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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Russ 46.15

Zinaida Alexsandrovna Volkonskaia collection of music manuscripts


Personal collection of music of the Russian princess and amateur singer, containing full and vocal scores of entire operas, of arias and duets, and music albums of the Volkonsky family.


  • Creation: 1807-1847 and undated

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in French, Italian, and Russian.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


3.2 linear feet (15 volumes and 4 boxes)

The literary and musical papers were acquired from the Russian émigré and Roman collector Barone Basilio Lemmerman who had purchased them beween 1917 and 1966. This part of the collection, consisting mainly of operatic music from the first half of the 19th century, reflects Zinaida's repertoire and are the original scores from which she and her circle performed. Rossini's opera Tancredi and Cimarosa's Gli Orazi e i Curiazi, works in which she sang the leading role (Verona, 1815 and Rome, 1821), are included in full score, besides the single arias and also duets, her favorite genre in social appearances. Of her own compositions this collection includes the autograph 2nd act and arias of her opera Giovanna d'Arco (printed and first performed in Rome, 1821). Most manuscripts are written by professional copyists, and many disbound from earlier bound collections. Performance markings are mainly vocal embellishments and text alterations. Included also are four musical albums, including compositions of ZV's family. Together with their charming counterparts, the albums of poetry and drawings found in ZV's papers, they bear witness to the breadth of this family's and their friends' culture and talents.

Biographical / Historical

The Russian princess, Zinaida Volkonskaia, moved in political, literary, and musical circles during the first half of the 19th century, and counted among her close friends Alexander I, emperor of Russia, Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol, Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin, Victor Hugo, Stendhal, Gaetano Donizetti, Mikail Sergeevich Glinka, and Gioacchino Rossini. A highly gifted and multitalented artist with an excellent mezzo soprano, Zinaida was host of famous salons, both in her palace in Moscow and later in her villa in Rome, as well as being the featured artist in numerous appearances at private soirées throughout Europe. For further biographical information, see André Trofimoff, La princesse Zénaïde Wolkonsky (Rome, 1966), Maria Fairweather, The pilgrim princess. A life of princess Zinaida Volkonsky (London, 1999), and Bayara Aroutunova, Lives in letters : Princess Zinaida Volkonskaya and her correspondence (Columbus, Ohio, 1994). Aroutunova established ZV's birthdate as 1789.


Organized into the following series:

  1. I. Single compositions
  2. II. Single compositions by unidentified authors
  3. III. Copybooks and albums

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

*66M-201. Purchased from Barone Basilio Lemmerman, Rome, Italy, with the Kilgour Fund and the funds of the Friends of the Harvard College Library; received: 1967 Feb. 14.

Separated Materials

This collection was acquired with the literary papers of Zinaida Volkonskaia: fMS Russ 46 - 46.14, which also includes four small musical compositions by Fidele Bruni, Luigi Orsini, and Achille Tari (fMS Russ 46.8 , item nos. (22), (34), (58), and (65)).

Processing Information

Processed by: Barbara Wolff.

Processing Information

Please note that boxes and volumes are numbered in a sinlge, consecutive run (e.g. Box 1, Box 2, Volume 3, Box 4).

Volkonskaia, Zinaida Aleksandrovna, kniaginia, 1792-1862, collector. Zinaida Alexsandrovna Volkonskaia collection of music manuscripts: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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