On the occasion of “Haydn-Year 2009”

The Making of the Facsimile

 “Gott! erhalte Franz den Kaiser”


Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt

English Version prepared by OMI - Old Manuscripts & Incunabula, New York


Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA), the largest facsimile publisher in the world, issued in 2008 for the 200th anniversary of Haydn's death, a new facsimile of the autograph of “Gott! erhalte Franz den Kaiser”.  This beautiful hymn has been the Austrian national anthem for 140 years (with one interruption); it also serves as the anthem of the Federal Republic of Germany.  The publisher's goal was to produce the most accurate and faithful edition possible.

The autograph—with shelf number Mus. Hs. 16.501— is preserved in the Music Collection of the Austrian National Library in Vienna in a high security vault.  ADEVA had already produced a fine monochrome facsimile edition of it in 1982.  ADEVA's new  reproduction of the manuscript, besides being in color (naturally many of the nuances of the original are lost in a monochrome reproduction), takes advantage of today's technology in computer software and the photo-offset printing process.

Manuscript Mus. Hs. 16.501 is a "composite" source, comprised of:

  — the harmonized melody (in a version different from the final version)
  — the harmonized melody in its final form
  — fair copy of the harmonized melody, signed by Haydn (see above)
  — full score for unison chorus and orchestra
  — the four variations on the tune from the second movement of String Quartet Hob III: 77
  — first edition of the Hymn from 1797.


This article documents the production of ADEVA's new 4-color facsimile of Haydn's "Gott! erhalte den Kaiser", allowing professionals and  music enthusiasts alike to see the various stages involved in the making of a fine facsimile.

It starts with the binding of the 1982 edition.  This exemplar serves as a convenient point of departure.  Normally one does not have at one’s disposal a working copy that conforms so nicely to the original in terms of format and appearance, a “guinea pig” so to speak, that can be scribbled on.

The binding or coverboards of the 1982 facsimile was not a true facsimile; it was “beautified”, i.e., the red label was printed (not pasted on like the original), the decorative frame was executed in gold (it is black in the original) and there was no attempt to recreate signs of wear (e.g., scrapes, peeling gold, or rubbing).  The result was a careful but sanitized binding, done in the style of many fine press books of the 1980s.  The notes on the cover are a list of corrections.

The photo below is what the new facsimile will look like; already it has been faithfully reproduced in the book binding department, including the ownership stamp (upper left), the red title (pasted as a label), and signs of wear.  Although one would always be able to differentiate the facsimile from the original, it might not be easy at first glance.  Taking this “faithful" approach to facsimile reproduction is a challenge; it can also be an expensive undertaking.


ADEVA is located in Graz and  the manuscript of  "Gott! erhalte" is perserved in Vienna, about 200 km to the north.  After a significant amount of long-distance work conducted with Dr. Thomas Leibnitz,  director of the Music Collection of the Austrian National Library, the ADEVA team finally reached the point when it was necessary to drive to Vienna—with micro-buses loaded with camera, collapsed equipment, black lacquered aluminum poles, vacuum cleaner, lighting equipment, a traveling computer—for the digitalization of the autograph.

Here follows the first photos showing the installation of the equipment in the Austrian National Library.  The design was developed by Manfred Mayer from the University Library of Graz.

The digitalization is the responsibility of Karl Persling.  After his decades long experience with different reproduction techniques (in part an art now lost), he is considered a master in this field.  His job now is to quickly unpack and assemble the various mechanical and electrical parts.


The aluminum framework is assembled together with its electrical parts.  The fire extinguisher in the background is a precaution in the event of fire from the heat of the light sources.


The camera framework is designed so that the lens and digital camera can be moved back and forth electrically on a track.


This is the part of the framework that accepts the camera.

It must be set up perfectly...

with the aid of  a carpenter’s level.

The digital camera—the jewel of the unit—is now in place; its incredible technical virtues need no introduction and its important assignment now is to digitalize the manuscript of the hymn “Gott! erhalte Franz den Kaiser”.

Depending on the autograph to be digitalized, there are different photographic tables that can be mounted. 
For medieval codices that are hard to open, a special “cradle” is  attached to support the valuable object without causing any damage.  For Haydn’s “Gott! erhalte”, which lays open easily, a flat table (right photo) is used.

Lighting:  Piece by piece the heaviest member of the photographic equipment is assembled.  Only two light sources are necessary for this job.  The lamps produce cold light (2,700 lux) and illuminate the photographic object for only a couple of seconds per exposure.  After this short exposure the shutters close so that the object is not subjected to unnecessary light or heat.

n.b.  Many scanners used in libraries, depending upon their size, subject the original to 2 to 5 minutes of light with an intensity of around 15,000 lux.


Both light sources get wired and are ready for action.  Various electronic devices are implanted.  All metal parts are usually finished in dark gray so they don’t create any phantom lighting effects.

Surrounded by dark gray equipment Karl Perstling keeps his eye on the white traveling computer, the brain of the system.

The cables are laid out, the distance between camera and photographic bed adjusted
and finally the light source is tested.  The shutters which direct the light are operational.

The system is up but not quite ready for shooting.  Now the illumination on the photographic table must be measured and perfectly adjusted.

Under the color scale–just faintly visible here–is an opening of the 1982 facsimile edition.  Being the same size as the original it is very useful for making initial adjustments in advance of the real shooting.

Additional calibrations and comparisons.  The screen shows a test photo of a page from the 1982 facsimile edition.

The digitalization process which lasted until evening has not been photographed.  When it was completed the equipment was disassembled and packed up into Adeva’s micro-bus for its return to Graz.



Back again in Graz.  A maquette (prototype) is made following the size and format of the original.  All the pages are cut exactly as the original with its irregular borders.

The exercise of making the maquette is very helpful for addresing issues that would impact the project at a later time.  The original paper size needed very careful analysis and preparation.  Also, it was imperative that the recto and versus sides of a bifolio line up perfectly.  Equally important was the placement of pages of different sizes and the fact that the individual sheets had to be composed so that they were faithful to the original.  Here are all the pages of the maquette laid out on a table.

[trans. note: For projects where color and accuracy are critical to the piece, the making of “proofs”—printed test pages to compare against the original—is very important.  There are different types of proofs, “soft proofs”, “digital proofs” and “wet” or “press proofs”.]

In order to obtain absolute color fidelity vis-à-vis the original, several proofs are necessary.
The ADEVA team first starts by producing a full set of "first" proofs that need to be compared with the original in the Austrian National Library.  The first proof is always lacking in some respects.  Notes are taken and once again back in Graz, the computer data is entered;  a new set of proofs is prepared, which subsequently needs to be compared with the original.  This is repeated as often as necessary until all proofs pass the grade.

The paper itself should be, as much as possible, similar to the original.  In the case of "Gott! erhalte" an uncoated paper with natural finish and slight “laid” texture was selected; this data needs to be entered into the computer and "accounted for" in the software that produces the proofs (and eventually the printer plates).  Rough paper scares printers: the paper is “thirsty” and “sucks” in the ink; after it dries the colors may appear pale and unacceptable.  This all has to be compensated for in the digital stage.

Heinz Plevcak (Druckerei Print & Art Faksimile Graz) pulls out the very first sheets of the second proof from the Man Roland.  For projects where color and accuracy are critical to the piece, a “press proof” is the only one that accurately shows what the final print job will look like.  Press proofs are the most expensive proof alternative, but faithfully show how the paper will affect the colors, the folding, trimming, etc. of the project.  By carefully processing the data beforehand it’s possible to reduce the number of proofs.  

The second proof in full view.

Here problems with the first proof were corrected and the critical parts of all the pages recreated.

Ferdinand Piffer (Druckerei Print & Art Faksimile Graz) takes the second proof and physically checks whether the problems that he found in the first proof (noted on a reduced version of the first proof) are actually corrected in the second proof.

The sheets are meticulously checked to see if all shortcomings of the first proof have been addressed.  So that the errors are documented, notes are made on a reduced-sized proof.  These sheet proofs were then taken to Vienna and compared with the original.  There it was determined if additional corrections were necessary.  Finally after some additional tweaking the proofing stage was completed...

Proofing corrections are also essential for the coverboard artwork, as shown here.

The viewer should have a moment of hesitation at the first glance of the work:

"Is this an actual Haydn autograph?"

Here, back again in the Austrian National Library, the second proof is examined and compared from all sides with the original (in the middle of photo).  A few more corrections are necessary with the cover.  These indispensable changes are documented and noted on the second proof in shorthand expressions, for example, “2% less cyan”, etc.

Dr. Thomas Leibnitz (left), director of the Music Collection of the Austrian National Library,  collaborates too, carefully comparing the original volume against the second proof.  Beyond a few necessary color corrections he was satisfied with the results.

Ferdinand Piffer from the Druckerei Print & Art Faksimile Graz also inspects the second proof and consults his co-worker Bernadette Kunter regarding the necessary corrections.  Page by page they make their visual inspection and it is determined that the second proof is a little too reddish compared to the original, in particular the hue of the music notes need more brown.

Finally the correct gold leaf is selected, as there are different types to choose from: redish gold, greenish gold, satin finish, etc.  Gold leaf is produced on a machine and so that it doesn’t appear too new, too fresh, too brilliant, it undergoes a printing process in itself which leaves a patina or antique effect.  At lot has been accomplished so far yet there is still more work left: the final printing, the die cutting of the individual pages, and a visit to the book bindery.

The last color corrections are made on the title label (a separate print run).  The text and ornamental border will be printed additionally with gold leaf.  For this a special "negative" just for the gold is necessary (right photo).  And as mentioned above, because the original shows signs of wear, the gold leaf must be printed with a patina so that it doesn’t appear too fresh or shiny.  The goal should be that the user doesn’t realize until the third, fourth or even fifth glance whether it’s the original or not.

Shortly before going to press:  There are still a few color corrections to be made with the music notes.  They appeared slightly too brown and must receive some touching up.


In the press room.  For printers and publishing people this is a typical sight.  This modern commercial printing press manufactured by Man Roland will give Haydn’s famous opus another 1000 years of life.  As in the renaissance when antique manuscripts were copied by hand, translated and disseminated for the future, the same is achieved today with the help of modern technology.  The important cultural heritage of the last hundreds of years (even centuries) can be preserved for subsequent generations.

Another view of this magnificient offset printing press (from the manufacturer's archive), showing the delivery side.

The press is set up and adjusted.  A preliminary run through allows the pressman to fine tune the the individual parts of the unit, putting his mind to rest.  In the upper left photo: Mr. Kunter occupies himself with the first printing sheet he pulled from the press.  The three other photos: It gets serious, a discussion ensues.  The colors are calibrated and examined with a Zeiss magnifying glass and final adjustments are made, pretty much routine work for printers.

Again, constant color checking.  Now the second proof is compared with the actual print, to see if subtle color revisions first entered into the computer meet expectations.

This phase of production is a defining moment.  Corrections made at this stage are extremely expensive.  There’s a rush—the result comes with great anticipation.  Mr Piffer carefully locates the corresponding second proof, to lay it on the proper page on the newly printed sheet.  Color correction at this stage could produce a disastrous chain reaction effect: new corrections in the software, new printer plates, wasted time and cost overruns.

Upper left photo:  This printed sheet corresponds to 16 pages of music (8 on one side, and 8 and the other).

The three other photos: Details from the second proof with cryptic remarks regarding corrections.

This printed sheet is dedicated solely to the wrap around cover (printed 4 at a time) and the special red label (printed 14 at a time).  The title label (like a nice wine etikette) is pasted on, meaning it must be especially printed and then die cut to match the irregular edges of the original label.  As mentioned above, the text and decorative border additionally have been printed with gold leaf and supplied with a patina, a completely separate printing step.

Celebration of  the completion of printing:  When the printing of a facsimile project is completed the responsible editor of the house, in this case the up-to-now unseen photographer, takes the finished sheets into the house.  A momentary euphoric chaos ensues.  He examines the individual sheets and trims them to get rid of the annoying pure white borders.  He then shows them to anyone around and breathes a sigh of relief: an expensive production step finally has come to an end!

Here’s a page of Haydn “Gott! erhalte” labels covering copies of ADEVA's Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and a volume of his Eroica Symphony.  The specially printed label really captures the aura of the Haydn period.  But first the labels with their beautiful gold leaf will have to go to Peter Strmsek, the die cutter, to receive their exact dimensions, faithful to the original.


Peter Strmsek, an expert die maker, creates a physical replica that perfectly matches the distinct borders of the individual sheets of the original.  In a wooden panel outfitted with sharp steel bands the irregular page surrounds are perfectly cut out.  The dark grey pieces seen in the photo (soft foam rubber on each side of the steel band) serve as buffer pads.

These die forms are clamped into a “torture machine” that can accept the printer’s sheet.  In this way a pair of bifolios can be cut out at once.  Lower right: a pile of completed bifolios.  It is always a pleasure in this computer-obsessed age to immerse oneself in this type of “analog” handmade manufacturing.

Indeed there are other models for constructing die cutting machines for this purpose, for example, the “micropuncher”. Nevertheless the method shown above is the one preferred by Adeva.


Josef Almer, Adeva’s master bookbinder, brings together the individual sheets of the first copy.  He subsequently folds them and then stitches them into fascicles.  Lower right: 10 stitched copies piled up on a single stack (which will be later separated); this pile will become books to be exhibited at the 2008 Frankfurt Book Fair.

Step by step a true replica of the binding comes into being which we already got a glimpse of above.  The binders board are “dressed” with the printed cover material, and Miriam Trost glues on the gilded title label.  The binding finally spends some time in the press.  These are just some of the fleeting moments of the book binding process.  It’s a long process from the beginning to the point when a complete finished copy is laying on the table, looking nearly indistinguishable from the original.


The finished facsimile... or is it actually the original? It’s hard to say.  The soiled thumb marks on the edges of the pages, the different paper sizes and the irregular borders are not impossible to reproduce but admittedly there are elements of the original that are difficult or impossible to reproduce.


The final results in relation to the original may still be disappointing.  Some cuts and fraying might have been overlooked, on the other hand Joseph Haydn’s masterwork will remain accessible to the next generation through this edition and survive the original in case of possible destruction or abuse.

Folio 3 of the facsimile showing the fair copy of the harmonized melody with Haydn’s signature at the end.

And thumbing through, one comes to the first edition of the harmonized hymn, smaller in format, like the original.

The commentary is supplied together with the facsimile in a slipcase.  Adeva’s model here was not one of their Beethoven facsimiles but rather one of their non-musical codices.

Postscript:  Our neighbors in Germany may be pleased to know that the melody of their "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit …" (also sung to the melody of "Gott! erhalte") has been published in a faithful reproduction appearing as if  Haydn penned it yesterday.

Erblassend müssen wir festhalten: Mit etwas Vergleichbarem können wir Österreicher nicht aufwarten.

© Gerhard Lechner, Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, Graz 2008.


Joseph Haydn: "Gott! erhalte Franz den Kaiser" (Hob. XXVIa: 43) and String Quartet Op. 76, No. 3 (Hob. III: 77), "Emperor Quartet" (Variation Movement)

Series: Musica manuscripta 3a. Edited, with a commentary by Günter Brosche.

Complete facsimile edition of the manuscripts Mus. Hs. 16.501 in possession of the Austrian National Library.

Facsimile: 13 sheets in the original format with irregular page trimming, ca. 31,5 x 22,7 cm, hardbound after the original with pasted title ettikette and marks of wear.

Commentary: 24 pages, 5 B/W illustrations, watermark drawings in the original size. Facsimile and commentary supplied with slipcase. ISBN 978-3-201-01905-7

Subscription price valdi until 12/31/08: € 159 Price thereafter: € 198