The collection, donated to the Raynor Memorial Libraries' Department of Special Collections and University Archives, was the gift of Marquette alumnus Paul Salsini, a journalist and Sondheim enthusiast. Salsini was the co-founder of The Sondheim Review in 1994 and was its editor for ten years.
"Amassed in the last 40 years, the collection includes books, magazines, scripts, scores, articles, reviews, programs, compact discs, long-playing records, audiotapes, videotapes, posters, window cards and other memorabilia relating to Sondheim shows," according to an Aug. 8 statement from the university.
Sondheim's groundbreaking Broadway musicals (written with many different librettists and developed by many directors over the years) include West Side Story, Gypsy, Company, A Little Night Music, Follies, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park With George.
"This collection is a valuable resource for future Sondheim scholars, theatre artists and the Marquette University community," stated Stephen Hudson-Mairet, chair of performing and media arts in the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication. "The depth of information in this collection is fascinating and enjoyable to examine, and it will be invaluable to future Sondheim researchers."
The collection includes hundreds of articles, reviews and features about each of Sondheim's two dozen musicals, revues and films. There are more than 600 programs and Playbills from productions on Broadway and elsewhere, more than 400 audiotapes, 200 videotapes, and 100 compact discs of Sondheim shows. "There are even more than four dozen personal letters written from Sondheim to Salsini, written during the time he was editing the Sondheim Review," according to the university. "The letters most often comment on articles that appeared in the publication." Salsini, a former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter and Marquette instructor, said in a statement, "I'm delighted that what has been my hobby, even my passion, for many years will be available for those who want to study the works of a man universally recognized as the greatest living Broadway composer and lyricist."
It is thought to be the largest research collection of Sondheim material outside of Sondheim's papers that have been committed to the Library of Congress. Over the years, Salsini made his collection available to Sondheim biographers. It will also be of use to those studying Broadway and American musical history in the past half-century said Matt Blessing, Head of Special Collections and University Archives.
Researchers seeking access to the collection may call (414) 288-7256. An exhibit highlighting the collection will be on display in the lobby of the Raynor Library Oct. 10-Nov. 28.