Provincial Archives of the Swiss Capuchins

With Einsiedeln, Disentis, Engelberg, Fischingen and the convent of St. Andreas in Sarnen, RISM Switzerland has catalogued the largest and most important music libraries of the Benedictines in Switzerland. The focus on Benedictine monasteries is obvious, since musical practice has always been held in high esteem in this order. Moreover, there has always been active discussions in this area, even beyond national borders. However, there are other orders which keep large and partly unknown musical sources in their libraries, if not to the same extent.

One of these is the Capuchin Order of Franciscan friars. Due to their ideal of poverty, which prevailed until 19th century, church music and use of the organ in church services was not in favour with this order and did not allow for a long musical tradition. Nevertheless, in later years the order produced outstanding composers who made a name for themselves beyond the walls of the monastery. Composers close to the order also wrote numerous works, especially for services in the monasteries. The largest collection of Franciscan sources is kept in the Provincial Archives of the Swiss Capuchins, which are housed within the walls of the Wesemlin Monastery in Lucerne. The heart of this collection is the archive of Fr Reinhard Peter (1913-1993), whose oeuvre includes not only liturgical works, but numerous secular works ranging from chamber music, choral, and solo songs, to music for the stage which he composed in his capacity as Kapellmeister for the annual theatre performances at the Kollegium St. Fidelis in Stans. Other individual manuscripts—almost all autographs, including those of A. Jenny and J. B. Hilber—and collections, e.g. of Fr. Ekkehard Högger (1920-1993) and Fr. Erich Eberle (1896-1978), complete the extensive holdings.

Many sources have been transferred to the Provincial Archives due to monastery dissolutions in recent years and will now be reassessed, reordered, and catalogued by RISM Switzerland. The documentation of these holdings is all the more important as the Capuchins in Switzerland face an uncertain future. RISM Switzerland will make a major contribution to the preservation of music heritage in Switzerland. This project is carried out with the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Contact: Cédric Güggi