Casa Ricordi Letters

This project is producing a digital edition of the letters (15,000) written to Casa Ricordi, the world famous music publisher, during the 19th and 20th centuries by writers, singers and composers including Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Franz Liszt, Ottorino Respighi, Jules Massenet, Alfredo Casella and Luigi Nono.

The Archivio Storico Ricordi began and grew with the publishing company Casa Ricordi, founded in 1808. Considered one of the most important private musical archives, it preserves the original handwritten scores of 23 of Verdi’s 28 operas, all the operas by Giacomo Puccini (except La Rondine), as well as a great many works by composers like Bellini, Rossini and Donizetti and living composers like Nono, Donatoni, Sciarrino and

The Archive has a rich iconographic collection related to many world and local premieres and includes set and costume designs, collections of photographs and letters, and a large amount of business documentation. These documents and images enable scholars to reconstruct the genesis of important operas and the development of the musical publishing industry of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The iconographic collection also documents the pictorial, scenographic and decorative arts (such as the history of costume, the jewelry design, the stage props), the broader publishing industry (reconstructing the relationship between the publisher and artists of all kinds), and the theatre world. The collection allows scholars to trace the personal and professional lives of many composers, beginning with their first operas, for example Oberto Conte di San Bonifacio by Verdi and Le Villi by Puccini, until their last masterpieces like Verdi’s Falstaff and the unfinished Turandot by Puccini.

The extraordinary importance of the Archive resides in the variety of documents it preserves, which offer a broad panoramic vision of the culture, industry and society over the course of two centuries of Italian history. In the Archive, housed in the Braidense National Library in Milan, are preserved around 8.000 scores, more than 16.000 letters by musicians, librettists, singers and all manner of people connected to these arts, around 10.000 costume and set designs, more than 9.000 librettos, 6.000 historical photographs, and a large collection of Art Nouveau and Deco posters created by some of the main artists of the time.

The collection of manuscript letters – about 15.000 of them – covers the time from the beginning of the 19th century until the end of the 20th century. It consists of letters to Casa Ricordi by writers, singers and composers including Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Franz Liszt, Ottorino Respighi, Jules Massenet, Alfredo Casella and Luigi Nono; the librettists Luigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa and Arrigo Boito; the poet Gabriele d’Annunzio; and the singers Teresa Stolz, Maria Waldmann and Victor Maurel. There are also extensive further inventories from the 20th century, both manuscript and typewritten: letters by Gian Francesco Malipiero (1942-1954), Ildebrando Pizzetti (1942-1956), Vieri Tosatti (1949-1960) and Mario Zafred (1950-1956), letters from Tito I and Giulio, and numerous letters associated with specific works.


Project Team

  • Pierluigi Ledda (Managing Director – Archivio Storico Ricordi)
  • Patrizia Rebulla (Project Manager – Archivio Storico Ricordi)
  • Valeria Luti (Cataloguer and Database Administrator – Archiuvio Storico Ricrodi)
  • George-Andrei Ionita (Developer – The Digital Humanities Institute)
  • Jamie McLaughlin (Developer – The Digital Humanities Institute)