Music

Music

Though Harvard has the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Houghton also possesses an enviable collection of items related to the concentration that students can use in their research endeavors. As a cultural phenomenon, music lives within a historical and societal context, and Houghton, besides having scores, is rich in material that helps to contextualize music as part of an epoch. That includes, for instance, a portion of the Moldenhauer Archives (MS Mus 261, 008539543), which contain sound recordings but also musicians’ correspondence and photographs, and cancelled checks paid to composers by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation (MS Am 2596, 11416602), which provide insight into the financial history of music and the perceived monetary value of certain composers.

Houghton, however, is also a reliquary for treasures directly related to music and musicology. The Ward Collection, formed from the bequest of John Ward, an emeritus professor of music at Harvard, contains unique items such as a heavily annotated score of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (*Mus.St829V.1921, 007104154) and various materials related to opera, social dance, and costume design. Some of the collection’s most significant objects are three copies of the musical tragedy Amadis recorded in three different ways: as a manuscript (010735498), as an engraving (8530918), and as a movable-type print (10120834). It is rare for a collection to own the same piece in such a variety of formats, and the pieces can be used to study the history of music dissemination in the West.

The library also has plenty of other collections connected to music. They include the Haverlin Collection, which contains many original materials by illustrious figures in the history of the field, including Mozart manuscripts; a compendium of about 7,000 songster songbooks with one unified catalog (TCS 89, 013376679); a collection of Southern ballads from the early twentieth century (MS Am 1576, 010168691); a score of socialist songs from Leicester, England (EB85.A100.895s, 012574909); transcripts of African-American songs compiled during the American Civil War (MS Am 1162.7, 000601757); late nineteenth-century orchestra music from the Boston Theatre (MS Thr 554); and the impressive Ballet Russe collection, which hails from many donors and contains not only scores from the dance company (MS Thr 465; MS Thr 495), but also setting and costume designs—including works by Pablo Picasso (MS Thr 414.4).

Some individual items about music in the library are also worthy of notice. Barbara M. Wolff’s catalogue of music manuscripts at Houghton and the Loeb Music Library (ML136.C23 H684 1992, 002728570), which spans six centuries, is sure to help Harvard musicians in their research endeavors. Houghton also holds microforms of oriental music in European notation (Mus 15.5, 007295363), a very useful resource for students doing comparative work between Eastern and Western music and assessing transcription differences and their effects. The library also possesses a 1880 copy of an Alexander Graham Bell article titled “On the Production and Reproduction of Sound by Light” (*74-372, 002274796), whose implications for music can be studied in conjunction with Physics and concentrations in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Students also have access to leaves of music by Walt Whitman based on the luminary’s poems (Mus 36.13*, 005897022) and to the papers of Johnny Green (MS Thr 569, 012522078), a Harvard Class of 1928 graduate who went on to win multiple Academy Awards for his musical work. One of the coveted statuettes is, in fact, at Houghton (1944). Finally, one of the library’s most recent additions, Rolling Words: A Smokable Songbook (AC20.Sn545.2012r, 013624967), a 2012 publication “brought to you by Snoop Dogg king size slim rolling papers,” is sure to delight music students and the general Houghton public alike.