Welcome to the Meta-Index of Musicians in Europe

Not in NGrove? Not in MGG? Try MIME!

The multiplication of online databases has to do with the fragmentation of research funding at national level. Each project tends to generate a database, which then dawns and, in the worst case, expires or is technically obsolete at the end of the funding period. There is therefore a need for a central hub for biographical research on European musicians of the past. Such a hub would be equally beneficial for the usability of the databases, for networking among researchers and not least for the long-term preservation of the data. The "Meta-Index of Musicians in Europe" (MIME) arises from these needs. MIME is a meta search interface between several biographical databases of musicians, mostly not mentioned in current reference works.


The idea for MIME was born out of the development of several biographical databases. The software used to publish the biographical database is based on that developed for the Musico Napolitano project (http://musiconapolitano.hkb.bfh.ch/). The database "Musico Napolitano" was created under the direction of Angela Fiore at the University of Fribourg and was financed by the local pool de recherche 2014-2015.

Within the SNSF project "Integrative Listening" (No. 169368, 2017-2020, http://www.hkb-interpretation.ch/index.php?id=445, http://p3.snf.ch/project-169368), historical documents are used to collect data on teachers and learners of German-speaking Swiss music (higher) schools from 1860-1914. The question of how such information could be published and made available to the research community arose early on. A publication on paper of such data is not suitable. The online database "MusikerIndex" (http://musikerindex.hkb.bfh.ch) was created 2018.

Similar efforts to create biographical databases are being made in Paris (prosopographical database of students at the Conservatoire), at the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen (biographical encyclopedia of European instrumentalists of the 18th and 19th centuries), in Bloomington (musicians and institutions in Venice around Giovanni Legrenzi). Angela Fiore, the initiator of "Musico Napolitano", is today working on a similar Digital Humanities project with the musicians at the Este court in Modena (under the direction of Elena Fumagalli, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia). Older examples include the MUSEFREM database, an instant recording of the profession of church musician in France in 1790, and the Musici database, a database on the activities of foreign musicians* in Rome, Venice and Naples between 1650 and 1750.

The responsible researchers for three related projects in Paris (https://hemef.hypotheses.org/outils-scientifiques/base-de-donnees-des-eleves-du-conservatoire), Bremen (http://sophie-drinker-institut.de/lexikon) and Clermont (http://philidor.cmbv.fr/Publications/Bases-prosopographiques/MUSEFREM-Base-de-donnees-prosopographique-des-musiciens-d-Eglise-en-1790) have already accepted to contribute their data to MIME.

It is well known that different databases cannot 'talk' to each other without further ado. An agreement with the third parties involved regulates a one-off or regular export (to XML or another format) of information from other databases. The data is structured by predefined fields (minimum information such as name, date, location). Similar to Google searches, the results are displayed as a list of links that refer back to the user interfaces of the individual databases. All tools required for software development are open source. The software code required for MIME is also published on GitHub with an open source license.

Credits and Contact

The responsible persons for the coordination of the search platform are Claudio Bacciagaluppi (Bern University of the Arts) and Angela Fiore (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia). The technical implementation is carried out by Rodolfo Zitellini (RISM Switzerland).

The online platform was financed by a contribution from HKB-Forschung. We are very grateful to Martin Skamletz and Thomas Gartmann for this.

(after "Mime and the infant Siegfried" by Arthur Rackham, in Richard Wagner, Siegfried & The Twilight of the Gods, transl. by Margaret Armour, London: William Heinemann, 1911)

Please contact us for feedback or information: mime AT hkb.bfh.ch