Over the past year this blog has covered a wide variety of piano roll topics: conjoined rolls, archival storage issues, publication dates, illustrations on rolls, piano roll lending libraries, Welte-Mignon at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and Hupfeld piano rolls. Many thoughtful comments from members of the player piano and mechanical music communities came to us through email, blog comments, or in-person visits during our listening parties.
I came across this miniature book, Duke Ellington Remembered: New York Notes, by Whitney Balliett, and thought it perfect for a miniature blog post. It is by far the tiniest book in the Music Library. Balliett (1926-2007) was a journalist and jazz critic who wrote for a number of publications, including for the New Yorker under famed editor William Shawn. His essays on jazz and jazz musicians have been collected into a number of monographs, many of which are available in the Stanford Libraries.
Opern-Tÿpen consists of six volumes of chromolithographic plates depicting scenes from 54 operas popular in 19th century Germany. Each opera plot has been distilled into a mere six frames, with liberally adapted accompanying text. The visual charms of Opern-Typen are evident. The plates reveal a sophisticated understanding of the effective use of line, gesture, and composition to convey drama and comedy in a tight narrative sequence. Future research may determine if these drawings captured or were informed by real-life performances, as is suggested by the inclusion of staging and scenic elements.