About the FTCO

About the FTCO Project

General Editor and Project Director: Alexander Silbiger (Music Department, Duke University, 2008–)

Associate Editor: Roseen Giles (Music Department, Duke University, 2019–)

Project Assistants: Jessica Wood (2009), Chiayu Hsu (2009), Roman Testroet (2010), Andrew Pester (2010-2011)

Technical Consultant and Web Developer: David Tremmel (Trinity Technology Services, Duke University)

And thanks to:

  • The Trustees and Administration of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for making this project possible;
  • Beth Eastlick, Associate Director, Foundation Relations, Duke University, for invaluable administrative assistance and advice during all phases of the project;
  • Dean Edward Gomes, Jr., Senior Associate Dean for Information Science and Technology, Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, Duke University, for technical support and advice;
  • Heidi W. Halstead, Music Department Business Manager, for administrative support;
  • Christine Jeanneret, who served as Contributing Editor during the creation of this database (2008-2011), and who provided many incipits of compositions and digital copies of sources;
  • The staff of many libraries for kind assistance during research visits, including Stefano Grilli, Biblioteca Comunale Benincasa, Ancona; Roberto Marchi, Museo internazionale e biblioteca della musica di Bologna; Biblioteca Casanatense, Rome; Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, Berlin; Uta Schaumberg, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich; The British Library, London; The Royal College of Music, London; Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague; Sarah Adams and Douglas Freundlich, Isham Memorial Library, Harvard Libraries; Loeb Music Library, Harvard Libraries; Houghton Library, Harvard Libraries; David Lasocki and Carla Williams, William & Gayle Cook Music Library of Indiana University, Bloomington, IN; Franz Gratl, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck; Carla Zecher, Newberry Library, Chicago; Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; and Dan Zager, Sibley Library of the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester;
  • Cosimo Prontera (Brindisi) for permission to examine the MS Prontera 1 in his personal collection and to transcribe incipits for inclusion in this catalogue;
  • Marcello Garofalo (New York City) for placing at our disposal a photocopy of the Garofalo MS and a transcription of the manuscript made by his father (Carlo Giorgio);
  • Benjamin Katz for permission to examine the Katz MS in his personal collection and to transcribe incipits for inclusion in this catalogue;
  • Frederick Hammond (Bard College) for the use of his engraved Frescobaldi portrait by Claude Mellan;
  • Eric Bianchi, Gary Boye, Etienne Darbellay, Dinko Fabris, Candida Felice, Bruce Gustafson, and Christopher Stembridge for providing unpublished material and helpful comments.


The FTCO Project

The FTCO provides free public access to a thematic catalogue and database of all the known works of Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643), including works of uncertain or mistaken attribution, along with all their early sources (up to approximately 1800), principal modern editions, and associated literature.

From the thematic catalogue appended by Kerll to his Modulatio organico (1686)

It is a work-in-progress, and may remain so for some time to come. We hope that with ongoing contributions and comments from the international musical and scholarly community, we will continue to improve the comprehensiveness, accuracy, and usefulness of the database.

The idea of compiling a thematic catalogue of the works of a composer is not a recent one. Johann Kaspar Kerll (1623-1695)––who at one time, mistakenly, was believed to have studied with Frescobaldi––appended the first few measures of each of his keyboard works to his Modulatio organica super Magnificat, published in 1686.

He hoped in this manner to establish his authorship for compositions that he had seen erroneously attributed to other composers. His concern appears justified: four toccatas whose beginnings are reproduced in the FTCO, survive in a manuscript in Bologna under Frescobaldi's name (see F 18.01S to F 18.04S)!

The earliest thematic catalogue of the works of Frescobaldi was compiled by the noted Austrian musician-scholar-collector Aloys Fuchs in 1838, and survives as an unpublished manuscript in the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek (see Berlin K556). Fuchs’s catalogue only includes the works from five of Frescobaldi’s Canonical Keyboard Publications (see Definitions): the two volumes of Toccate, the Capricci, the Recercari, and the Fiori musicali. These comprise only about a third of the compositions listed in the FTCO, although they undoubtedly represent the best-known––and some might also argue, the best––of his works.

Thematic catalogue of Frescobaldi's keyboard works compiled by Aloys Fuchs (1838).

Like Kerll, and like the FTCO for that matter, Fuchs does not merely present the opening themes (i.e., melodies), but provides the beginning measures in full score. (When the source is printed in four-part open score or partitura, he provides only the soprano and bass lines.) “Thematic catalogue” is in fact a misnomer for these catalogues. The concept of “theme,” so central to our understanding of the music of the later eighteenth century and beyond, is not really appropriate to Frescobaldi’s time. Many of his toccatas and partite do not open with distinctive themes, and require a full-voiced setting to establish their identity––and that is what is provided in the FTCO.

No other thematic catalogue of Frescobaldi’s work has appeared until now, although during the course of the twentieth century there was a growing awareness of the extent of his œuvre beyond the canonical keyboard publications, in particular, his vocal and instrumental ensemble works and––beginning in the 1960s thanks largely to the efforts of WiIli Apel––the large manuscript repertory. The continuing absence of a complete thematic catalogue at a time when such catalogues had become available for most western composers of some note––for the famous as well as the less famous––may be due to the uncertainty and controversy that surrounds many of the works to which Frescobaldi's name has been attached. The FTCO includes all those works, no matter how grave the doubts concerning their authenticity (or how certain the knowledge of their misattribution), but we do stigmatize the questioned or questionable works by noting their status as “doubtful,” "disputed," “spurious,” etc. (see also F numbers). It may well be that as the result of new research, we will be able to remove that stigma from some works, or, for that matter need to attach it to others. The ease with which we will be able to make such and other revisions is just one of the many advantages of presenting this catalogue in electronic form, along with the ease of doing complex, multi-parameter searches and its easy world-wide accessibility.

Browser and Platform Compatibility

The FTCO site has been tested and found to be compatible with recent versions of Chrome, Firefox, IE (Windows only), Opera, and Safari on both Mac and Windows platforms. It is not reliably compatible with IE 6.

How to cite the FTCO

We suggest the following format: Alexander Silbiger, Frescobaldi Thematic Catalogue Online <http://frescobaldi.music.duke.edu/>, accessed [date]. Since the information on the site will be updated regularly, we recommend including either the access date or the date of the most recent revision, which can be found on the lower left corner of every page. When citing a particular page, its address can be copied from the browser address window and substituted. For example, a citation to this page could read: Alexander Silbiger, "About the FTCO Project," Frescobaldi Thematic Catalogue Online <http://frescobaldi.music.duke.edu/about.php>, rev. 3/4/2011.

About the Project Director

Alexander Silbiger is Professor Emeritus and Former Music Department Chair at Duke University, Former President of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, and Founding Editor of the Web Library of Seventeenth-Century Music. His many publications include Italian Manuscript Sources of Seventeenth-Century Keyboard Music (1980); "The Roman Frescobaldi Tradition: 1640-1670," in JAMS 33 (1980); "From Madrigal to Toccata: Frescobaldi and the Seconda Prattica," in Critica Musica (1996); articles "Chaconne," "Passacaglia," and (with Frederick Hammond) “Frescobaldi,” in The New Grove (2001); "On Frescobaldi's Recreation of the Ciaccona and the Passacaglia," in The Keyboard in Baroque Europe (2003); "Fantasy and Craft: The Solo Instrumentalist," in The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Music (2005); and "Four Centuries of Frescobaldi Reception: How His Music Made Its Way through the World from His Time to Ours," in A Fresco: Mélanges offerts au Professeur Etienne Darbellay (2013). He served as Editor of Frescobaldi Studies (1987) and of Seventeenth-Century Keyboard Music: Sources Central to the Keyboard Art of the Baroque (28 vols., 1987-89).