Johann Jacob Heinrich Westphal Collection (1756-1825)

Johann Jacob Heinrich Westphal (1756-1825), was an organist in Schwerin and collector of music who built up a collection of manuscript and edited scores, as well as books about music and portraits of musicians. He bought these works from contemporary editors and distributors. At the same time, he also copied works and ordered manuscript scores directly from composers themselves such as C.P.E. Bach. The highlight of the collection is a set of over 650 manuscripts by C.P.E. Bach, over 420 manuscripts by Georg Philipp Telemann and over 300 manuscripts by Johann Wilhelm Hertel.

After Westphal’s death in 1825, numerous offers to buy the collection were made from Prussia, Austria, the city of Hamburg, the archduke of Mecklenburg, the king of Saxony and Prince Oscar of Sweden, but none of these were successful. Four years later, the collection was still in the possession of Westphal’s heirs. Then, around 1835, François-Joseph Fétis, the first director of the Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles bought it in a personal capacity. The Belgian state then bought the collection from him in 1846 in order to donate it to the Conservatoire. Nonetheless, after this sale, numerous works remained in the private collection of Fétis, and these were acquired by the Belgian government after his death and deposited in the Royal Library of Belgium.

During the lifetime of Westphal his collection was already famed for its size: over 600 theoretical texts about music, over 3,000 scores and a gallery of over 400 portraits of musicians. Some of the works carry the signature or initials of Westphal, or his personal ‘ex-libris' mark.