“Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer”


Digitale Angebote, Musik
Postkarte Europeana Sounds
The Europeana Sounds project comes to an end, but is not over

Author: Zea Frana

For the last three years the Austrian National Library took part in the » Europeana Sounds Project, which aimed at bringing “Europe’s sound heritage at your fingertips” to everyone. Co-funded by the European Commission the project started in February 2014 and lasted until the end of January 2017.

The explicit goal was to make available over 500.000 sound recordings and 200.000 audio related objects along with their metadata through the online collection » Europeana.

Europeana Sounds Project Postcard
Image 1: Europeana Sounds Project Postcard

The selected sound recordings ranged from classical to traditional or folk music, to sound effects, to various environmental or wildlife sounds, to languages, accents and dialects and to oral narratives and recollections. The audio related material embraced sheet music, music manuscripts, correspondences and documents of composers, playbills, videos and pictures.  

24 partners from 12 European countries worked hard to accomplish this goal. The partners comprised for instance libraries, research and science centres and sound archives.

Within the Europeana Sounds Project the Austrian National Library acted as a content provider, contributing digital copies of musical manuscripts of its <link bibliothek/sammlungen/musik/>» music department</link> by composers from the 17th to the 19th century. The manuscripts were derived from » two different collections. On the one hand – the Tresorsammlung (Safe Inventory), which contains music manuscripts or personal documents of famous composers like Ludwig van Beethoven, » Johannes Brahms, » Anton Bruckner, » Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, » Hugo Wolf and many more. On the other hand - the Schlafkammerbibliothek (Bibliotheca Cubicularis or Bedroom Library) of emperor » Leopold I, which reflects musical life at the Austrian imperial court in the baroque period.

The beginning of “Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer” – Johannes Brahms Op. 105, No. 2 – arranged for orchestra by Max Reger
Image 2: The beginning of “Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer” – Johannes Brahms Op. 105, No. 2 – arranged for orchestra by Max Reger (» Mus.Hs.19662 Mus)

This content contains altogether 1691 digital objects which themselves consist of more than 150.000 individual pictures and can now also be seen on » Europeana.

Although the main goal was to make sound recordings and such available online, there were a lot of other things happening during these three years. Europeana Sounds staged various events. It organized two very successful conferences. The first was held at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in October 2015 in Paris and was called “» The future of historic sounds” and the second one was staged at the University of Vilnius in November of 2016 and called “» Unlocking sound collections”. Both conferences discussed project relevant themes and presented innovations concerning digitalising sounds.

Furthermore there were the so called (Re)Discovery Events, where five different partners had the opportunity to highlight parts of their collections, in presenting one or several unknown or star items and also arrange a listening of those items. One of those (Re)Discovery Events was held at the Austrian National Library and took place on the 2nd of June in the beautiful Palais Mollard. It was called “» Beethoven trifft Liszt” (Beethoven meets Liszt) presenting music manuscripts by Beethoven and Liszt.

Impressions of the (Re)Discovery Event “Beethoven meets Liszt” that was staged at the Austrian National Library in June of 2016. (Photos by Angelika Leitner,
Image 3: Impressions of the (Re)Discovery Event “Beethoven meets Liszt” that was staged at the Austrian National Library in June of 2016. (Photos by Angelika Leitner, » CC BY-NC-SA)

Other events included Hack-a-thons, Share-a-thons or Wikipedia Edit-a-thons, in which e.g. sound files were used to enrich Wikipedia articles or were shared on various online platforms like » Soundcloud.  

A major innovation within the project was the development of the “» Music Collections”. It started in 2015 as the Music Channel, switched to the name “Music Collections” and its Beta Version in the beginning of 2016 and was officially released in November of 2016. The Europeana Sounds Project partners have taken turns curating it and introducing different themes to the audience. The Austrian National Library took over in October 2016 and had its focus on » music manuscripts and » Antonio Salieri.

Europeana Music Collections curated by the ANB - Screenshot October 2016

Image 4: » Europeana Music Collections curated by the ANB - Screenshot October 2016

Furthermore a Sounds Timeline and digital exhibitions such as the one about “Recording and playing machines through time” were created. The Europeana Radio which was launched by Europeana at the beginning of this year would not have been possible to such an extent without the Europeana Sounds Project.

The technical innovations were numerous and included the enrichment of metadata, most recently through e.g. the music instrument vocabulary » Mimo. This was accomplished through automatic enrichments and also several » Crowdsourcing campaigns, which were held in June and December of 2016 and January of 2017. The last campaign was focusing on » tagging music genres on the Europeana Radio.

Now we are looking back on three very exciting years, in which a lot of goals were achieved and the wonderful musical manuscripts of the music department were re-introduced in its digital form on Europeana to a vast online community.

But the work continues - Europeana Sounds is trying to uphold its sustainability with partners continuing curating the Music Collections after the official end of the project and with the » IASA Europeana Sounds Task force.

So this is not the end! Allez Culture et allons-y!


About the author: Zea Frana was a member of the project team "Europeana Sounds"

Dates concerning the research project

TitleEuropeana Sounds


EU Commission


February 2014 until January 2017

Project management

British Library

Project partners

The British Library, UK
Nederlands Institut voor Beeld en Geluid, NL
Kennisland, NL
Europeana, NL
Nationale Technische Universität Athen, GR
Bibliothèque nationale de France, FR
Austrian Institute of Technology, AT
Net7 Srl, IT
We Are What We Do Community Interest Company, UK
Centre national de la Recherche scientifique, FR
Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, DE
Music Library of Greece of the Friends of Music Society, GR
Instituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico delle bibliotheche italiane, IT
Irish Traditional Music Archive, IE
The Language Archive at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, NL
Latvijas Nacionālā bibliotēka, LV
Österreichische Mediathek, AT
Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, DE
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, UK
Statsbiblioteket, DK
Faculdade de Ciencias Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, PT
Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, IE

Project team at the ANL

Mag. Max Kaiser, Mag. Zea Frana