Juilliard Launches Website for Manuscript Collection

Classic Arts News   Juilliard Launches Website for Manuscript Collection
The Juilliard School has launched a website containing high-resolution photographs of about 70% of the extensive manuscript collection donated last year by board chairman Bruce Kovner.

Approximately 8,000 pages of the manuscripts are now viewable on the site in striking detail. The site uses Zoomify technology, allowing for quick magnification, and its photos were taken by Ardon Bar Hama (who digitized the Dead Sea Scrolls) on a $30,000 Leaf Aptus 75 digital camera.

Forty-two composers, ranging from Purcell to Peter Maxwell Davies, are represented on the site. Special documents of note are those with extensive revisions and annotations made by the composer's own hand:

  • J.S. Bach's Cantata BWV 176, Es ist ein trotzig und verzagt Ding (transposed continuo part)
  • Beethoven's Fidelio (excerpt of a working manuscript)
  • Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (first known sketches and manuscript prepared for the printer)
  • Brahms's Second Symphony (copyist's manuscript)
  • Brahms's Second Piano Concerto (first edition)
  • Brahms's Klavierst‹cke, Op. 118 and Op. 119 (engraver's proofs)
  • Liszt's Ann_es de plerinage, 3e ann_e, Jeux d'Eaux š la Vlla d'Este
  • Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (copyist's manuscript)

The site also contains Beethoven's Grosse Fuge arranged by the composer for piano four-hands; the final scene of Mozart's Nozze di Figaro; Purcell's earliest surviving manuscripts (of Dido & Aeneas and The Tempest); a working manuscript and heavily-worked draft of Schubert's Violin Sonata D. 384; the continuous and nearly complete draft of Schumann's Second Symphony; and Toscanini's marked-up copy of Wagner's Die Walk‹re.

From Wagner's meticulous scoring to Leonard Bernstein's caricatures of Copland, viewers are also acquainted with the composer's personality through his penmanship, scribbles and assorted drawings, probably the most immediately alluring element of such documents.

The majority of the remaining scores not digitally represented are early and first published editions. "The focus [of the website] is on the dissemination of the unique sources of the collection," Juilliard Library vice president Jane Gottlieb told PlaybillArts. "We do plan to include the Schnittke collection of manuscripts in the near future," she added.

The site has had 6,317 visitors (85% unique) since its announcement last month, said Gottlieb.

A climate-controlled reading room that will house the entire collection is scheduled for completion in fall 2009. The annual cost of the maintaining the collection will amount to six figures, The New York Times quoted Juilliard president Joseph Pollisi saying. Access to the collection will be limited to researchers and students for whom facsimiles are not adequate in their investigations.

Kovner, the founder and chairman of the hedge fund Caxton Associates, procured the 138-manuscript collection over 11 years. He has not publicly stated the collection's total worth; the Times reported that Beethoven's Grosse Fuge arrangement and the Ninth Symphony manuscript sold for $1.95 million and $3.5 million, both at Sotheby's.

"It has been great fun to find these manuscripts and pull them together into this collection," said Kovner in a press release.

The Juilliard Manuscript Collection is available at www.juilliardmanuscriptcollection.org.

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