Ludwig II and the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek


King Ludwig II (1845-1886) left his mark on the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in the form of a large number of diverse and noteworthy sources and materials ranging from the tenth to the nineteenth centuries.

Royal Gifts

King Ludwig II made many gifts to the library. They comprise sources from his private property, such as three autographs by William Penn (1644-1708), founder of the colony of Pennsylvania, by Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), one of the founding fathers of the United States, and finally by George Washington (1732-1799), their first president. The luxury edition of the murals by Karl von Spruner (1803-1892) at the Bayerische Nationalmuseum (Bavarian National Museum; today: Völkerkundemuseum/Ethnographic Museum) that had appeared with the publishing house of court photographer Joseph Albert (1825-1886) deserves particular mention. Among the numerous exemplars of sheet music excel the rare synagogue chants by Max Löwenstamm (1814-1881).

From the library of King Otto von Griechenland (1815-1867), son of King Ludwig I (1786-1868), who in 1832 had succeeded to the Greek throne and compiled an important book collection in Athens, Ludwig II made a bequest of important manuscripts, prints and sheet music to the Hof- und Staatsbibliothek (court and state library) – as it was the called officially. Of special importance is the oldest object, a Greek copy of the four Gospels dating to the tenth century and with a remarkable decoration. Manuscripts related to the Greek independence movement (including the royal copy of the Greek constitution dated to 1844), rare sheet music, for example by Laurenz Weiss (1810-1888) or Spyridon Xyndas (1812-1896) complete the picture.

Finally, King Ludwig II also bequeathed a few books from the collection of Eugène Beauharnais (1781-1824) to the library. Napoleon’s (1769-1821) stepson had wed in 1806 the Bavarian Princess Auguste Amalie (1788-1851) and had thereby become son-in-law of King Max I Joseph (1756-1825). He was considered one of the foremost collectors of books of his time. Since his outstanding library was auctioned off around 1930 and, therefore, scattered to the four winds, these few remaining volumes gained particular importance.

Sources on King Ludwig II

In the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek diverse sources on King Ludwig II and his milieu are still preserved. Among these, excel in particular the numerous letters written by the king himself. They are addressed to over 30 different people, including his brother Otto, his fiancée Duchess Sophie in Bayern as well as to artists and confidantes from his most intimate personal entourage.

The court and cabinet secretaries played an important role within the entourage of the king. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek preserves the personal documents of two of these, i.e. of Ludwig von Bürkel (1841-1903) and of Franz Seraph von Pfistermeister (1820-1912). The library also received a collar with medals, bestowed on Hofsekretär Bürkel, as a gift from the heirs.

The king’s interest in music and theatre has left important traces in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. The music department preserves the stage material for the separate royal performances. The numerous portraits of the king and of people from his most intimate circle come from the library’s portrait collection, which is preserved in the department of maps and pictures .

Spruner: Murals Depicting Pan-Bavarian History

Within King Maximilian II’s cultural politics, which emphasised the inner consolidation of a Bavarian "nation", the foundation and patronage of the Bayerische Nationalmuseum (Bavarian National Museum) took centre space. On the representatively decorated first floor of the Neubau (new building) by the architect Eduard von Riedel (1813-1885), inaugurated in 1867, the display did not consist of historical exhibits but of a cycle of 143 murals on patriotic history. The king himself had chosen the themes to be depicted.

Very likely still commissioned by the late Maximilian (d.1864), a detailed description of the cycle appeared in 1867. The author of the description, consciously kept very simple, was Karl Spruner von Merz (1803-1892). Apart from a slow military career, he had made a name for himself by means of historical cartography and other works. From 1855, he was aide-de-camp to King Maximilian II and, thus, one of his most important historical advisors. As such, he was deeply involved in the choice of themes and the creation of the frescoes. It is possible that the description is based on the briefing that Spruner had drawn up for the executing artist.

The work appeared in several editions, usually without illustrations. One exception is the luxury edition that had been published in 1868 at the publishing house of the court photographer Joseph Albert (1825-1886) in four volumes (landscape format, 26.5 x 35 cm), which accompanied the text by reproductions of the murals.

In the year of publication Ludwig II bequeathed a copy of this edition to the state library. The handwritten donation memorandum (volume 1, flyleaf) dated to 14 March 1868 bears the personal signature of the king.

Karl von Spruner
Die Wandbilder des Bayerischen National-Museums. Band 1: Altbayern I
München, 1868

Karl von Spruner
Die Wandbilder des Bayerischen National-Museums. Band 2: Altbayern II
München, 1868

Karl von Spruner
Die Wandbilder des Bayerischen National-Museums. Band 3: Pfalz
München, 1868

Karl von Spruner
Die Wandbilder des Bayerischen National-Museums. Band 4: Franken, Schwaben, das Vereinigte Königreich
München, 1868

Traditional Costumes from Lower Franconia

King Maximilian II’s attempts to "lift Bavarian national feeling" included an initiative regarding traditional dress. After several assessments (1852), on 4 March 1853 he decreed a whole package of measures aimed at the conservation and promotion of traditional country dress. These measures included the demand for the creation of a chart of traditional dress intended as model.

In reaction to this idea, the work presented here was executed. It was published on the 50th anniversary of the polytechnic association at Würzburg by its chairman, the entrepreneur and collector Leofrid Adelmann (1819-1884). The 18 hand-coloured lithographs are based on watercolours by Peter Geists (1816-1867) who had in part used older models. The collection, presented without comments, does not offer a survey over the traditional garments of Lower Franconia but limits its scope to single examples from the Rhön, from the Ochsenfurt district (up to the Taubergrund), from the Grabfeld as well as from the region around Schweinfurt.

The success of the enterprise was probably not very convincing, since after a second album with Central Franconian traditional dress was published in 1858, the work was discontinued. Perhaps it happened, since Adelmann was no longer chair of the association.

It is not clear how the album arrived among the royal possessions. The exemplar that the government of Lower Franconia sent to Maximilian II in 1856, was retained in the files. Perhaps it is the album that was handed over to the king during a visit to Würzburg in September 1858. The Schenkungs-Exlibris (donation book plate) of King Ludwig II bears no date. The lithographs were originally loose and were only bound into a simple brown cover made from carton after being handed over to the state library.

Leofried Adelmann

Bayerische Trachten. Bd. 1: Unterfranken
Würzburg, 1856

Four Gospels Dated to the Tenth Century (Tetraevangeliar)

The manuscript contains four gospels, which are preceded by the letter of Eusebios of Caesarea to Carpianus as well as by the Eusebian Canons. This apparatus presents the concordance of the Gospels developed by Eusebius in the fourth century and is designed in the form of twin arcades. Below the arches, the canon references are marked with information on the respective Gospels; between the columns are listed the numbers of the paragraphs. The architectural elements of the arcades are decorated with colourful braided ribbons, heart shaped palmettos and undulating tendrils. On the arches above the moulding, two birds flank a vase.

The canon tables are followed by a list of the lessons for the single days of the ecclesiastical year, in which the beginning and end of the respective Gospel text and a reference to the canon tables may be found. Each Gospel starts with a historiated initial with plant-form spirals, several lines in height, in gold and with a golden, redlined decorative gate. In these initials, diverse elements are incorporated such as birds, quatrefoil flowers, tendrils and heart shaped palmettos. In the space before each Gospel, a gold back image of the respective evangelist is glued (fols. 24v , 105v , 157v , 240v ).

Around 1080, the manuscript was newly bound by someone called Leon with a precious cover that no longer exists as is attested by a note on the reverse of fol. 301. The cover was later replaced by a simple Byzantine wooden binding.

Byzantinisches Reich, Ende des 10. Jh.
Pergament, 305 Bl., 22,4 x 17 cm
Cod.graec. 594

Constitution of Greece

Otto, son of King Ludwig I von Bayern, became king of Greece in 1832 and ruled his kingdom in accordance with the tenets of absolutism. This type of rule led to considerable resistance among the population so that he was forced to sign a constitution on 18 March 1844. The copy created for the king contains the signatures of the delegates, including that of the revolutionary and politician Rigas Palamidis (Rhēgas Palamēdēs, 1794–1872) as representative of Tripoli.

Verfassung von Griechenland
Athen, 1844
Papier, I, 18, Ι´ Bl., 39,0 x 26,0 cm
Cod.graec. 595

Weiss: Liturgia

Under the rule of King Otto I von Griechenland there were at first few musical activities at the seat of government in Athens, since there was no musical life to speak of until it was slowly developed after the western model from 1830. Nonetheless, the encounter of diverse musical cultures (of Byzantine liturgical chant, of vocal and instrumental folk music vs. lieder with piano accompaniment and orchestral works) as well as the attempt to bridge the gaps between these worlds left behind unique sources in the royal musical collection.

A group of printed sheet music with Greek-Orthodox ecclesiastical music in Otto’s musical collection contains homophonic harmonised Byzantine melodies set for piano accompaniment, which go back to the contemporaneous Viennese authors Gottfried Preyer and Benedikt Randhartinger. This contested musical style did not assert itself in Athens despite the direct dedication to Otto I. The manuscript score of the Liturgia by Laurenz Weiss is different in form and content. It contains Greek liturgical chants set to a capella scores and differs from this type of source. There is not direct dedication to Otto I preserved.

Liturgia componirt von Laurenz Weiss, Director der Sängerkapelle an der griechischen n. u. Kirche zur heilg: Dreifaltigkeit in Wien, […]
Kopistenabschrift. 4stimmiger Chor, Partitur.
30 Bl. [19. Jh.] 3538
Hellgrüner Samteinband mit Silberprägung und Silberschnitt, Moiré-Vorsatz. 32,5 x 26,5 cm

Xyndas: Asmata Hellenika

The 12 Asmata Hellenika created by Spyridon Xyndas and dedicated to Otto I belong to the most precious pieces from the Wittelsbach musical collection. Within the musical history of Greece, the virtuoso cithara player and composer Spyridon Xyndas (1812-1896) takes a key position as the first composer of an opera with original Greek libretto. The writers of the lyrics for the Greek Songs are not mentioned in the source. At least two songs, however, were written by the modern Greek poet Dionysios Solomos.

As a student of Mantzaros and Zingarelli, Xyndas contributed "with several romantic and patriotic songs to the development of a national musical aestheticism during the late nineteenth century" (Zotos); his works reached great popularity.

Spyridon Xindas (Xyndas): Asmata Hellenika (Griechische Lieder, vertont von Musikmeister Spyridon Xindas und respektvoll gewidmet seiner Majestät König Otto von Griechenland)
Kopistenabschrift. 1-3 Singstimmen und Klavier, Partitur.
26 Bl. [1856-1862] 3539
Grün-brauner Halbledereinband mit golden eingeprägtem Wappen Ottos I. von Griechenland.
23,5 x 32 cm