The Benedictine Abbey of Irsee (Monasterium Ursinium) was founded near Kaufbeuren in the Allgäu region of Bavaria in 1182. Its history consists of alternating periods of cultural flowering and warlike destruction (the German Peasants’ War, The Thirty Years’ War, and The War of Bavarian Succession). Interim periods saw the imperial abbey rise time and again like a phoenix from the ashes. Scholarly research into the Age of Enlightenment substantiates this, as can be seen in the musical life surrounding the abbey’s famous prior → Meinrad Spieß (1683-1761) and the baroque organ, completed by → Balthasar Freiwiß in 1754. Yet even in the Renaissance period that preceded it by two centuries, this rather secluded monastery produced sacred music of truly remarkable quality.
March 21, 2014 marked the 400th anniversary of the High Feast of St. Benedict, which was celebrated at Irsee in 1614. In honor of this occasion, studio XVII augsburg and the Swabian Educational Centre at Irsee are publishing a series of musical scores, “Music of the Renaissance,” through Edition Ursin. It contains music composed at the Irsee Monastery during the rule of Carolus Andreae (1612–1627).
We are grateful to the Bavarian State Library [Bayerische Staatsbibliothek] in Munich, the Main Diocesan Library [Bischöfliche Zentralbibliothek] in Regensburg, the Augsburg City and State Library [Staats- und Stadtbibliothek Augsburg], and the Passau State Library [Staatliche Bibliothek Passau], for their support in providing access to historical source materials.