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: Music
The scholarly edition of the famous Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto no. 1 just landed in my lap (ouch!), which got me thinking about the impressive publications we in the music world know as “composer complete works editions,” or, “composer collected works.” These often lavish, multi-volume sets of music scores are painstakingly produced by scholars, based on all available source material, and published over time following a pre-determined order, and as the name implies, present the complete output of a particular composer.
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.
For a number of years the Archive of Recorded Sound has been collecting catalogs published by recording companies from around the world. Although the ARS continues to collect these catalogs on an ongoing basis, the materials that are currently in the the Record Catalog Collection have now been processed, and a finding aid is available in the Online Archive of California. In addition to record catalogs, the publications in the collection include promotional and advertising mat
The following titles have been added to the Music Library Reference Room. In no particular order:
It has been some time since there has been a report on the Player Piano Project, but there has been a great deal of activity toward the design and construction of a piano roll scanner. We are working with Anthony Robinson in England who is a player piano enthusiast and the designer of a roll scanner which we believe is one of the best scanners in operation to date. Anthony graciously and generously agreed to work with us to create a scanner that would handle scanning large numbers of rolls easily and efficiently.
The Stanford East Asia Library has recently obtained a small collection of Japanese manuscripts used in the Buddhist ritual practice of kōshiki 講式. Most of the manuscripts are from the 17th-19th centuries, but the oldest is believed to date to 1304 CE.
At the December 7, 2015 auction at Sotheby’s London, the Stanford Libraries acquired a manuscript copy of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Aida, used for the performances at the Théâtre Italien in Paris in 1876. The manuscript, which will be housed in the Department of Special Collections, was the focus of a seminar, Music 310: Aida in Paris (and Beyond) taught by Professor Heather Hadlock of the Music Department in Fall 2016. Seminar participants were Kelly Christensen, Kirstin Haag, Michael Kinney, Tyler Mitchell, Ben Ory and David Wilson.