Jerry McBride to retire

September 15, 2020
Jerry McBride, head librarian for Braun Music Library and the Archive of Recorded Sound,

Our wonderful colleague, Jerry McBride, will be retiring on September 22 after more than seventeen years of service as Head of the Music Library and of the Archive of Recorded Sound. Jerry has made important contributions to the Stanford community through teaching, research and innovative collection development. His work has elevated the stature of Stanford Libraries’ music and recording collections. Importantly, Jerry has also contributed to building the careers of many music librarians in and outside of Stanford through his leadership in the field and as a mentor to younger librarians. In countless ways, Jerry has been a helpful, enthusiastic colleague who has promoted collaboration across the Stanford Libraries.

Among his many accomplishments, the following stand out:

Teaching -- Jerry has served the Music Department by regularly teaching the music bibliography section of Music Proseminar (Music 200) to entering Ph.D students in music.

Research – Jerry has published original research on the American composer, Douglas Moore, in books and articles. His book, Douglas Moore: A Bio-Bibliography received the Vincent H. Duckles Award from the Music Library Association, for the best book-length bibliography in music published in 2011, MLA’s highest publication award. 

Projects -- As project director, Jerry has demonstrated collegiality and determination.  The projects he has directed have been ambitious, innovative and forward-looking.  They include:

  • The Player Piano Program which opened a whole new area of music research.  Created in close collaboration with the Music Department and colleagues across the Libraries, this program was built around the remarkable Denis Condon Collection.  The key outcome of the program was the digitization of historic player piano rolls. To that end, project staff designed and created a state-of-the-art roll scanner to preserve and protect the fragile paper of the hundred-year-old rolls. Computer programs were then written for each roll type to convert the images into MIDI files which can be played with a MIDI piano and/or converted into digital audio files. Many of the Condon Collection rolls were originally performed by the world’s greatest pianists and composers from the first part of the 1900s. These rolls, previously locked away gathering dust, can now be heard at the click of a button from Stanford’s website (
  • Riverwalk Jazz was an innovative project to document the Riverwalk Jazz radio program that aired for 25 years on public radio featuring the Jim Cullum Jazz Band. The project culminated in a comprehensive website ( of information about the band and the history of early jazz and includes two simultaneous streaming audio radio channels playing all 25 years of the program.
  • San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation Collection was created with a $400,000 donation from the Foundation to create a research website chronicling the history of west-coast traditional jazz and featuring thousands of primary source documents, recordings, photographs, and ephemera to lead researchers to the Foundation’s comprehensive archive now held in the Archive of Recorded Sound.

Jerry McBride in Shanghai, China reviewing the Mario Paci Archive

Collection Development-- Jerry has shown a keen eye for important collections and pursued them with determination and a deft touch with potential donors.  Some of his most impressive contributions to Stanford’s research collections are:

  • Manuscripts and rare editions such as an extremely rare manuscript containing French ballades by Dufay, Grenon, and Binchois from the 1400s; the earliest extant manuscript of the opera Aïda written by a copyist in 1876 for the Paris premiere at the Théâtre Italien and conducted by Verdi; and the Encomium musices, one of the most famous examples of music iconography (Antwerp, ca.1590), and one of the most complete of only five copies of the book known to exist.
  • Important archives include the Denis Condon Collection of Reproducing Pianos and Rolls and other piano roll collections now number over 20,000 piano rolls making it the largest and most significant collection of rare piano rolls in an academic library in the US. This roll collection together with the Richard J. Howe Collection of Musical Instrument Literature archives (352 linear feet) and the Larry Sitsky Piano Roll Catalog Collections position Stanford University as the center for research in the US on player pianos and rolls.
  • Lim Mark Lai named his collection, “The Magnificat Music Library,” as an homage to Bach comprising 1,350 boxes including the personal collection of Arnold Rosé (1863-1946), the concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic and Opera who played under Mahler; the personal collection of Lilli Lehmann, the famous soprano who sang at the first complete performance of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at Bayreuth; invaluable documentation of the San Francisco Theater Research Project of the WPA in 20 volumes, unquestionably the most comprehensive chronology of theater, concert and operatic performances in San Francisco from the earliest days to 1941.
  • Robert Baxter, a music critic in the Philadelphia area, amassed a large collection including numerous historical photographs of singers, letters, autographs, ephemera, a comprehensive collection of materials on Maria Callas, a library of music books, and tens of thousands of CD and LP recordings primarily of vocal music, which he donated as a bequest to Stanford.
  • The Women’s Philharmonic Collection documents this pioneering orchestra 1981-2004 with over 1000 musical scores, recordings, and archival resources of important women composers and musicians providing researchers with source material in a highly neglected area of music history.

While this recitation of Jerry’s contributions is impressive, it does not go far enough in recognizing his many contributions to Stanford and the Stanford Libraries. Jerry managed the staff of the Music Library and Archive of Recorded Sound with compassion and care. He helped to shape the careers of his staff members, many of whom have now become leaders in the field in their own right. As his contribution to teaching in the Music Department shows, he worked seamlessly with the department in order to create programs that work for the Stanford community. We will miss his incisive wit, his good humor, and this tremendous work ethic.

Thank you, Jerry!