Répertoire International des Sources Musicales

Arbeitsgruppe Deutschland e.V.

Arbeitsgruppe Deutschland e.V.

In memoriam Gertraut Haberkamp (29 January 1937 – 5 November 2023)

Thursday, November 30, 2023

On the same day as Dr. Harald Heckmann, long-time president of RISM, Dr. Gertraut Haberkamp, who stood for RISM’s work like few others and was also a leading authority on the sources of the Viennese Classics, passed away in Munich.

Gertraut Haberkamp was born in Bochum, the middle of five daughters in a family of doctors who were also music enthusiasts. While her school years partly fell prey to the war and its aftermath, she graduated from her local high school in 1956 and started studying at the University of Vienna the following year, choosing musicology as her main subject, and art history as a minor. Similar to many music-loving students in the Austrian capital, she spent her evenings in the standing room of the State Opera, where Herbert von Karajan made a lasting impression on her. After moving to the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, she swapped her other initial minor in newspaper studies – an interest that was to resurface in her later research – for Romance studies. Her brother-in-law, the director of the Spanish Cultural Institute, encouraged Haberkamp to write a dissertation on a topic related to Spanish Renaissance music. She was awarded her doctorate in 1964, and the thesis she published four years later with the title Secular music in Spain around 1500: The ‘Cancionero musical de Columbina’ of Seville and manuscripts outside of Spain has ever since been internationally acclaimed as a substantial contribution to a previously as good as uncharted field.

Her frequent presence in the music reading room of the Bavarian State Library during her doctoral studies caught the eye of Dr. Kurt Dorfmüller, then head of the music collection and supervisor of RISM’s (West) German working group, and so he hired her, much to the chagrin of her doctoral supervisor Thrasybulos Georgiades, who would have preferred to see her at a university. For the still young RISM Association, however, this was a stroke of luck, since Gertraut Haberkamp became the indefatigable driving force behind the Munich RISM office from her arrival on 14 September 1964 until her retirement on 20 January 2002. Adding the period 2003–2007, during which she still had work contracts, Haberkamp was active for a full 40 years. She traveled the country with unflagging enthusiasm – initially carrying with her the entire card catalog, and for a long time a typewriter – to identify, sort and catalog music collections at an almost unbelievable pace. The conditions for her work covered a vast spectrum from the “princely” treatment experienced in some aristocratic collections to the rather uneasy circumstances she had to put up with at certain small archives. Cataloging on the spot in particular required extensive knowledge and special skills, when no research aids were at hand. The result of these efforts were thousands of catalog cards for printed music, libretti and music manuscripts with which she fed the alphabetical and systematic catalog in the RISM office. One of her humorous instructions to the researchers using this catalog can still be seen there today: “Please don’t leave behind a battlefield.” The 1992 article she published in volume 20.2 of Bibliotheksforum Bayern (pp. 153–168), gives a most readable, matter-of-fact account of earlier cataloging procedures, at points also offering true-to-life and witty descriptions so characteristic of her.

From the 1970s, as the staff grew, Gertraut Haberkamp proved able to concentrate more and more on the hands-on management of the Munich office, and especially on the southern German holdings partly kept at important libraries, the descriptions of which came mostly to be published in the book series Kataloge Bayerischer Musiksammlungen. The most extensive collections included those of the Bischöfliche Zentralbibliothek, the Fürst-Thurn-und-Taxis-Hofbibliothek Regensburg, the Fürstlich Oettingen-Wallerstein’sche Bibliothek, the libraries of the Königliche Hofkapelle and the Elector Maria Anna in Munich, the Fürstlich Hohenlohe-Langenburg’sche Schloßbibliothek, as well as the archives of the Benediktinerabtei Ottobeuren and the Dommusik Passau.

Gertraut Haberkamp, 1974

Nevertheless, Haberkamp’s expertise with cataloging sources and her commitment to RISM (which she consistently pronounced in German as R-I-S-M) was only one side of her work. Standing “in the service of musical sources” (to quote the title of the Festschrift dedicated to her on her 65th birthday) was for Haberkamp not simply a pragmatic work program, but a mission to be fulfilled through a lifetime of scholarly work. In addition to reviews and essays on a range of topics, it was above all three large-scale projects that kept her busy for decades also in her spare time, and prompted her to visit countless libraries in major European cities. After turning down the honorable but unrealistic commission to compile the new Köchel Catalog, in 1986 she published a richly illustrated monograph on the first editions of works by Mozart – one of her favorite composers. What seems to us today to be a matter of course when dealing with printed music – namely, that every copy must be examined via autopsy to establish whether it is really identical to another – was comprehensively demonstrated for the first time in this volume. As another milestone, from 1992 to 2016 Haberkamp published in the journal Mozart-Studien 21 lists of historical advertisements and reviews of printed editions from diverse newspapers and magazines. And, restless even after retirement, she came to the aid of her former mentor and lifelong friend Kurt Dorfmüller by taking over his work on the revised catalog of Beethoven’s compositions, a new edition of which – based also on her seminal contributions – was published in 2014.

Music sources were Gertraut Haberkamp’s passion, and RISM provided the structure into which she could feed the results of this passion. Person and mission inseparably merged here. In 2018, when I was approached to assume the chairmanship of the German RISM Association, the images and sounds of the four years I spent together with Gertraut Haberkamp in one (large) room immediately came to mind. Not only did she teach me a lot, but above all she conveyed the lifelong conviction that, although sources may not be everything for music and music history, without sources everything is nothing. And without the assiduous work of Gertraut Haberkamp, RISM Germany would not be what it is today: a true “data locomotive.” We will not forget her achievements, nor her sparkling personality.

Nicole Schwindt

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Category: In memoriam

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