Res. Assist. Harun Korkmaz: The Catalog of Music Manuscripts in Istanbul University Library

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This study presents a catalog of the music manuscripts that are preserved in the İstanbul Üniversitesi Nadir Eserler Kütüphanesi (İstanbul University Rare and Manuscript Collections Library). This library is especially important for its numerous music manuscripts, especially lyrics collections, which include private lyrics codices of famous composers, such as Hafiz Post, Itri, Ebubekir Agha, Sultan Mahmud II. While important books on music theory had remained in the Topkapi Palace Library, the most songbooks were delivered to the newly established Yildiz Palace. The Yildiz Palace manuscript collection was later transferred to the İstanbul Üniversitesi Nadir Eserler Kütüphanesi, after the establishment of the Turkish Republic.

This catalog includes manuscripts at the İstanbul Üniversitesi Nadir Eserler Kütüphanesi.  The catalog incorporates those manuscripts which are catalogued under Ibnulemin Collection, which is also preserved in the same library. Istanbul University Library contains 19,864 manuscripts: 9943 manuscripts in Turkish language, 6967 in Arabic, 1618 in Persian, and 81 in various languages, and the 1255 manuscripts in the Ibnulemin collection.  While researching for the Catalog of the Music Manuscripts in the Istanbul University, I went through library index cards following any terms related to music. After that I also investigated all miscellaneous compilations  as well as all poetry collections in order to identify texts related to music in those. When I realized that a manuscript that was catalogued as a versified hadith collection is in fact a songbook, I investigated all manuscripts that preserve verse texts. In the end, for the Catalog of Music Manuscripts in Istanbul University Library I ended up scanning through almost 8500 manuscripts in order to identify those texts related to music.

The Catalog of Music Manuscripts in Istanbul University Library presents the descriptions of music manuscripts under seven headings: 1. Works on music and dance; 2. Theory and method related works; 3. Lyrics codices: a. “Fasil” compilations, b. Popular Song compilations, c. Religious ceremonial music, d. Hymn compilations; 4. Composition notebooks; 5. Biographical dictionaries of musicians; 6. Various topics; 7. Works found in miscellaneous compositions. Under these titles 383 works are described. Four of those include discussions on religion, music and dancing, 11 on music theory, 70 various lyrics codices, 4 composition notebooks, 6 biograpical dictionaries and 286 manuscripts that contain chapters or sections that are related to music. The oldest dated work among those is a thoretical work on musical modes Zeynü’l-Elhân fî İlmü’t-Te’lîf ve’l-Evzân which is dated 1484.

The Catalog of Music Manuscripts in Istanbul University Library reflects only a smal portion of music manuscripts produced and/or preserved in Turkish manuscript libraries. My hope is that it will benefit researchers whose research relate to the field of Ottoman music.

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