400th Anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty:
Music Gifts for the Russian Emperors

In the life of the Romanovs family, music played an important role. From childhood, the imperial members had been taught music lessons and had played musical instruments. All of them were regarded as competent music connoisseurs.

Ceremonies marking important public and private events (such as coronations, weddings, births of heirs, name days) included the presentation of special gifts of all kinds to the royal persons. Among presents were music manuscripts, a major portion of which are now kept in the National Library of Russia.

The collection of music manuscripts contains musical works of the world famous composers: C.P.E. Bach, K. Weber, F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, etc. It also comprises compositions of the less celebrated authors who formed the circle of Russian music elite at their time, namely K. Schubert, L. Maurer, S. Schulzman and so on. The Manuscripts Department even keeps works of the little-known musicians.

Presenting music manuscripts to the members of the imperial family, the authors were hoping for royal approval and expected their works to be published and performed. To produce an impression, musicians tried to make the gift more attractive, finely decorating it. The manuscripts were bound in morocco or velvet embossed in gold, their sheets were beautifully calligraphed and embellished with colourful ornaments.

The project gives the very general public an opportunity to view both the appearance and the contents of music materials presented to the members of the Romanov family.

The project was carried out as part of the federal action programme ¬ęCulture of Russia¬Ľ.