Music from Stams Abbey

The music archive of Stams Abbey is the musical treasure trove of Tyrol. The collection contains several thousand music manuscripts and music prints that have fortunately been preserved in the abbey in spite of repeated threats to their survival. The significance of this archive, which extends beyond music research of a local nature, lies above all in the fact that an enormous number of sources is found here for the transitional period between the Baroque and Classical musical eras in the second half of the 18th century. The musicologist Hildegard Herrmann-Schneider has indexed this impressive collection in a meticulous way and made it accessible through RISM ( Thus, Manfred Schneider has been able to offer to the public a large number of these compositions in the form of concerts with accompanying CDs in the course of his project to create an acoustical survey of Tyrol’s music history.

This DVD contains all of the activities in this regard – 26 CDs in all – that have been produced since 1994 in the series Musik aus Stift Stams (Music from Stams Abbey), as well as further editions of the CD-series Klingende Kostbarkeiten aus Tirol (Musical Treasures from Tyrol). This series also involved music from Stams Abbey. High points were the live recordings of the first performances of all the symphonies of Jan Zach (1713-1773) that are preserved at Stams. These show him to have been one of the important trailblazers of the Classical symphony. Another highpoint was the discovery of the composer Johann Elias de Sylva as the first symphonist in Tyrol. A stunning event was surely the world premiere of the so-called Kindersinfonie (Children’s Symphony) – now proven to be a work from Stams Abbey by the Benedictine Father Edmund Angerer (1740-1794). Also standing in close connection with this monastery was Johann Michael Malzat (1749-1787), whose numerous works with verifiable origins at Stams have now been almost completely made accessible acoustically through this DVD. A special focal point of our voyage of discovery was naturally directed to the house composer at Stams, Stefan Paluselli OCist (1748-1805). His innovative and consistently exquisite compositions in both the sacred and secular realms form as it were the soul of the whole enterprise.

Through this DVD the music archive at Stams has been brought to life by means of important examples revealing its multi-facetted monastical music life. Over the course of many years, a rich body of works has been assembled here with acoustical reminiscences of former lively musical practices, and it is hoped that this will appeal not only to the music lover, but also provide the music researcher with a foundation of inspiring source material.

Cover Illustration:Angel concert. Detail of the ceiling fresco by Franz Michael Hueber (1729), Stams Abbey, Prelature.
Photo: Hildegard Herrmann-Schneider (2015)