Special Collections

In addition to a large collection of early editions of musical scores and books, the Music Library also has the following special collections:

Edison Sheet Music Collection

The Edison Sheet Music Collection was gathered at the behest of Thomas Edison ca. 1915 to 1925 and used by the Edison Phonograph Company in selecting music to record. Aiming to collect as much music as they could, and with an emphasis on older music (pre-1900), they scoured music publishers and music stores and bought some music secondhand. All of this was for the purpose of allowing the Edison Company's Music Room staff and Edison himself to choose which music should be recorded on Edison cylinders. Edison believed that having an enormous collection from which to select the best music was a more scientific approach to recording music than his competitors were using.

After the recording arm of the Edison company closed in 1928, the sheet music was shipped to Dearborn, Michigan in 1930, intended for Henry Ford's Edison Institute. It filled 98 wooden crates and was estimated to contain 150,000 to 200,000 items. Henry Ford's niece inherited the collection in 1948 and sold it intact to Bly Corning, a Flint-area manufacturer, in 1964. Corning gave several thousands of pieces to the University of Michigan's Clements Library and Music Library in the 1960s-70s, and the University purchased the residue of American publications (ca. 115,000 pieces) accompanied by a small amount of Edison papers in 1989. The University of Michigan Library bought the final parts of the collection remaining in the Corning family in 2015.

The current Edison Collection held by the Music Library consists of approximately 135,850 pieces that comprehensively document the published sheet music available in America before 1920. It is thought to be among the three largest collections of American 19th-century music in existence. About 10% of the collection was published in Europe, but the frequent occurrence of stamps from American music stores shows that it too can be counted among the music available to the American public. Another 10% or so of the collection dates from 1900 or after (up to ca. 1925). Publishers from across the country are represented, as well as both vocal and instrumental music of all types. The topics covered in the vocal works mirror the popular topics of every decade of American life in the 19th century, from politics and war, to home life and fashion trends. There is also a small archive associated with the collection, including some 900 letters from homespun composers offering their works for recording and about 2,100 answers to a musical preference survey conducted among people who owned Edison Phonograph players in 1921.

Some 15,000 pieces from the collection, including the American publications from 1860 or earlier, are cataloged and in Mirlyn. Requests for use can be placed at the Music Library circulation desk or by emailing music.library@umich.edu; please note that the materials are housed off-site and must be requested in advance. They are also available in a microfilm collection entitled "The Thomas A. Edison Collection of American Music" published by Primary Source Media in 2000. The University Library and Music Library are in an active partnership to make the remainder of the collection available for scholarship within the next several years.

Women Composers Collection

The Women Composers Collection contains approximately 2800 musical works by women composers. With the exception of several dozen 18th-century works, the music is almost evenly divided between the 19th and 20th centuries. Songs and solo piano music predominate, though choral, orchestral, dramatic, and chamber music are also represented.

The bulk of the collection was assembled by a British antiquarian, from whom the Library purchased the collection in 1980, after which the Music Library added several hundred more works. Most of the scores are first or early editions, and since many of the works were never republished, much of the content is rare or even unique. Some pieces include markings or corrections from the composers themselves, and nearly 250 are manuscripts.

The collection contains the works of more than 700 composers. The majority are French or British, but composers of the United States, Germany, and elsewhere are included. Among those most heavily represented are Loïsa Puget, Cécile Chaminade, Augusta Holmès, Pauline Viardot, Ethel Smyth, Jeanne Boyd, Jane Vieu, Elizabeth Gould, Hedwige Chrétien, Harriet Ware, Carrie Jacobs-Bond, Pauline Duchambge, and Liza Lehmann, Virginia Gabriel, Marguerite Roesgen-Champion, Mel Bonis, and Evelyn Sharp.

All the scores in this collection appear in Mirlyn and can be retrieved with the phrase "women composers collection." The scores have also been digitized, and approximately 80% are available full-text through Mirlyn as well as through HathiTrust. See the following link to view the full collection in HathiTrust: http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/mb?a=listis&c=1346310894

Ivan Galamian Collection

Ivan Galamian (1903-1981) studied violin with Konstantin Mostras in Moscow and Lucien Capet in Paris before coming to the United States in 1937. He quickly established himself as a leading violin teacher, with appointments to the faculties of the Curtis Institute and Juilliard and the establishment of his own summer school at Meadowmount. He published two method books on the violin: Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching and Contemporary Violin Technique. Galamian's students include Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman, Jamie Laredo, and Michael Rabin.

In 1990 Galamian’s widow donated her husband’s personal collection of scores to the University of Michigan Music Library. The Ivan Galamian Collection contains 257 items, including scores given to Galamian by his teachers, Mostras and Capet. The scores in this collection feature fingerings, bowings, and other markings written in Galamian’s hand, which provide valuable insights into his approach to teaching and performing these works. All the scores in this collection appear in Mirlyn and can be retrieved with the phrase "ivan galamian collection."

Michael Rabin Collection

Michael Rabin (1936-1972), an American violinist who studied with Ivan Galamian, began his brilliant solo career while still a teenager. Upon his tragic death at the age of thirty-five, Rabin’s personal collection of scores was given to Ivan Galamian.

In 1990 Galamian’s widow donated her husband’s scores to the Music Library, including those that had belonged to Rabin. The Michael Rabin Collection contains 118 items. The scores in this collection feature fingerings, bowings, and other markings written either by Galamian during Rabin’s lessons with him, or by Rabin himself in later years. All the scores in this collection appear in Mirlyn and can be retrieved with the phrase "michael rabin collection."

Glenn Osser Collection

The Osser Collection was donated by Abraham “Glenn” Osser (1914-2014), a University of Michigan alumnus with a highly successful career as a musical arranger and conductor. The collection contains 648 manuscript scores and parts for music arranged and composed by Osser during his career as a staff conductor for the ABC network (1947-69), as music director of the Miss America pageant, and as the arranger/conductor on numerous recordings. There are 480 arrangements of Broadway showtunes, folk music, light classics, and popular hits of the day, representing Osser’s activities when live music was standard in broadcasting, as well as his recordings with singers such as Tony Bennett, Vic Damone, Roubert Goulet, and Johnny Mathis. The collection also includes approximately 80 original compositions of theme and background music for television, many of which were written for weekly dramas broadcast on The Alcoa Hour and The Goodyear Playhouse. Finally, there are 90 examples of Osser’s compositions for radio and television commercials. All the materials in this collection appear in Mirlyn and can be retrieved with the phrase “glenn osser collection.” Please note that these materials are shelved off-site and must be requested in advance.

Page maintained by Jason Imbesi
Last modified: 02/05/2016