Harvard College Library News: News from around the libraries

Solti Archive Goes to Harvard’s Loeb Music Library

May 17, 2011 – The archive of Sir Georg Solti, a body of work of significance to musical scholars and musicians worldwide, has come to Harvard’s Loeb Music Library. The collection includes hundreds of scores heavily marked for performance and annotated by Solti, one of the 20th century’s most renowned conductors of opera and symphony and winner of more Grammy Awards than any other recording artist in any category.

Rather than mark up a score and reuse it for subsequent performances, Solti approached each performance as if it were new, creating a uniquely marked score. Accumulated through an accomplished career that spanned decades, these scores illustrate how Solti’s thinking progressed, how he solved musical problems, and how he adapted performances to suit a particular context.

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“Sir Georg's conducting scores are of special interest and importance to musicians and scholars as they provide insight into the workings of an inspired and accomplished musical mind, laying bare understandings of style, technique, and interpretations of monuments of Western music,” said Virginia Danielson, the Richard F. French Librarian of Loeb Music Library. “We are tremendously grateful to the Solti family for this most generous gift, which is so significant to music performance and scholarship.”

In keeping with University’s efforts to provide broad access to resources, the Solti gift will enable the collection to be digitized and made available online for scholars and music enthusiasts around the world via Loeb Music’s Digital Scores and Libretti site and the Music Treasures Consortium portal hosted by the Library of Congress. Use of these materials will be promoted through collaborations with agencies such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the British Library, which own related material.

Cataloging and processing of the archive has begun and the Library hopes to make the collection available to scholars and musicians by early next winter.  Much of the work will be accomplished in Harvard College Library’s state-of-the-art audio and digital preservation labs.

The Solti collection joins Loeb Music Library’s already rich Solti resources that include his complete recorded legacy for British Decca Records from 1947-1997.  These recordings document his collaboration with virtually every significant instrumentalist, singer and orchestra for the last half century.

The library also holds numerous live broadcast recordings from 1937 on, including documentation of Solti’s performances at the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera in the 1960s, and video recordings of the maestro in rehearsals and performances made at the apex of his career. In addition, Loeb Music’s print collection widely documents the achievements of his musical contemporaries – from conductors to composers and solo performers – providing rich context for the study of Solti’s work.

“Loeb Music Library’s collection of Solti's extensive recorded legacy along with his voluminous correspondence immeasurably enhances the value of the scores as a scholarly resource, particularly with the present growth and development of the artistic disciplines of the history of performance and performance practice.” said Danielson.

Born in 1912 in Budapest, Sir Georg Solti became one of the foremost conductors and most influential musicians of the post-war era. He conducted every one of the world's major orchestras, and assumed directorships of several major opera houses, including those of Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and most notably, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Solti had long-term relationships with the principal orchestras in London, Vienna and Paris, and enjoyed a highly celebrated and artistically fruitful 22-year tenure at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, beginning in 1969. He also worked with major music festivals in Salzburg, Glyndebourne, Edinburgh and Bayreuth.