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

In the life of members of the Imperial family, music played an important role. They were taught music and played musical instruments from childhood. Not surprisingly, they were regarded as competent music connoisseurs.

During the coronation ceremony and other occasions for public celebration such as a wedding, a birth of a heir, a name day, the Imperial family members recieved numerous gifts of various kinds. Among them were musical manuscripts. Most of them are now held 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 hoped 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 «Culture of Russia».