Supporting the Preservation, Cataloguing and Enhancement of the Accademia Di Santa Cecilia Archives

Project location: ITALY, Rome
Project start date: June 2012 - Project end date: December 2012
Project number: 2012-071
Beneficiary: Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia - Fondazione



The project initially aimed to complete the process of reorganizing and cataloguing the analogue media in the Archives' collections that preserve classical music (concerts) and oral traditions in musical memory. Consequently, these recordings were digitized in both high resolution (Wave) for conservation and compressed format (MP3) for public access. About half of the material was already accessible online through the Multimedia Library portal; the objective was to catalogue and digitize those recordings which had not yet been studied and thus did not appear in any published catalogue or inventory, as they had been found when the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia moved from its original location to the new Auditorium.

The system that the Accademia developed for its Multimedia Library is based on the modern XML language, using the X-DAMS technology which is also used by other major Italian archives, including the Italian Chamber of Deputies. The Accademia's entire heritage of musical materials is described in nine databases, all based on the same platform, thanks to which the Accademia has been able to put most of its historical legacy online for study and consultation by the public.

The system is designed to offer useful tools for daily work in different Accademia sectors (for example, the complete concert chronology is available to the artistic management and the press office, the information protocol is linked directly to the historical archive, etc.).

The methodology used to catalogue and digitize the recordings adheres to national and international standards with respect to descriptions and digitization formats.

Regarding the criteria used for digitizing audiovisual material, thanks to the flexibility of the digital environment, copies of varying quality were produced for different uses: from 44.1 kHz/16 bit (the standard audio CD resolution) up to 96 kHz/24 bit, which allows for very high definition and thus is optimal for conservation purposes. The conservation format is uncompressed Wave; for public access, a high-quality compressed version is created in the MPEG 1 Layer 3 (Mp3) format. The audio metadata used conforms to the MAG schema defined by the ICCU - Istituto Centrale per il Catologo Unico (Central Institute of Unified Cataloguing) - and the ICBSA - Istituto Centrale per I Beni Sonori ed Audiovisivi (Central Institute for the Audio and Audiovisual Heritage).


Results achieved

Ethnomusicological sources - During 2012 the following Collections were catalogued and digitized; they are now accessible online in MP3 format (the first 40 seconds).

1) Collection Nos. 052, 089, 026, 136-I, 136-O, 136-L, 077 and 018. Each file in each Collection was carefully checked and positioned, matched to the corresponding descriptive record in the database. DAT tapes were converted to digital audio files in both Wave and MP3 formats.

2) 11 collections in the XDAMS Collection - Nos. 073, 078, 080, 090, 120-A, 120-C, 120-D, 120-E, 136-F, 136-M and 092-B) were completely catalogued. More specifically, 79 tapes and 11 DAT tapes were digitized, the audio data was checked, and 850 items were fully catalogued (by opening bars and subject), matched to the descriptive record in the database and converted from DAT tapes to digital audio files in both Wave and MP3 formats.

3) Digitization of 16 unpublished Collections:

- Collection by Diego Carpitella, San Severino Lucano, pilgrimage to Mount Pollino, (undated)

- Collection by Diego Carpitella, Vasanello, 20.4.1976

- Collection by Diego Carpitella, grape harvest festival, 1961, Brazil

- Sardinian folk traditions, 15.6.1966

- Collection by Constantin Brailoiu, Transylvanian Music, 1937-39

- Songs for the Holy Week, S. Stefano Quisquinia (AG), 10-27.7.1968

- Laitanè Collection, Songs for the Holy Week, Civita (CS) 12.8.1965

- Slovenian folk songs, (undated)

- Croatian folk songs, (undated)

- Polyphonic music from Georgia, (undated)

- Tunisian music, (undated)

- Jewish liturgical music from Yemen, (undated)

- Indian sacred music, Rig Veda, Sama Veda, 1968

- Japanese liturgical music, 15.9.1968

- Music from Pakistan, (undated)

- Egyptian music, Effat Aiad, 1969

- "Leo Levi. The man with the NAGRA" (1968).


Classical music sources - During 2012 the following sources were catalogued and digitized; for now, they can be accessed only at designated Multimedia Library audio workstations.

- 49 recent CD recordings of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra;

- 64 concerts from concert seasons between 1972 and 1985 were digitized, edited and catalogued - they had been recorded by Maestro Soldatini, first trumpet player in the Santa Cecilia Orchestra, and were donated to the Library by his son;

- 22 audio-video recordings from the 1994-1995, 2006-2007, 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 concert seasons were digitized, edited and catalogued;

- 170 audio recordings from the 1995-1996, 1996-1997, 2001-2002, 2002-2003, 2003-2004, 2004-2006 and 2005-2006 concert seasons were completely labeled and catalogued;

- 4 concerts from the 2007-2008 concert season were digitized, edited and catalogued;

- 49 concerts from the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 concert seasons were digitized, edited and catalogued;

- the audio recording of a roundtable dedicated to Karlheinz Stockhausen during the 1967-1968 concert season, and an interview with Hans Werner Henze were digitized, edited and catalogued.

The DIGITAL CATALOGUE of the recorded classical concerts and the ethnomusicology recordings in the Accademia Archives, as well as the first 40 seconds of digital versions of the ethnomusicology recordings, can be accessed online through the following address:, i.e. the OPAC of the Accademia Multimedia Library.


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