Muscial prints at the monastery Einsiedeln from Karl Martin Fidel von Roll (1710-1784)

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

In the 1760s and 1770s, Karl Martin Fidel von Roll (1710-1784), the chaplain of the Benedictine convent of Seedorf in the canton of Uri, bought more than 30 music prints and donated them to the convent choir “zu Eüffnung des göttlichen Lobs”. All of these prints are now kept in the music library of Einsiedeln Abbey. They bear witness to an impressive musical patronage as well as to the remarkable cultivation of an international musical repertoire in a women’s monastery in central Switzerland. Thanks to the research of Father Lukas Helg, these titles could be identified in Einsiedeln.

The nuns usually wrote a short dated note on the flyleaf of the organ part attesting to the donation. Father Lukas Helg was able to find such a note in 25 different volumes of the Einsiedeln music library. The total number of donated works is higher, however, because in many cases several individual music editions were bound together. All of the printed music published in individual parts contains sacred vocal music for liturgical use in Latin. There are works by about 15 different composers. Most of them come from southern Germany, their works having been printed by the Augsburg publisher Lotter (Hahn, Königsperger, Kobrich, Madlseder and others). But Swiss composers are also represented: the Lucerne patrician Franz Joseph Leonti Meyer von Schauensee with three works (Op. 2, Op. 4 and Op. 5) and the Cistercian from St. Urban Johann Evangelist Schreiber with his Opus 3. The oldest work is Johann Valentin Rathgeber’s Op. 4 from 1726, the most recent Chrysogonus Zech’s Op. 1 from 1768. The patron Karl Martin Fidel von Roll was born in Altdorf in 1710 as the son of the Landammann Franz Martin and Maria Katharina Püntener. He studied theology and became an apostolic notary. From 1759 he was monastery chaplain in Seedorf and resigned in 1784 shortly before his death. After 1847, the monastery of Einsiedeln took over the duties of the monastery chaplain. This is probably how the old music came into the Einsiedeln music library. One can well imagine that they aroused the interest of the first music librarian, Father Gall Morel, who was a dedicated antiquarian.

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