The Second Life of the Altomünster Abbey Library

15:36 by Karin Strinnholm Lagergren

My blog has paused for a while since nothing particularly interesting has happened in my research project. Compiling databases and tables, and writing substantial amounts of texts that eventually not will end up in published form is not an exciting subject for a blogpost. But 9-1 October I spent in Munich visiting the diocesan archive of Munich and Freising ( This archive holds since the beginning of this year the abbey library from the Birgittine abbey in Altomünster which was closed last year. The library is being catalogued and contains at the moment 677 items. These are not only liturgical books but the entire library with books from ca 1500 up to the 20th century. I consulted about 50 of them containing chant and made some first and preliminary conclusions about the Altomünster chant tradition in comparison to what I know about the Birgittine abbeys in Vadstena and Uden (to be published later).  The archive hope to be able to digitize the collection, and for the time being seven books are digitized: one Birgittine Regula from the 17th century and six liturgical books with notation from ca. 1500. Here are the links for those interested:

Alto MS D 11: Regula salvatoris. Altomünster 1625.

Alto MS P An 1: Antiphonarium Birgittinum. Ca 1500 with additions from probably 17th cent.

Alto MS P An 2: Antiphonarium – graduale. Ca 1500?

Alto MS P An 3: Antiphonarium Graduale. Ca 1500?

Alto MS P An 4:  Antiphonarium – graduale. Ca 1500?

Alto MS P An 5:  Antiphonarium – graduale. Ca 1500?

Alto MS P An 6: Antiphonarium – graduale. Ca 1500?


Closing a library is always a pain and for a abbey this means that the library is taken out of its context. The good thing on the other side is that the Altomünster sources now are much more accessible now since it was almost impossible to access when it was housed in the abbey. The staff at the archive is excellent and very helpful and the archive not overly rigid. However, photos are unfortunately not allowed to take of the books why I hope there will be possible to digitize the whole collection within reasonable time. So for this blogpost you will have to do with a photo of the entrance door to the archive!

Karin Strinnholm Lagergren
Senior Lecturer at Linnaeus University
Senior lecturer in musicology and singer of medieval music. Research interest monastic chant, in particular Birgittines and Dominicans. In this blog I write, comment and reflect on my research project 'The Musical World of the Birgittine Order'. Expect loads of manuscript images, tricky chant problems and square notation!

Comments are closed.