History of the project

Decision to establish an International Inventory of Musical Sources through the International Musicological Society (IMS)

1951 Decision to carry out the project in cooperation with the International Association of Music Libraries, Music Archives and Music Documentation Centres (IAML)

1952 First conference of the Commission Mixte set up by both organizations. Elaboration of a master plan

1953 Establishment of the first secretariat in Paris. Director:
François Lesure

1st RISM meeting, Paris 1953: François Lesure, Vladimir Fedorov, Nanie Bridgman, Nino Pirotta

1960 Zentralredaktion in Kassel established

1960 – 1967 Director of the Zentralredaktion: Friedrich W. Riedel


First publications of series B:
1960 B/I: François Lesure: Recueils Imprimés XVIe-XVIIe Siècles
1964 B/II: François Lesure: Recueils Imprimés XVIIIe Siècle
Since then more than 30 volumes have been published;
see the RISM publications

1962 – 1987 Financial support from the City of Kassel

1964 – 1979 Financial support from the Ford Foundation

1965 – 1981 Financial support from Stiftung Volkswagenwerk Hannover

1968 – 1976 Director of the Zentralredaktion: Karlheinz Schlager

1971 – 1981 Publication of A/I: Einzeldrucke vor 1800 (Individual Prints before 1800); 9 volumes

1973 Establishment of regulations with regard to form and content for the description of manuscripts by the Advisory Research Committee

1976 – 1982 Director of the Zentralredaktion: Helmut Rösing


Start of series A/II:
Publication of the catalogue of the Fürstlich Hohenlohe-Langenburg'sche Schlossbibliothek in Fontes

since 1978 Support from UNESCO Conseil International de la Philosophie et des Sciences Humaines

1979 Foundation of the association Internationales Quellenlexikon der Musik e.V.
First publications of series C:
C/IV: Cecil Hill, Katya Manor, James Siddons, Dorothy Freed, Directory of Music Research Libraries. Volume 4: Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand.
Since then, 5 volumes have appeared in series C (some revised; see RISM publications

1979 – 1986 Publication of three special volumes: Norbert Böker-Heil, Harald Heckmann, Ilse Kindermann: Das Tenorlied. Mehrstimmige Lieder in deutschen Quellen 1450- 1580


Inclusion of the Zentralredaktion in the "Akademienprogramm" financed by state and federal governments through the Conference of the Academies of Sciences

1981 Publication of the guidelines for series A/II in Fontes

Meeting of the Commission mixte, Budapest 1981: Israel Adler, Pierluigi Petrobelli, Barry S. Brook, Clemens von Gleich, Helmut Rösing, Wolfgang Rehm, Harald Heckmann

1982 – 1990 Director of the Zentralredaktion: Joachim Schlichte

1984 First microfiche edition of series A/II

1986 Second microfiche edition of series A/II

1986 – 1999 Publication of A/I Einzeldrucke vor 1800 (Individual Prints before 1800): Addenda et Corrigenda (4 volumes)


Zentralredaktion moves to Frankfurt am Main, Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek at Goethe Universität

since 1987 Financial support from the City of Frankfurt

1989 Publication of INFO-RISM No. 1

since 1991 Director of the Zentralredaktion: Klaus Keil

1991 Establishment of a subcommission of the Commission Mixte for libretti. Transfer of approx. 90,000 entries from series A/II to the PIKaDo program by RISM Germany


Publication of Libretti in deutschen Bibliotheken. Katalog der gedruckten Texte zu Opern, Oratorien, Kantaten, Schuldramen, Balletten und Gelegenheitskompositionen von den Anfängen bis zur Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts. Microfiche edition

1995 First CD-ROM edition of series A/II (K.G. Saur).
New editions annually until 2008.

1997 First version of internet database of series A/II. A joint project of the RISM Zentralredaktion and the U.S. RISM Office at Harvard University.

1999 Publication of the RISM library sigla as a complete index


International congress: Scientific and Technological Challenges of Musicological Source Research at International Level — 50 Years RISM.
Second version of internet database of Series A/II
with biannual updates. Provider: National Information Services Corporation (NISC USA)



Database offered through EBSCO



Databased launched online free of charge with monthly updates


2012 International conference: Music Documentation in Libraries, Scholarship, and Practice

2013 RISM data offered as open data


2014 RISM data offered as linked open data


Our motto...
Knowing what exists
and where it is kept

...lives through the exchange of information. Join the RISM Community and learn how you can contribute to the project.