"The monks praise and glorify their God: songs and chants are created along the way which are simply beautiful and stand the test of time” Abbot em. Dr. Burkhard Ellegast OSB
While relatively little is known about the practicing of music in Melk abbey before 1700, a rich musical life blossomed, especially in the second half of the 18th century. Numerous works were performed: not only church music as part of the liturgy, but also new arrangements of operas for string quartets, oratories or small musical comedies as school productions. The necessary scores were mostly preserved and form the basis of the music archive.
In addition to that, numerous Benedictine monks from Melk were composers and maintained good contacts with the music scene of the Viennese Classic and later the Biedermeier. Often they collected sheet music and further contributed to the archive. Among them were P. Robert Kimmerling (1737-1799) who studied composition under Joseph Haydn, or Abbé Maximilian Stadler (1748-1833) who was acquainted with Mozart and later became a welcome guest in different musical circles in Vienna during the Biedermeier era. An extremely interesting addition to the collection was the estate of P. Robert Stipa (1785-1850) who copied cadences of Beethoven’s handwriting and whose collection of several hundreds of compositions have survived nearly intact in the music archive.
Today Melk abbey’s music archive includes about 10.000 objects, among them roughly 4.000 manuscripts and over 50 musical instruments.