Blog topic: Music

Music note

Are you a "Round Hed"?

March 27, 2015
by Ray Heigemeir

A copy of the Sherman & Hyde Musical Review (San Francisco, 1874) came across my desk and I happened upon this "artikel" written in tongue-and-cheek defense of the shape-note singing technique (aka, "skuare notes"), which was apparently looked down on by 'properly trained' musicians--"Round Heds", who read music with the standard round-head notation. The Music Library has a number of of shape-note singing primers, which were the subject of a 2012 exhibit on Early American Tune Books. Several titles have been digitized; see The Easy Instructor for examples of shape-note notation.

Theremin at Stanford

The Archive of Recorded Sound (ARS) and Stanford Media Preservation Lab (SMPL) recently worked with the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), specifically Emeritus Professor John Chowning and current CCRMA director and Duca Family Professor Chris Chafe, to locate, research, and digitize a series of videos from the Archive's CCRMA Tape Collection (ARS.0037) documenting a significant event in the history of CCRMA and electronic and computer music at Stanford. 

In September 1991, numerous pioneers of electronic and computer music, including Robert Moog and Max Mathews, convened at Stanford during the University's centennial weekend (Sept 27-29, 1991) for a concert and symposium honoring the then 95 year-old inventor of the first practical electronic musical instrument, Leon Theremin. Theremin's instrument, which bears his surname, has become arguably one of the most well known and recognizable electronic musical instruments ever devised, and has since inspired numerous subsequent inventions, such as Max Mathews' radio batons. It has been used in countless musical works, perhaps most famously in the Beach Boys 1966 hit, Good Vibrations. It also gave rise to the career of virtuoso Theremin performer, Clara Rockmore. 

Alert 747

ALERT 747 exhibit in Green Library

Alert 747: Suspected Nuclear Test  - A journey to uncover facts and create dialog through humanistic creative production. This February, Stanford University Libraries (SUL) highlights a special collection, Vela 6911 by Victor Gama, with an exhibit on display in the Green Library South Lobby from February 3- March 9, 2015.  Vela 6911 is a multimedia musical piece created by Victor Gama, an Angolan composer and designer of contemporary musical instruments for new music. This exhibit offers a glimpse into this vast collection of research, images, video content and musical scores that reside in the SUL Archive of Recorded Sound.  It also supports and coincides with the March 6th live performance of VELA 6911 by Gama, the Stanford University New Ensemble and special guests from Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). Information about the concert is at the Stanford Events Page. 

Edison listening to wax cylinder 1888

A buried sound: the unanticipated visit to the Archive of Recorded Sound

January 28, 2015

About two months ago, I accidentally wandered into an antique shop in Fairfax, California. Inside there was a seemingly random arrangement of kipple which the shopkeeper clearly understood. It was as if I had discovered a surreptitious vault in an Indiana Jones movie filled with gleaming mounds of treasure, a glut of pearls and gold, a feast for the eyes*. I hesitated, unsure of where to start, slightly concerned that something would fall on me.

Portrait of Joseph Haydn, By Thomas Hardy (1791)

Rare Haydn materials in the Stanford Libraries: a summary

January 26, 2015
by Ray Heigemeir

Over the past several months, I have been blogging about rare Haydn materials held in the Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library of Music, including one autograph manuscript, one important letter, and nine first or early score editions. Each item was digitized for deep storage in the Stanford Digital Repository, and high-quality, downloadable images have been made available to the world via links in SearchWorks. Thanks go to Astrid Smith, Rare Book and Special Collections Digitization Specialist, and the Digital Production Group for their excellent efforts on behalf of this project in support of Haydn, Patronage, and the Enlightenment.

Orfeo e Euridice by Enrico Scuri, 1842, Musei Civici di Pavia

The opera that Haydn never heard

January 26, 2015
by Ray Heigemeir

Orfeo e Euridice [Orphée et Euridice] : dramma per musica / composto da Giusep. e Haydn ; traduit en vers français ; arrangé pour le piano-forte par Gerardin Lacour.
Paris : Mme. Masson, [1805]

Stanford University Libraries, Memorial Library of Music, MLM 495

Link to downloadable images of this work

Original title on the autograph score: Orfeo ed Euridice; title in Haydn’s catalogue: L'anima del filosofo ossia

Composed in 1791 and headed for the boards in the new Haymarket Theatre, Orfeo was cancelled due to recurring arts-patron rivalry between George III and his son, the Prince of Wales. The King and the Prince supported rival opera houses and seasons. The Prince was a patron of the Haymarket, and George III took it upon himself to refuse to grant a performing license to the Haymarket’s manager, Sir John Gallini, effectively mothballing the production of Orfeo at the new theatre. 

Il Sodoma. Cupid in a landscape (1510)

Haydn's duets for lovers

January 16, 2015
by Ray Heigemeir

Deux Duos avec accompagnement de piano forte:
Saper vorrei se m’ami, HXXVa:1

Guarda qui, che lo vedrai, HXXVa:2
À Bonn : Chez N. Simrock., [1803 or 1804]

Stanford University Libraries, Memorial Library of Music, MLM 490

Link to downloadable images of this work

This pair of pastoral duets for soprano, tenor, and piano were composed in 1796, a highly productive year for Haydn.  Other major works Haydn composed  that year include the Trumpet Concerto, the Missa Sancti Bernardi de Offida (‘Heiligmesse’), and the Missa in tempore belli (‘Paukenmesse’)The librettist was Carlo Francesco Badini, whom Haydn met while in London. Badini worked for the Italian opera house, and also supplied the libretto to Haydn's last opera, L'anima del filosofo, ossia Orfeo ed Euridice

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