Responsory collection


  • The work began in the 1970s.
  • The first stage was to prepare synoptic transcription sheets of responsoria prolixa of some Hungarian and some foreign sources, as a research aid that could be expanded later.
  • The work continued in 1999, making the material complete by transcribing further sources and missing chants, and continuing to organize them musically and catalogue them digitally. Here as with the antiphons there arose the idea of a complete edition on typological principles.
  • Later the use of computers made the paper aids superfluous; the registration of the collection, transcription of the chants, and preparation of them for publication could all be done digitally.
  • The outcome was a full edition of the whole, musically organized responsory repertory, which appeared in 2013.




László Dobszay–Janka Szendrei (eds.),
Responsories I–II. (Budapest: Balassi Kiadó, 2013).
















Further details

Systematic transcription and cataloguing of the responsories, in a similar way to the antiphons, began in the 1970s, as a practical aid and as part of a specific research subject. The work began with complete transcription of two antiphons from Pozsony/Bratislava (Knauz 2, 3: Bratislava, Slovenský národný archív / Fond Kapitulská knižnica 2; Bratislava, Archív mesta, EC Lad 4) and continued with the processing of comparable source materials. The first transcriptions were made by János Mezei, with Péter Ullmann taking part initially. János Mezei was also the one responsible primarily for the foreign source materials appended to the transcriptions.

Unlike those for the antiphons, the responsory transcriptions were presented from the outset as synoptic tables that allow versions to be compared. The tables included firstly melodic variations found in other Hungarian sources, and then typical sources from other Central European traditions, e. g. Passau, Prague, Klosterneuburg, Kraków and Wrocław (Breslau).

Ease of use was the priority, as the collection was meant primarily to be a research aid. The material currently held in boxes is in alphabetical order with responsories for the temporale and for the sanctorale separate. Alongside the work of publishing the antiphons, it had been mooted that the responsories too should be organized musically and published on typological lines. In fact a start had been made in 1999 on developing and expanding the collection and computerized cataloguing of it, and even transcribing the whole melodic material in computerized score graphics.




The concept of organization was devised by László Dobszay and Janka Szendrei. Among those involved in transcribing and verifying it were Orsolya Csomó, Judit Fehér and Gabriella Gilányi. Beáta Meszéna formulated the system for publishing the scores and variants. Computerization precluded the need for grouping the original documents by type or producing various kinds of card index.

There were fewer precedents for publishing the whole corpus of a tradition in such an analytical, critical way than there were for antiphons, but a few such, with similar intentions or subject matter are listed below. The complete publication containing 1149 responsories appeared eventually as László Dobszay and Janka Szendrei, Responsories I–II (Budapest: Balassi Kiadó, 2013).


  • Walter Howard Frere, Antiphonale Sarisburiense. A Reproduction in Facsimile of a Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century (London: Plainsong and Medieval Music Society, 1901–1924)
  • Terence Bailey, “The Ambrosian Responsoria Gradualia. Their Place in the Liturgy, the Adaptation of a Type-melody”, in Studies in Medieval Chant and Liturgy in Honour of David Hiley, ed. Terence Bailey–László Dobszay (Ottawa: Institute of Mediaeval Music, 2007).
  • A Verbum caro responzórium-típus (The Verbum caro type of responsory) (Budapest: MTA – Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem Egyházzenei Intézete és a Magyar Egyházzenei Társaság, 2003)
  • László Dobszay, “The Responsory: Type and Modulation”, IMS Congress July 10 to 15 2007 at Zurich University.