Founded in 1980, Le Répertoire International de la Presse Musicale (RIPM) provides access to periodical literature dealing with music from 1760 to 1966. While the importance of this monumental documentary resource has long been recognized, RIPM represents the first effort to undertake and to coordinate retrospective periodical collection, indexing, access and dissemination on an international scale.
Specialized music journals — alone numbering more than 7,000 from ca. 1730 to 1966 — constitute an important, primary documentary resource. The musical press offers today's readers a unique, near-daily chronicle of music and musical life. Accounts of first and significant performances, contemporary critical perceptions, issues of aesthetics, musical politics, performance practice, reception history and much more are found throughout the journals. Iconography — includes representations of composers, performers, instruments, opera stagings, concert halls — appear throughout. Musical supplements to the journals appear with many issues, representing a trove of unexplored repertory.
Yet in spite of their importance, two problems have prevented these journals from being systematically collected and examined: (1) the limited number of libraries possessing the journals, and (2) the difficulty encountered when one attempts to locate specific information within an available source. RIPM's mission is to provide solutions to these long vexing issues.
These three-part publications consist of highly annotated calendars, extensive keyword-in-context/author indexes and introductory studies. Three-hundred and eighteen volumes treating over 105 music periodicals were published.
RIPM Retrospective Index was released online in 2000 and today its content has surpassed 1,000,000 annotated records. It is updated every six months and contains indexes to complete runs of more than 400 music periodicals.
If the dream of the 1980s and 1990s was to bring to light the contents of an immensely important and complex corpus of literature, today it is, understandably, to bring the literature itself to one’s desktop or device, in a coherent, accessible format and with the speed of a mouse click. Thus, after many years of preparation for the immense task of digitizing and placing online the vast majority of journals indexed by RIPM, the RIPM Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals with Full-Text (formerly RIPM Online Archive) was released in May 2009. Today, it contains nearly 300 full-text periodicals, accessed through the RIPM Retrospective Index.
Released in January 2018, the RIPM Preservation Series: European and North American Music Periodicals is the first database collection in a new series. It contains 146 rare, full-text journals comprising nearly a million pages. The periodicals in the collection deal extensively with musical life in the United States as well as in Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Spain and the U.K.—; the collection includes many monumental journals each with publication runs of more than forty years.
RIPM Jazz Periodicals is a collaboration with the Institute of Jazz Studies of Rutgers University which houses the largest collection of jazz periodicals in the world. Released in May 2019, RIPM Jazz contains 125 rare periodicals from the United States. Future updates will include additional periodicals from the United States and Europe. See ripmjazz.org for more information.