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 holdings of the Music Library include a special collection of scores by women composers of art music from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries.

As rare materials these scores do not circulate, but they may be viewed within the Music Library. All of the scores in this collection have been cataloged and can be searched in Mirlyn. To browse the entire collection, do an "All Fields" search in Mirlyn on the phrase "women composers collection." To search within the collection, combine "women composers collection" with additional terms. For example:

"women composers collection" AND beach

Ivan Galamian Collection

Ivan Galamian lived from 1903 to 1981. After violin studies with Konstantin Mostras in Moscow and Lucien Capet in Paris, Galamian came to the United States in 1937 and 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 such noted players as Michael Rabin, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman, and Jamie Laredo.

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.

As rare material these scores do not circulate, but they may be viewed within the Music Library. All of the scores in this collection have been cataloged and can be searched in Mirlyn. To browse the entire collection, do an "All Fields" search in Mirlyn on the phrase "ivan galamian collection." To search within the collection, combine "ivan galamian collection" with additional terms. For example:

"ivan galamian collection" AND rachmaninoff

Michael Rabin Collection

Michael Rabin lived from 1936 to 1972. After violin studies with Ivan Galamian, Rabin began a brilliant career as a soloist while still in his youth. 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.

As rare material these scores do not circulate, but they may be viewed within the Music Library. All of the scores in this collection have been cataloged and can be searched in Mirlyn. To browse the entire collection, do an "All Fields" search in Mirlyn on the phrase "michael rabin collection", then limit your results to show only musical scores. To search within the collection, combine "michael rabin collection" with additional terms. For example:

"michael rabin collection" AND tchaikovsky

 

 

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Last modified: 03/30/2015