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Rare books

Aldine Greek Bible 1518

Stanford University Libraries is the grateful recipient of a very generous donation of some 700 individual leaves from early printed books, the gift of Donn Faber Downing and Letitia Leigh Sanders. The vast majority of these leaves are from books from the 15th and 16th centuries and serve not only as examples of which texts were being printed with this “new” technology (Gutenberg’s Bible was printed about 1455, the first book printed in the western world with moveable type) but also how these texts were presented: their typefaces, page layout, and format.  It is a remarkable, rich collection, and will be used in a wide variety of classes.

Spring term will begin on March 30th and with the new term comes new hours for Special Collections and University Archives.  Our open hours for Spring term will be Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Portrait of Joseph Haydn, By Thomas Hardy (1791)

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

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)

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

Haydn's signature

Dernière sonate pour le piano forte, avec accompaniment de violon
À Paris : publiée par Naderman ; À Londres : par Clementi & Co., [1821]

Stanford University Libraries, Memorial Library of Music, MLM 498

Link to downloadable images of this work

In advance of a visit to Paris in 1803, Prince Esterházy asked Haydn to compose a new piano sonata as a gift for Louise-Alexandrine-Eugénie Moreau, the French-Creole wife of the famous general Jean Victor Moreau, and hostess of an influential Paris salon. Haydn, pleading illness, sent instead a copy of the sonata for piano with violin and 'cello accompaniment (HXV:31) minus the somewhat superfluous ‘cello part.  In an accompanying letter to Madame Moreau, Haydn apologizes for not composing something new, due to his failing health, and promises to fulfill his duties once he regains his strength.

Winter in the Viennese woods

Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons)
Leipzig : Breitkopf & Härtel, [1802]

Stanford University Libraries, Memorial Library of Music, MLM 494

Link to downloadable images of this work: volume one | volume two

Composition, performance and publication of The Seasons quickly followed the resounding success of The Creation. The libretto, also provided by Baron von Swieten, was a fragmented adaptation of James Thompson’s epic poem, first published in the 1730s and which enjoyed broad popularity at the end of the century. The private premiere took place at the Schwarzenberg Winter Palace on April 24, 1801, and the public premiere took place in the Redoutensaal at the Hofburg Palace, on May 29 of that same year.

Bridget Whearty and Astrid Smith in the digitization lab

As the CLIR postdoctoral fellow in Data Curation for Medieval Studies at Stanford I work primarily with data about large collections of digitized manuscripts and fragments. For example, I have helped to make our teaching collections more easily discoverable in Searchworks. I've also been bringing together partner institutions' descriptive metadata to feed a specialized manuscript search environment. 

In practice, I write code to transform batches of 70, 300, 500, or 1000+ manuscripts at a time: I've gotten very comfortable thinking of medieval manuscripts in the tens, hundreds, and even thousands. But the truth is that these large batches of digital-medieval manuscripts I curate are built of unique, single objects. Single objects that, just like the physical objects they grow from, are made by individual people, in particular environments, under specific institutional, financial, and social pressures. 

In order to better understand the process that leads to the creation of a digital-medieval book, I recently followed the digitization of a fifteenth-century book of hours, Stanford University Libraries, M0379, from the request for digitization, through the slow hard work of taking the images and hours of post-production labor, to its arrival in Stanford Digital Repository (SDR). 

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