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Musical Archives | Mdina Cathedral Museum Archives

Musical Archives

Faithful to the old Latin maxim qui cantat bis orat (the person who sings is praying twice) the Mdina Cathedral endeavoured to enrich its liturgical celebrations with music of the highest quality. At first the Cathedral Chapter imported qualified directors from Sicily, but later sponsored promising Maltese candidates to study in the conservatories of Sicily and Naples, and to employ them to direct the cappella musicale of the Cathedral, performing their own compositions. In this way a musical archive of the highest quality was built up and conserved in the Church’s lower sacristy. This collection which survived the earthquake of 1693 contains many unique printed and manuscript scores as well as the scores of the earliest known Maltese composers.

As from January 1968 the musical archives were opened for public research in the newly restored palace of the Old Seminary in Mdina, with a small selection of scores displayed in a showcase. This gesture was so much appreciated that a number of persons who had family ownership of collections of musical archives in their families were all too happy to donate them to the Cathedral archives, convinced that these would in future be properly conserved and studied. This was the case of one living composer and music director, Mro Paul Nani, as well as the relatives

of various deceased composers and directors who had inherited their collections. These collections included not only the works composed by their ancestors, but also works by other composers which they or their ancestors had also collected. Some collections included works by a large number of local or foreign composers.

In their present state the musical archives of the Mdina Cathedral include 27 different collections, with a general hand-list of each single score furnishing details of the composer, title, date of composition and other relevant information. This hand-list covers no less than 5251 entries. There are also additional hand-lists as well as detailed index cards of each score.

Enlisted hereunder are the various sections of the archives, showing how the music collection of the Cathedral Chapter’s archives was gradually set up and enriched, especially during the last 50 years. Also given are basic details of each donation. These basic details do not include the names of the composers referred to in that particular donation as the list may contain too many names. Moreover the works of some important composers are included with works in various donations.

SERIESTITLE OF SERIES
VOLUMES CONTAINING      
WORKS
DESCRIPTION OF SERIES
1THE CHORAL BOOKS,
12TH-18TH CENT.
Recovered from the Cathedral sacristies is a collection of manuscript choral books for liturgical use with music notations. The earliest two are written in a medieval Aquitanian notation. These are the earliest music manuscripts known to exist in Malta.
2PRINTED WORKS BY ITALIAN COMPOSERS, 1568-1798PR:
0001 - 0158
A collection of 158 rare works printed in Italy with one in France, containing both religious and 20 secular works. Several of these works are unique. Two publications fully document this collection.
3MS SCORES BY ITALIAN COMPOSERS, 17TH TO 18TH CENT.119 works, also recovered from the church sacristies, with many unique scores by important Sicilian and italian composers.
4UNATTRIBUTED MS SCORES, 17TH-18TH CENT.142 works mostly written by the same person. These are copies of important old works, whose copyist did not record the name of the composer.
5THE EXTANT WORKS OF THE EARLIEST KNOWN MALTESE COMPOSERS, 1616-1707142 works mostly written by the same person. These are copies of important old works, whose copyist did not record the name of the composer.
6THE DON BENIGNO ZERAFA SCORESZerafa Don Benigno
0243 - 0330
0711
4767
A collection of 91 manuscript works of sacred music which Zerafa - maestro di cappella of the Cathedral for many years - composed, mostly performed and finally donated to the church.
7THE FRANCESCO AZOPARDI SCORESAzzopardi Francesco
0335 - 0584
0643
0686 - 0689
0691 - 0698
0754 - 0756
1683
2223 - 2230
4242 - 4253
4418
4729 - 4745
A collection of 250 works composed by Francesco Azopardi, a famous successor of Benigno Zerafa. The Church purchased these scores from the composer’s sister soon after his death.
8A CORPUS OF SCORES BY VARIOUS MALTESE COMPOSERSAbout 50 scores by various Maltese composers were conserved as a group in the Cathedral sacristies. With the transfer of the old archives to the building of the Old Seminary in 1969, this group was retained as a separate collection.
9THE NANI COLLECTIONNani Agostino
0644
0745
3266

Nani Antonio
0670 - 0671
0730 - 0738
1464
1725 - 1757
1762 - 1787
1838 - 1841
1859 - 1861

Nani Emanuele
0646 - 0661
0744
1848 - 1854

Nani Paolo
0713 - 0714
0739 - 0743
1466 - 1620
1705
1788 - 1832
1845 - 1847


Nani Dr. Paolo
0662 - 0669
0715 - 0729
1833 - 1837
1842 - 1844
1855 - 1858
2444 - 2445
3807 - 3808
4420 - 4421

Nani Vincenzo
0645
Mro Paul Nani - the last of a whole generation of composers and music directors in various churches and theatres - was the first to donate his very rich collection to the Cathedral Archives. The scores were brought over in three separate installments and the whole process took a number of years to be completed. With the scores of his ancestors Emanuele, Vincenzo, Agostino, Dr Paolo, Antonio and his own scores, he added several works by other composers. In 1984 the donation was finalised by a public deed in acts of notary Anthony Attard. A full catalogue of the Nani composers has been published by Franco Bruni and others in 2007 and was recently made available online.
10THE AURELIO CAMILLERI COLLECTIONA corpus of 29 scores by various Maltese composers was recovered from the basement of the house of Aurelio Camilleri of Rabat and donated to the Cathedral Archives. Camilleri was a relative of Mro Francesco Azopardi.
11THE LUIGI VELLA COLLECTIONVella Luigi
1227 - 1462
4728
About 80 scores by Luigi Vella and other composers, together with a number of files with press cutting and information on musical activity in Vella’s times, were donated by Mrs Edwige Camilleri, a relative of Vella.
12THE ALBERTO VELLA COLLECTIONVella Alberto
0975 - 1050
1052 - 1168
1646
Mr Anthony Vella, son of Alberto, donated a large collection of scores by the Vella Composers, Dr Giuseppe, Alberto, Paul and Luigi.
13THE MRO FRANCESCO SAMMUT COLLECTIONSammut Mro Francesco
4182 - 4183
4493 - 4534
4594 - 4615
4677 - 4712
A small collection of scores by various Maltese composers was donated by the director of music in various churches on secondary feast days.
14THE CARUANA COLLECTION Caruana Giuseppe:
0630
1867 - 2001
2001 - 2206
2301 - 2302
4214 - 4219
4239

Caruana Anton:
2207 - 2218
4411 - 4414
4239
Miss Bice Caruana daughter of the well known composer Mro Giuseppe donated all the scores of her father and her two brothers Fr Anton SJ and Salvino. The hymns of Giuseppe Caruana are still very popular and some of them have earned international recognition.
15THE CARMELO PACE COLLECTIONPace Carmelo
0632
2582 - 3061
This extensive collection was generously donated by the composer himself during his lifetime, with a duplicate in photocopy to assist researchers and with a detailed published catalogue of all his works.
16THE GIUSEPPE DOUBLET COLLECTIONDoublet Giuseppe
2230B
2306 - 2394
2462
363 scores by various composers of the Cottonera area were donated by J. B. Cassar of Rabat.
17THE DON PIETRO PAOLO GALEA COLLECTIONGalea Don Pietro Paolo
3101 - 3158
3160
3166
3802
The De la Salle Brothers donated the scores composed by their confrere Pietro Paolo Galea, intending to attract a researcher who would study and evaluate the collection.
18THE GIUSEPPE MAGRI COLLECTIONMagri Giuseppe
3202 - 3250
53 scores including three operas were donated by the composer’s daughter in 1988.
19THE CARLO FIAMINGO COLLECTIONFiamengo Carlo:
3263

Fiamengo Giorgio
3255 - 3262
A small collection of 19 scores by Giorgio and Carlo Fiamingo and other composers.
20THE SALVATORE SCICLUNA COLLECTIONScicluna Salvatore:
2451 - 2454
3378 - 3575
4428

Scicluna Calcedonio
3374 - 3377
302 scores donated in 1989 by the composer’s son Oreste. They were all composed by Salvatore Scicluna, with only three by Calcedonio Scicluna.
21THE CAMILLERI COLLECTIONCamilleri Agostino
3582
4435

Camilleri Emmanuele
3591
3617A - 3618?

Camilleri Enrico
3583 - 3586
3618?

Camilleri Ferdinando
3591
3617
3636 - 3767
3826 - 3838
3840 - 3852
3905

Camilleri Gavino
3592 - 3613
3615 - 3616
3839

Camilleri Giuseppe
3621 - 3635
4540

Camilleri Luigi
1631
Camilleri Vincenzo
3587 - 3590
3614
A large collection of works by various composers of the Camilleri family and other composers. The collection was received in two installments.
22THE ABELA SCOLARO COLLECTION Abela Scolaro
3252
4019 - 4119
4122 - 4175
4191 - 4195
4433
4535
181 scores by Joseph Abela Scolaro and other composers were donated in 1990 by the family. These include a considerable amount of band music.
23THE GALEA MISURA COLLECTION Mostly coming from the Mallia Cassar Collection, this extensive collection was donated in two parts by the Galea family of Valletta.
24THE FR DANIEL SAMMUT COLLECTIONSammut Fr. Daniel
4183
4493 - 4533
4593 - 4615
4677 - 4712
This prolific Carmelite composer donated copies of his own scores during his lifetime.
25A GROUP OF SMALLER DONATIONSA number of small donations by various collectors have been grouped together so as to form a separate unit.
26THE MELLIEĦA PARISH COLLECTION316 scores by various composers, mainly by but mostly by Luigi Grech Grandolini have been given to the Cathedral and so far conserved and so far kept apart as a separate collection.
27THE ANTON AZZOPARDI COLLECTIONAnton Azzopardi of Lija was a minor composer of sacred music. His family donated all his scores, which are currently conserved in 25 folders.
28A VAST COLLECTION OF PRINTED SCORES BY MOSTLY FOREIGN COMPOSERSThese have been listed and conserved in 56 packs, the last eleven of which are works by Maltese composers.
FOLDERCONTAINED VOLUMES
Catalogue Cards 11 - 239
Catalogue Cards 2240 - 584
Catalogue Cards 3585 - 1050
Catalogue Cards 41051 - 1465
Catalogue Cards 51466 - 1832
Catalogue Cards 61833 - 2000
Catalogue Cards 72001 - 2400
Catalogue Cards 82401 - 2581
Catalogue Cards 92582 - 3052
3053 - 3061
Catalogue Cards 103101 - 3201
Catalogue Cards 113202 - 3373
Catalogue Cards 123374 - 3575
Catalogue Cards 133576 - 4018
Catalogue Cards 144019 - 4239
Catalogue Cards 154240 - 4534
Catalogue Cards 164535 - 4747
Catalogue Cards Pr 1 PR 0001 - 0158