Music librarians invade the Farm

September 25, 2019
Ray Heigemeir
The California Chapter of the Music Library Association, 2019

Stanford Music Library and Archive of Recorded Sound welcomed the California Chapter of the Music Library Association for a two-day conference.

A total of 32 participants represented institutions including the University of the Pacific, the University of Southern California, Biola University, Chapman University, California Institute of the Arts, the Musicians Institute, the Brand Library and Arts Center, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts, California State Universities (Northridge, Fresno, East Bay), and Universities of California (San Diego, UCLA, Santa Barbara, Berkeley), as well as several independent researchers.

Michele Gibney, Nicole Wasnock, and Keith Hatschek from the University of the Pacific

Michele Gibney, Nicole Wasnock, and Keith Hatschek from the University of the Pacific discuss Backstage Pass, a collaborative undergraduate music journal 

Session topics included digitizing and disseminating piano roll music, challenges to audio preservation and reformatting, building a “real” library from scratch, work going into our Association archives, reimagining the graduate music bibliography course for performers, and the creation of a collaborative, undergraduate music journal. Lighting round topic ranged from the latest news on the Music Modernization Act, to research on a rare California mission music manuscript.

Robert Huw Morgan welcomed us to the choir loft in Memorial Church

Robert Huw Morgan welcomes us to the choir loft in Memorial Church

And yes, there was time to stretch our legs for two campus excursions, heat wave be damned.  First, University Organist Robert Huw Morgan graciously hosted us in Memorial Church for a demonstration of the grand, romantic Murray-Harris organ, which is the original church organ, and the baroque Fisk-Nanney organ, a one-of-a-kind instrument that can play in both equal and meantone temperaments.  Dr. Morgan performed a set of variations by Tchaikovsky on the 57-stop, 3702-pipe Murray-Harris (fulfilling a request to “play something LOUD!”) and demonstrated the meantone tuning of the Fisk-Nanney with a comparison of intervals in different keys (some pleasing, others rather teeth-grinding), followed by a quintessentially baroque Buxtehude praeludium.

Music librarians inspect our rare holdings

Music librarians inspect our rare holdings in the Barchas Room

Day 2 found us in the Department of Special Collections where a buffet of rare manuscripts was laid out, including works by Mozart, Schubert, Bach, Stravinsky, Beethoven, and Brahms. Also displayed were Jenny Lind’s American tour music (1849), the choir book used by Junipero Serra at Mission San Carlos at Carmel (1770-1784), a 12th-century chant leaf, and a richly-illustrated anonymous manuscript of variations on La marseillaise. This undated, unsigned item proved quite popular with the librarians -- always at the ready to solve a musical mystery! All manuscripts are undergoing digitization, which is news for another day…

La marseillaise variations (detail)

A sample of the charmingly ghoulish illustrations that run throughout the mysterious Marseillaise variations