The “Bohn Fragment Collection” of the Stadtbibliothek Trier.


Partner Project

Full Title: The “Bohn Fragment Collection” of the Stadtbibliothek Trier. An important corpus of sources for the history of Gregorian chant

Partner Institution: Stadtbibliothek Trier

Contact Person: Prof. Dr. Michael Embach

Project Manager: Sabine Philippi, M.A.

The Stadtbibliothek Trier possess an important collection of sources for the history of Gregorian chant: roughly 120 pieces of original fragments of parchment manuscripts, most from the eleventh to the fourteenth century. Many fragments survive in two or leaves.

Peter Bohn (1833-1925), a teacher at the Trier Gymnasium and music researcher, assembled the collection that carries his name. It consists of manuscripts or fragments that came from Trier-area monasteries that were dissolved in course of secularization. Moreover, it cannot be ruled out that Bohn acquired part of his collection from the Stadtbibliothek’s own holdings. Bohn inventoried the entire corpus and at the completion of his research, he gave it (or gave it back) to the Stadtbibliothek. He also gave to the Stadtbibliothek the so-called “Codex Bohn” (Hs 2254/2197 8°), a collection of material that he compiled on the so-called “Trier Choral Controversy” (Hs 2379/2319 4°), along with his complete research library.

Bohn used all these documents in the research debate on the restoration of the authentic Gregorian chant, a debate that raged at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Along with Heinrich Oberhoffer (1824-1885), Michael Hermesdorff (1833-1885), and Peter Wagner (1865-1931), Bohn was one of the most important Trier-area chant researchers involved in this debate. In a protracted dispute, particularly with the Regensburg School around Franz Xaver Haberl (1840-1910), the Trier scholars worked to establish a new edition of the chorale books. In fact, the “Editio Vaticana”, which Pius X approved by a papal motu proprio, replaced the historical inaccurate “Editio Medicaea” as the text of reference. Thus Bohn and his colleagues achieved their goal: to reconstruct from historical sources the authentic version of the Gregorian chant as used in the Middle Ages.

The “Bohn Collection” represents, so to speak, the historical research tools that the Trier scholars applied to the task. Bohn directed his activities towards the world-leading Gregorian centers, such as the Abbey of Solesmes, with Dom Joseph Pothier (1835-1923) at the top. Alongside the important manuscripts from St. Gall, early neumed manuscripts from the Treir area were now used to advance the study of Gregorian Chant. With its extensive collection of surviving manuscripts, the “Bohn Collection” delivered an import source base upon which research could be confirmed empirically.

The inclusion of the Trier collection in Fragmentarium was generously supported by the City of Trier by providing special funds. We would like to express our sincere thanks to Thomas Schmitt, head of the culture department. It is hoped that the presentation of the collection on the internet will give new impulse to international research on Gregorian Studies.

Literature: Michael Embach und Martin Möller, “Die „Sammlung Bohn“. Ein bedeutender Quellenfundus zur Geschichte des gregorianischen Chorals in der Stadtbibliothek Trier”, Kurtrierisches Jahrbuch 59 (2019), 313–357.

Stadtbibliothek Trier
Weberbach 25
54290 Trier (Germany)
Tel.: +49/(0)651/718-1429  

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