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Harvard College Library News: News from around the libraries

Music Treasures Consortium Launched

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Loeb Music librarian Kerry Masteller examines a first-edition piano-vocal score of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Così fan tutte and other materials that are available through the new Music Treasures Consortium site.


March 22, 2011 – The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library at Harvard University, in collaboration with the Julliard School and the Library of Congress, recently launched the Music Treasures Consortium, a Web site that provides a single point of access to some of the world's most valued music manuscript and print materials from six esteemed institutions in the U.S. and U.K. Loeb Music staff played a leading role in creating and populating the site, and in establishing a faculty advisory group that includes Harvard’s Christoph Wolff and other leading music scholars.

Hosted by the Library of Congress, the site is a portal that offers users access to digital collections Web sites at each participating library. Researchers can search or browse materials, find bibliographic information about each item and view digital images.

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Items available through the Consortium site include manuscript scores to first and early editions of a work. Composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Wagner, Claude Debussy, Georges Bizet, Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky, among others, are represented on the site through their original handwritten manuscripts and first and early editions. The online items range from the 16th- to the 20th-centuries in this initial launch.

From Loeb Music, scholars can access the full scope of the Digital Scores and Libretti Collection, including works by Bach and Bach family members, Mozart, Schubert and other composers, as well as 18th- and 19th-century opera scores, seminal works of musical modernism, and music of the Second Viennese School. Additional material from Loeb Music’s collection, and from the Harvard libraries generally, will continue to be added.

“The materials that are available through this project are very important to music scholars,” said Virginia Danielson, the Richard F. French Librarian of Loeb Music Library. “We expect this will be useful to scholars in the same way primary resources are. It will also be a tremendously valuable resource for performers – especially in the world of historically-informed performance – who love to work with primary sources.”

Other institutions participating in the consortium are the Juilliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace Library, the British Library, the Morgan Library and Museum, and the New York Public Library. An advisory board that includes Harvard’s Christoph Wolff, Adams University Professor and Curator of the Isham Memorial Library, and music scholars Jeffrey Kallberg, Philip Gossett and Laurent Pugin helped consortium members plan a site that would be useful for scholarly research.

Presenting collections from six institutions in a consistent format posed a number of technical challenges. The Library of Congress developed a system that would automatically create bibliographic lists for the portal, but those lists, once created, needed to be refined to include enough pertinent information for scholars. Reference and Digital Program Librarian Kerry Masteller was responsible for refining the Loeb Music listings.

“We needed someone like Kerry, who knows music materials, and understands how scholars will use this material, to manage that work,” Danielson said. “It is not unusual for the title on a manuscript to be something generic, like ‘Sonata in F.’ For it to be meaningful for scholars, though, you need the composer’s name, or what’s called the uniform title for it to make sense. Kerry was able to articulate what scholars need to use the site, and she also understands the technology that goes into building it - that’s why her work was so valuable to this project.”