It was my distinct pleasure to offer a window into Stanford Libraries’ rare music collections to students in the “Why Music Matters” course from the Stanford Pre-Collegiate Summer Institute, and performers in the St. Lawrence String Quartet’s Chamber Music Course. We gathered in Special Collections for an up-close examination of manuscripts and early print materials, dating from 1942 (Irving Berlin’s White Christmas) all the way back to the 12th century (a sacred chant fragment).
Blog topic: Manuscripts
Welcome to part four of our week-long venture into the John Marcum papers. In the midst of revolution and upheaval, many African countries found themselves courted by both East and West in a proxy Cold War. Naturally, much of the battle was fought with propaganda, and these items reflect the urgency and tension of those times.
For part three of this week's series on the recently processed John Marcum papers, we focus on ephemera. Most of these items might be overlooked by those mining the rich correspondence and notes, but they certainly have their own tales to tell.
This week we celebrate the release of the John Marcum Papers with daily posts highlighting various aspects of this Africanist scholar's collection. Today we present various material from Series 22. South Africa.
South African author Nadine Gordimer instructing Marcum to send his book on Angola discretely packaged:
Special Collections is very proud to announce the availability of the John Marcum papers. Marcum (1927-2013) was an Africanist scholar whose foundational research on the revolutions in Angola and Mozambique was only a part of his long academic career.
The maverick composer Henry Cowell wrote the solo piano work, The Harp of Life, in Menlo Park in 1925; it was later incorporated into the suite, Four Irish Tales, for piano and orchestra (1940). The original holograph score is held in the Memorial Library of Music in Stanford’s Department of Special Collections (MLM 232C). Accompanying correspondence from Cowell’s widow, Sydney, notes that only a few of Cowell’s 25 or so manuscripts employing tone clusters have survived, this being one. The Harp of Life refers to a great cosmic harp, upon which a plucked string announces the birth of a new being. Cowell’s tone clusters create an aural celestial environment within which the harp is played.