Bertelsmann: Ricordi Archives in Milan make a collection of historical magazines available online

Press release | Gütersloh, 11/29/2021

Ricordi Archives in Milan make collection of historical magazines available online

  • Complete collection freely available on
  • The original 5,700 issues from 1842 to 1965 will soon also be available via the Wikisource online library.
  • Bertelsmann is gradually making all the key holdings of the leading archives on the history of Italian opera accessible digitally

Gütersloh, November 29, 2021 – During the digitization of thousands of original documents on the history of Italian opera, the Ricordi Archives, which belong to Bertelsmann, are now putting all of Casa Ricordi’s musical and cultural magazines online. The magazines tell the dazzling history of the Milanese cultural scene of the 19th and 20th centuries, strongly influenced by the Casa Ricordi publishing house for some 120 years.

This takes the process of digitizing the archives, which began in 2016 with the digital publication of some 13,500 historical costume designs, stage designs and portraits, and was extended in 2018 to include extensive business correspondence, in a new dimension. During this elaborate process, supported by the university community, all key funds are to be gradually transferred to the freely accessible Collezione Digitale of the Ricordi Archives, thus opening them to the general public.

The reviews published by Casa Ricordi – an archive collection unique in its comprehensiveness – today form an important part of the Ricordi archives and are housed in its premises in the Palazzo di Brera in Milan. Since 2019, the nearly 6,000 volumes of periodicals, with a combined total of over 65,000 pages, have been scanned in high resolution, converted to fully searchable texts using OCR text recognition technology and included in la Collezione Digitale ( / Periodicals).

Thanks to a cooperation with Wikimedia Italia, they will also be gradually uploaded to the free text and the Wikisource source collection, where the wiki community can refine the digitized data and improve it if necessary. As with the transcription of the collection of letters, the online community will once again have a crucial role to play: thanks to its support, the journals will become transparent historical sources, freely accessible, searchable with precision, indexed by keywords and linked to other Wikimedia resources such as the Wikipedia online encyclopedia. At the same time, errors in the automatic text recognition process are corrected.

Karin Schlautmann, Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications at Bertelsmann, says: “As owner of the Ricordi Archives, Bertelsmann feels responsible not only for preserving as best as possible the documents they contain, spanning 200 years of history. Italian opera, but also by making them accessible to a wide audience. We are now at an advanced stage of digitalization of the archives and we are particularly happy that our crowdsourcing projects have been so well received. The Digital Collection of the Ricordi Archives is already a real treasure for researchers and music lovers all over the world. “

Casa Ricordi magazines tell the story of one of the greatest music publishers of the 19th century and a unique cultural positioning: in addition to having a keen sense of musical trends, the Ricordi publishers also had an irrepressibly wit innovative in areas such as printed graphics. , design and advertising spanning several generations. Notably through their magazines, they have dominated Italian, and perhaps even European, musical discourse for decades.

Casa Ricordi’s first magazine, Gazzetta Musicale di Milano, debuted in 1842. This historic Italian weekly – one of the first to eclectically cover music, theatrical performances, politics and general news – has been published for sixty years. It has been joined over the years by many other periodicals, such as Rivista Minima (1871-1878), Musica e Musicisti (1902-1905), Ars et Labor (1906-1912), Musica d’Oggi (1919-1942 and 1958-1965) and Ricordiana (1951-1957).

Among the most fascinating contents are richly illustrated travel reports, news on the most important contemporary events, fashion reports from London and Paris, book reviews and biographies of famous artists. The music reviews were written by independent reviewers, who were mostly full of praise, but also didn’t shy away from scathing reviews. Some publications contained sheet music with commissioned chamber music works, collectibles such as art postcards and serial novels. Often, readers were invited to participate in raffles for valuable prizes such as a piano.

One of the most interesting aspects is the development over time of magazine ads for a wide range of products – from musical instruments and ceramic products, to steam heaters and services. galvanization. The advertisements became more and more sophisticated over the years and reflected an increasing openness of the cultural community, which also came with commercialization: Magazines were part of how Ricordi’s sheet music editions found their way. place in the homes of the middle class, thus opening up new target audiences. Then as today, creators and their publishers were involved in debates about copyright protection. When new works were advertised in magazines, precautionary warnings were issued against copyright infringement, and “piracy” of music publications was condemned in the strongest terms.

Magazines are also important contemporary documents for retracing the history of graphic design: they were designed and printed in the Officine Grafiche Ricordi, the publisher’s own design department, where famous illustrators such as Marcello Dudovich worked, Leopoldo Metlicovitz and Aleardo Terzi. Posters and covers of the musical editions of Casa Ricordi were also designed there. The works produced by Officine Grafiche are of remarkable beauty and originality.

The Ricordi Archives, which have been part of Bertelsmann since 1994, are considered one of the most valuable private music collections in the world. Its collections include approximately 7,800 original scores for more than 600 operas – including valuable original manuscripts by Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini – as well as some 10,000 booklets, approximately 6,000 historical photographs, numerous costume designs and comprehensive business correspondence. de la Casa Ricordi from 1888. to 1962. Bertelsmann creates a comprehensive index of archival documents and in many cases restores and digitizes them as well.

For many years the international media, services and education group has been involved in various cultural initiatives in Germany and abroad. The Group’s “Culture @ Bertelsmann” activities include exhibitions, readings and concerts, the literary format “Le Canapé Bleu”, as well as a commitment to the preservation of Europe’s cultural heritage – as in the case of the Archives Ricordi. A company with a long history in cinema, Bertelsmann also supports and sponsors the restoration, digitization and screening of great silent films.

For more information on the Ricordi archives: and

About Bertelsmann
Bertelsmann is a media, services and education company operating in approximately 50 countries around the world. It includes broadcaster RTL Group, trade book publisher Penguin Random House, magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr, music company BMG, service provider Arvato, Bertelsmann Printing Group, Bertelsmann Education Group and Bertelsmann Investments. , an international network of funds. The company has around 130,000 employees and generated sales of 17.3 billion euros in fiscal year 2020. Bertelsmann is synonymous with creativity and entrepreneurship. This combination promotes first-class multimedia content and innovative service solutions that inspire customers around the world. Bertelsmann aspires to achieve climate neutrality by 2030. In 2021, Bertelsmann commemorates the 100th birthday of Reinhard Mohn, founder of the Group after the war and long-time Chairman and CEO.

Recommend this page

To print


Bertelsmann SE & Co KGaA published this content on November 29, 2021 and is solely responsible for the information it contains. Distributed by Public, unedited and unmodified, on November 29, 2021 09:09:04 AM UTC.

Comments are closed.