“Catalogue” refers to the numerical catalogue of the editions, published by Tito di Giovanni Ricordi in two volumes:
Volume I: published in 1857, it comprises the inventory numbers 1 to 29.840, and covers the years 1808-1857;
Volume II: published in 1874, the frontispiece is dated 1858, the date of the earliest supplement. Consisting in the assembly of the supplements to the catalogue released in a progressively numbered series beginning with number 29.841, the issues continue the numbering of the 1857 catalogue, and arrive at 43.025.
The printed numerical catalogue contains the numerical sequence of the acquired works and the information essential for their identification from the so-called “big books” (“Libroni”) of Ricordi, the handwritten registers in which the acquired pieces were listed. In addition, the prices of the works published by Ricordi, or at least available for sale, also are listed.
The dates added in the online version of the Ricordi Numerical Catalogue are obtained from various sources, as specified by the letter accompanying the number:
T - Date in the form of an impressed and raised seal (“timbro”) Date in the form of an impressed and raised seal (“timbro”) stamped on the sample deposited for publication rights. Many publications also received an impressed and raised seal when sold, and so those dates differ from, and may be many years after, the date of publication;
C - Date of the censorship office. Date of the censorship office. The certain date of publication derived from the list of works deposited at the Censorship Office of Milan (1816-1848) and from the register of works published in Naples, which is deposited at the San Pietro a Majella Conservatory in Naples (1831-1875);
G - Date of the Gazzetta Musicale di Milano. This indicates the year and month of the appearance of the announcement of the publication;
H - Hofmeister Date. This indicates the year and month of the issue of Hofmeister Monatsberichte (1829-1900), in which a musical edition was listed; the date may be one to eight months after the publication date of the described edition, but is, nevertheless, a reliable date of publication;
P - Police Date. The date of registration at the Police Office of Milan, it is a certain date of publication;
R - Data Libroni. The inventory dates of the Casa Editrice Ricordi’s acquisitions.
Only in the printed volume, hyphens (—) precede the catalogue numbers that are not present in the lists of the censorship and police offices, and the numbers for dated libretti.
This term indicates the large handwritten books or registers in which Ricordi listed, with a progressive number, the works he acquired or had copied for sale in manuscript form, or for rent or publication, once the printing rights had been acquired.
As the works were published, the inventory numbers became the plate numbers.
For the works never published, foreign works, or those published by publishing houses acquired over time, the numbers of the numerical catalogue are only editorial numbers, and only rarely became plate numbers.
Of all the publications acquired from other editors, Ricordi might have had:
- copies of the original editions to which he added his name and catalogue numbers on the frontispieces and/or at the bottoms of the first pages of music;
- the music sheets published using the original plates bearing the original editors’ plate numbers, to which he added only newly printed frontispieces;
- the original plates from which he reproduced copies, changing only the plate numbers, to sell the copies on request;
- his reprints of the editions for which the catalogue numbers also became the plate numbers;
- newly printed copies of the works with their new catalogue numbers also functioning as their plate numbers.