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Posts by Bob Kosovsky

Learning from Music Manuscripts

A class from Mannes examines music manuscriptsIt can be a special experience when students make contact with primary resources. I have written previously about a class visit to examine documents from the life of Johann Sebastian Bach. A few weeks ago I had the great opportunity to introduce students to a fundamental primary resource: music manuscripts. My colleague Fred Fehleisen (of Mannes College the New School for Music) brought his class to the

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La veuve Boivin: A Woman at the Beginning of the Music Publishing Industry

Consider this a late contribution to this year's Womens' History Month.

When most people think of the involvement of women in music they probably think of performers or composers. To be sure, women performers have been at the forefront of music for centuries, and in recent years awareness of women composers has grown enormously, particularly with those from the twentieth century. But there is at least one other music-related field in which women have made a significant mark: publishing.

Between the seventeen-century to the middle of the nineteenth-century, 

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Van Cliburn, 1934-2013

Piano pedagogue Rosina Lhevinne with her student, Van CliburnMany of us were saddened to hear of the passing of Van Cliburn on Wednesday, February 27. A pianist who excelled in music of the romantic repertoire, Cliburn rocketed to fame when he won the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, held in Moscow in 1958 at the height of the cold war. Upon his return, he was not just a 

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New Mendelssohn Discoveries in the Music Division

Felix Mendelssohn's signature from Drexel 4903It is still possible to discover amazing things in the New York Public Library in 2013, its 108th year of existence. What's even more amazing about this story is that the discovered items have been with the Library since its founding and have gone unnoticed until now. I am happy to write this story in anticipation of February 3, 2013, the 203rd birthday of composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

Part of my work in the Music Division involves cataloging scores — not newly published materials, but a portion of the over 

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Happy Public Domain Day, 2013!

No copyright!

Our markets, our democracy, our science, our traditions of free speech, and our art all depend more heavily on a Public Domain of freely available material than they do on the informational material that is covered by property rights. The Public Domain is not some gummy residue left behind when all the good stuff has been covered by property law. The Public Domain is the place we quarry the building blocks of our culture. It is, in fact, the majority of our culture. —James Boyle, The Public Domain, p.40f, 2008, quoted on the ... Read More ›

Works Created with the Help of the Music Division, 2011-2012

I'm happy to present a review of how the Music Division contributed to knowledge for 2011-2012. Although my information is based on the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, December seems like an appropriate time to post this information.

Today the pervasiveness of the Internet leads some to question the usefulness of libraries. Many try to determine a library's effectiveness by attendance: Surely 50 users in one day is better than 5? (I recall an article from library school that questioned whether it is worth collecting a book if it is consulted only once in 50 

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Students Encounter Bach at LPA

First page of Johann Sebastian Bach's manuscript to his Cantata BWV 97, "In allen meinen Taten"I am always excited when I get a chance to host a class in the Music Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.  This year, my colleague and friend Fred Fehleisen (faculty member of Mannes College The New School for Music) was teaching a class on Johann Sebastian 

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The Music of the Titanic

An oft-reproduced sheet music cover, memorializing the Titanic and the StrausesThere will probably be more written about the RMS Titanic this month than in the past 100 years. This blog entry is my contribution to the literature of the steamship and its connection to music.

The sheet music cover above (from The New York Public Library’s

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Brahms Manuscripts on Display in NYPL's Music Division

Brahms manuscripts on display in the Music DivisionBeginning March 21, 2012, the American Brahms Society, in conjunction with the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, will present Brahms in the New Century. This three-day conference will bring some of the most important Brahms scholars to New York to share their latest research and analytical insights.

In conjunction with this conference, the Music Division at 

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Walfredo Toscanini, 1928-2011

 Walfredo Toscanini (at left) with Arturo Toscanini, his grandfather, during the 1950 tour of the NBC Symphony Orchestra

It was with sad news that we heard of the passing of Walfredo Toscanni, who died on December 31, 2011.  An architect who was based in New York City, he was the grandson of conductor Arturo Toscanini and was instrumental in allowing NYPL's Music Division to obtain the Toscanini Legacy — the massive collection containing the conductor's personal papers,

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Happy New Year from NYPL's Music Division!

"Just Out" polka by Francis H. Brown (New York: Hall & Son, 1856)

Happy New Year!

Just as a new chick emerges from its shell, so does the new year come upon us. This polka was composed by Francis H. Brown (1818-1891), one of numerous and forgotten 19th-century American composers of popular music.

The colorful lithograph above was produced by the firm of Sarony, Major and Knapp. According to Wikipedia, Napoleon Sarony (1821-1896) worked as a lithographer for the noted firm of Currier & Ives, before launching his own business.

In 1867, 

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Wikipedia! The Musical! A Review!

Wikipedia! The Musical! design created by Lauren Lampasone

On October 22, “Wikipedia! The Musical!” was staged at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Despite its whimsical name, it was not really a musical but an editathon — a chance to edit Wikipedia with a group of people in an inspiring location. Though its focus was improving articles on musical theater, anyone interested in the performing arts was welcome.

For me, 

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Works Created with the Help of the Music Division, 2010-2011

As we go over statistics from the previous fiscal year (ending on June 30), we note with pleasure and pride numerous works that have been created utilizing materials from the Music Division.

Have you published a book or article, given a talk, or participated in a performance where your have benefited from research in the Music Division? We want to know about it! Please send me an e-mail so that I may include you in the list of works for the current fiscal year.

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Celebrating Lucille Ball with Music

First edition of the theme song for "I Love Lucy"

Happy belated 100th birthday to Lucille Ball!

While the Music Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts may seem peripheral to Lucille Ball and her legacy, we do have an important connection to the theme music of her first television show.

To begin with, the Music Division has what is believed to be the first edition of the show’s theme song in sheet music 

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A Spring Break Internship at LPA

Surveying an unprocessed collection

The Music Division is fortunate to have an internship program for several years. This program allows students the unique experience to see what it is like working in a large music research library. Most of our interns are library school students, but occasionally musicology students have been with us. The program is mutually beneficial with particular benefits for the intern: we give them representative projects to work on, and they in turn get to see and understand their efforts in the context of a large library. Interns have the 

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Yakov Kreizberg, 1959-2011

It can be a strange thing when professional life intersects with the personal in the form of archival documents.

For the past week, the music world has been mourning the death of conductor Yakov Kreizberg, age 51, who had been a rising star, especially in Europe. Though he performed infrequently in the United States, I had a close connection to him:  We were best friends during our college years at Mannes College The New School for Music, 1976-1979. 

One of our classes was Dr. 

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African Americans in Early American sheet music

What was the view of African Americans as reflected in early American music? Most histories of American music begin in the mid-19th century with minstrelsy or folk music (the Wikipedia entry is typical, beginning around 1850). It’s rare for studies on African American music to go back earlier, in part because there is so little.

But there is some.

In making more of our collections accessible online, I recently I scanned the card file for our AM1 collection (called 

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Remembering John McGlinn (1953-2009)

It’s been two years since the conductor John McGlinn died (sometime between Feb. 13 and 19, 2009).  McGlinn was known most for his “complete” recording of Show Boat (released 1988).  At the time, recording all of the music written for one of the seminal shows of American musical theatre history seemed like a revolutionary idea. (Some 30 minutes of material has been subsequently found.)

His interests did not begin and end with Show Boat. During the mid-1980s he reconstructed and led performances of musicals by Kern for the short-lived 

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Music Album of the Dickens Family

What better way to honor the 198th birthday of Charles Dickens than with of one of the Music Division's more unusual items: A volume of music owned by Charles Dickens and his family.

The original cataloging for this item (done decades ago) is sketchy, so I've not been able to figure out who or when it was donated to the New York Public Library, although it was probably before World War II.  The last owner 

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Who Do You Think You Are—A Musician? Genealogy in the Music Division

Genealogy is back on prime time with the resumption of the show Who Do You Think You Are?, now beginning its second season on NBC-TV on Friday, February 4th.  Genealogy is my hobby too, so I'm always excited when I can combine it with my professional activities in the Music Division.

According to the American Library Association, "Genealogical research has become one of America's favorite 

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