29. August 2009 - 07. July 2010


Opernhaus Zürich
Falkenstrasse 1
8008 Zürich

Opening hours

Die Ausstellungen der Zentralbibliothek im Foyer des Opernhauses Zürich werden jeweils eine Saison lang präsentiert. Sie sind während der Öffnungszeiten des Opernhauses frei zugänglich.

Anschliessend sind sie ein weiteres Jahr in der «Musikgalerie im Predigerchor» zu sehen. Die Exponate befinden sich dann im Treppenaufgang zum Lesesaal der Musikabteilung.

Illustrated covers of printed sheet music from 1830 to 1910

The Zentralbibliothek Zürich holds an extensive collection of sheet music from the era of Vienna’s “kings of the waltz”. The exhibition at the Zurich Opera House presents a selection of printed music scores featuring especially artistic cover designs.

Like books and music manuscripts, the first printed editions of sheet music were adorned with decorative covers. From 1850 onwards, small-scale publications began to appear with a cover page instead. Sheet music was thus one of the first printed products to provide full information about its contents at a glance in the form of words and pictures; publications were also displayed as small coloured posters in shop windows in order to attract attention. Early lithographed music scores were printed in monochrome, rather like engravings. In the second half of the 19th century, the increasing popularity of music for the home and growing competition between music publishers led to a vogue for coloured, lithographed title pages. While the printer’s name was normally printed on the title page, the artists often remained anonymous or hid behind a pseudonym to avoid tarnishing their artistic reputation through association with commercial printing.

Source: Udo Andersohn, Musiktitel aus dem Jugendstil, Dortmund, Harenberg, 1981

Exhibition concept: Angelika Salge