The Frédéric Louis Ritter Collection

About the Collection

The Frédéric Louis Ritter Collection consists of approximately 2,500 items and was bestowed upon Tufts College in 1901 by trustee Albert Metcalf to support the development of the Department of Music. The physical items are housed in the Special Collections at Tisch Library at Tufts University.

The Frédéric Louis Ritter Collection is not only the single largest named special collection at Tufts, it represents a sweeping overview of Western art music, containing works from the 16th to the 19th centuries on various areas of musical interest ― history, biography, theory, composition, and performance.

Frédéric Louis Ritter collected contemporary and historical scores, books, and periodicals throughout his entire life as a professional musician, composer, and author. He was appointed Professor of Music and the Director of the School of Music at Vassar College in 1867, where he served until his death in 1891. Metcalf acquired Ritter’s library shortly thereafter, and continued to add to the collection, particularly with scores of standard repertory, increasing its size from around 1,800 titles to about 2,500.

In 2002, the Berger Family Technology Transfer Endowment funded a grant, entitled “A Paradigm for Special Collections Access and Use” – intended to demonstrate how rare and unique materials can be made available for teaching and research via digital technology.

Find Items in this Collection

To view titles found in this collection, visit JumboSearch and search with the phrase "From the Frédéric Louis Ritter Collection." You can also view the list via this search link.

Collection Scope

The collection contains books, scores, and periodicals on areas of musical topics in Western art music, with coverage from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

Histories of music, include first or early editions from the 17th and 18th centuries, 19th-century views of earlier music, including Ritter’s own publications, and works on aesthetics and criticism. The collection features works of numerous English authors (including Thomas Morley to Dr. Charles Burney and Sir John Hawkins), early reference works of significance, including those of J.G. Walther (Musicalisches Lexicon, 1732), Brossard, Fetis, Forkel, Reimann, Mendel, and Grove. Additional titles include:

  • Wolfgang Caspar Printz, Historische Beschreibung der edelen Sing-und Kling-kunst (1690)
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg, Historische-kritische Beyträge zur Aufnahme der Musik (1754-1778)
  • Padre Martini, Storia della Musica (1757?)
  • Mme. F. de Bawr, Histoire de la Musique (1823)
  • August W. Ambros, Geschichte der Musik (1862)
  • Writings of Thomas Hastings, A.B. Marx, Franz Brendel

Historically important books on music theory, counterpoint, and composition by authors including Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg, Mattheson, Kirnberger, A.B. Marx, and François-Auguste Gevaert. Additional titles include:

  • Gioseffo Zarlino, Dimostrationi Harmoniche (1571) and Le Istitutione Harmoniche (1558)
  • Athanasius Kircher, Musurgia Universalis (1650)
  • Wolfgang Caspar Printz, Phrynis Mitilenaeus oder satyrischer Componist (1696)
  • William Holder, A Treatise of the Natural Grounds and Principals of Harmony (1701)
  • Andreas Werckmeister, Harmonologia Musica (1702)
  • Rameau, Generation Harmonique ou Traite de Musique (1737, and an English trans. from 1752)
  • D'Alembert, Elements de Musique (1772)

Periodical runs in English and foreign-languages from 18th-19th centuries compose a significant part of the collection, including:

  • Journal of Music (ed. by John Sullivan Dwight, Boston), 1852-1881
  • Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung und Register, Leipzig, 1798-1848
  • Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik (orig. ed. by R. Schumann), 1835-1889
  • Cecilia, Zeitschrift fur dem Muusikalische Welt, 1824
  • Regional German titles, such as Berliner Musik Zeitung (1824-30) and the Neue Berliner Musik Zeitung (1854-60), Bayreuther Blatter (1878-1882)
  • 19th century English titles such as the Musical Herald (Boston), Musical Record, Musical Review, Musical Standard, New York Music Review (1858) and New York Musical Pioneer (1855)

Scores across all periods, genres, and styles within Western art music, including sacred and secular, vocal and instrumental, concert and dramatic, including:

  • Alessandro Scarlatti, mss. copy of castrati arias from La Rosmene (ca. 1686)
  • Rameau, Hippolite et Arcadie (1733, with mss. additions from a contemporaneous performance)
  • Lassus, Selectissimae Cantiones (1568)
  • Lully, Thesee (1720, 2nd ed.)
  • Early editions of 18th-century composers, such as Handel, Haydn, Bach
  • First and early editions of 19th-century composers, Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Cherubini, Berlioz
  • First English editions of Corelli sonatas
  • Early collected editions of works of Carissimi, Corelli, Couperin, Palestrina
  • French opera (Le Moyne, Monsigny, Grétry, Méhul, Boieldieu)