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Beata Płoska Digitalisation of Łańcut music materials in the context of Polish and European culture

The project of the digitalisation of musical works from the collections of the Castle Museum in Łańcut was completed in 2010 by the Horizon Art Society in Krakow, with essential cooperation from our German partners and a great commitment on the part of the Museum.

During our work on the project we adopted a broad, audio-visual digitalisation formula. On one side, we entered a large portion of the manuscripts and printed music collection into a digital catalogue of the library; on the other – going beyond the basic documentary and archival framework of our project – we recorded selected works in the form of sound on two CDs. In addition, we recorded a number of music files with fragments of works; we hope that they will be a useful resource for information. Thanks to the “sound digitalisation” of the Łańcut scores, our project has taken on a decidedly artistic aspect.

It is noteworthy that the library of the Łańcut Castle owes its collection mainly to Princess Izabela Lubomirska, the owner of the Łańcut estate during the rise and fall of the Polish Enlightenment. On her initiative the original castle-fortress was rebuilt – in the spirit of the era – as a palatial residence, and its interiors filled with numerous works of European art. To the priceless collections of the Castle Museum – paintings, sculptures, antique vases, crafts and old musical instruments – belongs a unique collection of sheet music, which is the subject of our interest.

Because of the vast amount of material, we concentrated nearly exclusively on Polish and German music (we predict that this is a good starting point for the development of the project in subsequent years). In individual cases, we also turned our attention to composers of other nationalities that were drawing on Polish traditions or had multinational roots. This apparent deviation from the general objectives of the project was to loosen rigid divisions and emphasise the transnational dimension of art – especially music. In this way, we highlight the pan-European profile of the Łańcut musical collection, possessing a sense of the cultural community of our continent long before the embodiment of the idea of a united Europe.

The overarching goal of the 2010 digitalisation of the Łańcut music collections was their preservation in digital form, thus creating conditions for safe long-term storage. An equally important aspect of digitising the collections should be their propagation, which involves making the electronic recordings of scores and individual parts available to wide circles of researchers and practitioners. For us – as performing musicians – the mission of restoring the works to their rightful place in concert halls is especially important. We expect that the live presentation (“digitalisation” of sound) of selected works available on our CDs will help to increase the use of Łańcut sheet music for artistic purposes.

During the recording and performance of all of these extremely valuable, revived works, we felt that we were participating in a historic moment. Our recordings are unique in the world, and the compositions, which were included in the gala concert in the Castle Ballroom (10 October 2010), were probably heard for the first time in many decades.

We hope that in the near future we will be able to continue our project. The digitalisation of a vast number of volumes as well as the accompanying recording of selected works is a task that will require at least several years of work and considerable financial investment. But it is an effort worth taking. We believe that thanks to the comprehensive digitalisation of the Łańcut musical pieces we can bring to life many valuable, yet unplayed works, and our efforts in this area will meet with positive responses from Polish and European cultural institutions and private sponsors.

As a society whose members are artists and art lovers associated with artistic circles in Poland and abroad, we express our deep satisfaction that the project we have undertaken of the digitalisation of the Łańcut Castle Museum library collection of Polish and German music promotes the preservation and protection of cultural heritage with a decidedly European significance, as well as the development of artistic activities in the context of Polish cooperation with the European Union.

Beata Płoska – project director, Horizon Art Society

Translated by Xymena Pietraszek-Płatek
Proofread by Ben Koschalka

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