting), which was later by mistake resigned and enrolled within standard collections. Later it was taken out and transferred into a closed collection of manuscripts and old prints.

[15] The fascimile is dated Debrezen 20 September 1864; the title cover includes partly illegible note: "Wohanka, 24/2 [year illegible].

[16] Slavianski, Dmitri: Russkie pesni i pesni juznych Slavjanov. Sobrania D.A.Slavianskim i perelozenia dla odnogo golosa i chora O.Ch. Slavianskoiu. Posviashcu moemu muzu Dmitriu Aleksandrovichu Slavianskomu. Inscription: "Gospodinu professoru Fibichu na pamiat od D. Slavianskogo Praga, 14/29 Avgust 1880."

[17] I.e. Beatrice di Tenda (opening was in 1833 in Venice. With the title Il Castello d'Ursino it was introduced in Terst in 1837).

[18] This publication was gained by the Music Science Institute from the Portable Library of Otakar Hostinsky.