Music Library Donation
Head of the Music Library Judy Tsou unpacks Arnold Shonberg's Pierrot Lunaire in the special collections room of the Allen Library. The donation nearly doubled the number of rare classical music scores in the library.
Head of the Music Library Judy Tsou unpacks Arnold Shonberg's Pierrot Lunaire in the special collections room of the Allen Library. The donation nearly doubled the number of rare classical music scores in the library.Photo by Joshua Bessex
Some of the biggest names in classical music have arrived at the UW Music Library. But rather than the musicians themselves, it’s their works that have been added to the library’s collection to give students the opportunity to bring those works to life.
Appraised at $1.3 million, the donation of 720 rare classical music scores from the estate of William Crawford III, a New York arts manager and music collector who passed away in October 2013, nearly doubles the UW’s collection of printed rare music scores.
Judy Tsou, head of the Music Library and an affiliate professor in the School of Music, said the donation, comprised mostly of first editions or first printings, features examples from almost every period of vocal music history, making it a valuable teaching tool.
“It really is a collection that allows us to use it for teaching and allows scholars to use some of these early editions that are not easily available,” Tsou said. “There’s nothing online, and even though a lot of us are digitizing some of these rare scores, there’s still not very much available.”
Richard Karpen, director of the School of Music, said the collection, which includes first editions of Johann Sebastian Bach’s passions and oratorios by Ludwig van Beethoven, has a wide range of uses for students. For students in music history courses, having access to many editions of a single piece of music can be helpful when studying the differences made to the piece over time. Meanwhile, performing students will have the option to sing and perform pieces as they were originally published.
Tsou said the fact that most of the pieces are first editions, and published during the life of the composer, is also significant.
“This is like getting back to the source,” Tsou said.
Tsou said Crawford originally approached the UW in 2000 as one of four libraries he was considering for his collection, along with three large libraries on the East Coast, saying he loved the area and that there was no other collection like this in the region.
“It really does enhance the reputation of the university, not only to have this collection, because of what’s in it, but to have been selected to have a collection like this,” Karpen said.
Crawford managed the Festival of the Two Worlds (a yearly summer music and opera festival in Spoleto, Italy), Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet, and noted musical satirist Peter Schickele. He spent more than four decades cataloging his collection.
Among the hundreds of music scores, Tsou noted a set of six canzonettas, or original voice compositions, signed by composer Joseph Haydn, as particularly significant. The pieces, appraised at $11,000, had been misplaced in Crawford’s apartment and were only found when Tsou agreed to take his regular collection along with the rare scores.
“If I had not wanted the regular books, it would have gone to someone else,” Tsou said.
Moving forward, the Music Library plans to have the collection cataloged with money left by Crawford, and hopes to raise more money to digitize the collection to make it available to anyone online. However, Karpen said there’s still something special about having the hard copy editions.
“It’s some kind of connection to the past that you don’t get by just looking at a copy,” Karpen said. “You know that it was real, you know that it existed. It’s sort of like going to a museum and seeing a painting or sculpture from the past, and knowing the artist actually touched that.”
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