Searching for People in the New RISM Catalog

The new version of the RISM catalog that was released over the summer has opened up the possibility to do a detailed search for the people that appear in RISM records: composers, publishers, singers, instrumentalists, dedicatees, etc. Though we are working on making this tool more intuitive to use, we would like to point out its functionalities even in this basic stage.

You can search by name, gender, nationality, city, job, and function, or a combination thereof. For example, searching for Composer female will find all of the women composers in the RISM database.

To find the actual people and not just musical sources that contain the same words, you might have to use the filter Authority data on the left-hand side at the very bottom, and then select Persons. (Please note that at the moment you cannot sort the results list if you have filtered for personal names.)

Here is more information about the individual categories that are searchable:

unknown (used in cases like when a first name is not available)

The search for nationality is based on the standards given by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek and must be done using the ISO abbreviation for the modern name of the country. A search for Franco-Flemish composers, for example, is not possible. The ISO abbreviations that we use are made up of the continent and country. For example, XA-IT stands for Italy.

XA – Europe
XB – Asia
XC – Africa
XD – The Americas
XE – Australia and Oceania

You can find a complete list here (PDF).

City (place of birth, death, or place active)
Enter the name of the city in the local language, so Roma instead of Rome or Wrocław instead of Breslau.

Job or Function
Enter the name of the job or the function in English. Function refers to the function the person holds in relation to the given musical source, such as former owner, dedicatee, performer, etc.

Search terms
We do not yet have a list available of the concrete search terms you can use. Until this happens, take a look at a variety of records for personal names to get a sense of what kind of vocabulary we use. Here are some examples:
Maria Antonia Walpurgis, Kurfürstin von Sachsen

Fanny Hensel

Pietro Metastasio

Ignace Pleyel


Category: RISM online catalog

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