Among experts, the Santini-Sammlung – including ca. 20000 pieces in ca. 4500 manuscripts and ca. 1200 prints – is one of the most extensive and precious sources of Italian music of the 16th – 19th centuries. It consists mostly of sacred music; about one quarter of the inventory is profane musice, while there is only a few instrumental music. In addition it contains several prints concerning the theory of music.
The Santini-Sammlung was collected by the Roman priest and musician Abate Fortunato Santini (1777 – 1861), who enjoyed a musical training during his childhood in an orphanage (a.o. by Giuseppe Jannacconi), which he continued while studying and after his ordination. Patronized by Cardinal Odescalchi, he was given access to archives of church and aristocracy, where he copied numerous manuscripts and prints or created scores from voice parts (the last copies werde made in 1856). He also inherited the music library from Jannacconi. This way very quickly a remarkable collection was formed. In 1820 Santini edited his first catalogue (ca. 2000 title entries) and thus grew famous also abroad. As a result of exchanging manuscripts and prints with foreign musicians pieces of music from England, Germany, France ... became part of the collection.
In 1853 Bernhard Quante, a young clergyman and musicologist from Münster, visited Rome and Santini. On Quante‘s initiative Santini sold his collection to the Bistum Münster on condition that it remained in Rome until his death. The collection arrived in Münster in 1862 and rested there totally forgotten for almost 40 years.
Then Edward Dent who was looking for informations about Alessandro Scarlatti visited the collection and described the desolated state of it in an article. After that Joseph Killing began to examine and to catalogue the inventory for his dissertation "Kirchenmusikalische Schätze der Bibliothek des Abbate Fortunato Santini" (1908), but due to his early death the catalogue remained uncomplete.
In 1923 the collection became a loan to the Universitätsbibliothek Münster for 25 years. The Faculty of Music and mostly Karl Gustav Fellerer worked for its cataloging and evaluation. Since 1931 he published an alphabetical catalogue of the sacred music in the "Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch". After the ban on the journal by the Nazis in 1938 it remained unfinished, too.
The complete card index of the Universitätsbibliothek was destroyed in 1943. The collection itself, which was evacuated during the war, returned in good state; but as a result of a flood in 1946 (ca. 5% of the inventory were overflowed) numerous important manuscripts (for example of Palestrina and Pergolesi) were extremely damaged.
After the end of the loan in 1948 the Bistum Münster retained the collection and disposed it in the Diözesanarchiv. There Wilhelm Wörmann, lecturer at the Kirchenmusikschule, published an alphabetical catalogue, which is – revised meanwhile – the basic information source until today. Now the inventory is listed also in the international source lexicon RISM "Répertoire International des Sources Musicales" and therefore is accessible via CD-ROM or via World Wide Web. In 1958 the collection moved to the Bibliothek des Priesterseminars, which is the Diözesanbibliothek of today. Now the first steps for conservation and restauration were made; a.o. nearly the complete inventory was filmed on microfiches in 1985.
The Santini-Sammlung is accessible – free of charge at the moment – during the business hours of the Diözesanbibliothek (instructions for the use of manuscripts and rare prints in the Diözesanbibliothek). Due to the personnel situation it is necessary to ring up for announcement (tel. 0251/495-6380). Moreover microfiche copies of the manuscripts and prints can be ordered.