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Researchers' Guides to the Collections | Music Manuscripts & Printed Music
The Morgan Library's collection of classical, popular, and folk music includes autograph scores, composers' letters, printed music, and other printed materials. The Library houses the largest collection of Mahler manuscripts anywhere as well as substantial holdings of Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Mozart, Schubert, and Richard Strauss. The collection spans six centuries and many countries.
Although Pierpont Morgan is not on record as evincing
any notable interest in music, he did make two important purchases:
the two earliest dated letters of the thirteen-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart and the manuscript of Ludwig van Beethoven's
Heineman and Cary Collections: Bach, Chopin, Mozart, Mahler
The Library's music collection is the result of the generosity of several donors. In 1962 the Dannie and Hettie Heineman Collection was placed on deposit, adding a small but exceedingly well chosen selection of music manuscripts. Formally given to the Library in 1977, it is one of the most important and valuable gifts the Library has received. Among its highlights are the only surviving portion of Bach's Cantata no. 197a (Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe) and Chopin's Polonaise in A-flat, op. 53.
In 1968 the Library became a major repository of music
manuscripts with the donation of Mary Flagler Cary's extraordinary collection
of music manuscripts, letters, and printed scores, one of the greatest
of its kind in the United States. Fully three quarters of the manuscripts
date from the nineteenth century, with major works by Beethoven, Schubert,
Brahms, and Chopin. In addition the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust
provided funds for the acquisition of such singularly important manuscripts
as Mozart's "Haffner" Symphony,
James Fuld Collection
In 1989 the Library agreed to purchase the James Fuld Collection, by all accounts the finest private collection of printed music in the world. It comprises thousands of first editions of worksAmerican and European, classical, popular, and folkfrom the eighteenth century to the present. In addition to scores and sheet music, Fuld acquired related material, including letters, manuscripts, programs, posters, photographs, and other so-called ephemera.
The collection contains legendary rarities such as the first issue of The Star-Spangled Banner as well as first editions of important American musical works such as America, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Dixie (one of three known copies), Happy Birthday to You, Jingle Bells, and St. Louis Blues (signed by W. C. Handy). It also includes the probable first edition of the Neapolitan song Santa Lucia (ca. 1850), an early printing of Greensleeves (1701), and the first edition of Stille Nacht (Silent Night).
Letters, Opera, Juvenilia
In addition to the letters of Gilbert and Sullivan described below, the Library houses about seven thousand letters of musicians. The earliest, dated 1547, is by Nicolas Gombert. Substantial later holdings include letters of Berlioz, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Schoenberg, and Wagner.
The Library has a rich collection of opera sources, from a rare early edition of Rinuccini's libretto for L'Arianna (1608), Monteverdi's second opera, to John Eaton's Danton and Robespierre (1978), for which the Library owns the composer's working manuscript, a typescript of the libretto annotated by the composer, and a communication from Eaton on the writing of the opera.
A fine collection of musical juvenilia includes music manuscripts, printed songbooks, and pictures of young musicians. Highlights are the manuscripts of the earliest known works by Mozartfour short keyboard pieces written when he was fiveand a fantasy for piano, four hands, composed by Schubert at the age of thirteen. The collection also contains portraits of such young musicians as seven-year-old Willy Ferrero (1906-1954), billed as "The Youngest Symphony Conductor in the World."
The Robert Owen Lehman Collection, on deposit, is the world's finest private collection of music manuscripts. The nucleus is a splendid group of manuscripts that once belonged to the eminent French pianist and collector Alfred Cortot. The collection is especially strong in French music, notably that of Debussy and Ravel. Highlights include Bach's Cantata 171 (Gott, wie dein Name, so ist auch dein Ruhm); Brahms's Symphony no. 2; Chopin's Variations on "Là ci darem la mano," op. 2; the short score of Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune; the Franck Violin Sonata; the Liszt Piano Sonata; Mahler's Symphonies nos. 3 and 9; Mendelssohn's Hebrides overture; nine Mozart symphonies; Ravel's Bolero and Piano Concerto for the Left Hand; Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire; Schumann's Symphony no. 2; Stravinsky's Petrushka; and Weber's Clarinet Concerto no. 2. Mr. Lehman has been the Library's most generous music donor. His gifts, beginning in 1968, include manuscripts of Fauré, Saint-Saëns, Berlioz, Liszt, and Webern.
The Charles Alvar Harding Collection comprises autograph letters of musicians and literary figures, some printed books, and many photographs. About 350 Verdi printed scores and librettos were the gift of George W. Martin. Sarah C. Fenderson presented the Library with Berlioz letters, album leaves, and part of the manuscript of his Mémoires.
Gilbert and Sullivan: A Very Model
The Library's collection of materials relating to the
lives and works of the dramatist William S. Gilbert and
Some of the items in the Gilbert and Sullivan collection are important for obvious reasons: they are first editions or autograph manuscripts and letters. Other items, such as programs, newspaper cuttings, and nineteenth-century biographies, are important for documentary reasons. Posters, sheet music covers, photographs, and newspaper and magazine illustrations are of iconographic significance. Advertisements and twentieth-century programs help to document the sustained popularity of the operas.
A brief description of the Library's holdings in medieval music will be found in the section on Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts.
CORSAIR, the Morgan's online collection catalog, is available here.