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 material 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 have not subsequently been re-published, 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, 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

Montgomery Sheet Music Collection

The Montgomery Collection was assembled over a thirty-year period by Michael Montgomery, a U-M alumnus, jazz and ragtime pianist, and sheet music collector. The collection contains more than 20,000 pieces, dating primarily from 1900 to 1950, though there is some earlier and later material. The collection provides exceptional documentation of popular music in the early twentieth century, with works by both well-known and unfamiliar composers. Some of the more heavily represented composers include Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael, George M. Cohan, Con Conrad, Peter DeRose, Walter Donaldson, Fred Fisher, Cliff Friend, Albert Gumble, Ray Henderson, Jerome Kern, Jack Little, Jimmy McHugh, George Meyer, James Monaco, Theodore Morse, Cole Porter, Fred Rose, Jean Schwartz, Jule Styne, Egbert Van Alstyne, Jimmy Van Heusen, Harry Warren, and Richard Whiting.

 A significant feature of this collection is its heavy concentration of music by black American composers (an estimated 4500 songs) and songs demonstrating contemporary attitudes toward blacks in American society. Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Eubie Blake, W. C. Handy, James P. Johnson, Shelton Brooks, Chris Smith, and Gussie Davis are among those represented in the collection.

Cataloging of the Montgomery Collection is currently underway. More than 10,000 items appear in Mirlyn and can be retrieved by searching on the phrase “montgomery collection.”

Ignaz Brüll Scores

The Music Library holds more than a hundred first and early editions of Austrian pianist and composer Ignaz Brüll (1846-1907). Brüll was a member of the Brahms circle in Vienna and was a close friend of Brahms. Brüll’s most successful work was the opera Das Goldene Kreuz, which premiered in Berlin in 1875 and enjoyed many subsequent performances. His varied output includes symphonies, serenades, piano concerti, a violin concerto, chamber music, piano music, operas, and solo songs. All of the library's Brüll holdings appear in Mirlyn, and most are also available in full-text in the U.S. via Mirlyn and HathiTrust.

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 show tunes, 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, Robert 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.

René Becker Collection

The Music Library holds a collection of more than 350 scores of the composer René Becker (1882-1956), some 270 of which are holograph manuscripts. René Louis Becker was born in Bischheim, France, into a musical family, and studied piano, organ, and composition at the Strasbourg Conservatory. He emigrated to the United States in 1904, beginning his career as a teacher, composer, and performer in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1930 he moved to Michigan, serving as organist first in Detroit’s Blessed Sacrament Cathedral and later in Dearborn’s St. Alphonsus, from which he retired at the age of 70. Becker was a prolific composer of organ and piano music, and his works range from large, multi-movement sonatas to small character pieces. Though largely forgotten today, Becker’s music was championed by prominent figures including Albert Riemenschneider, and recent recordings of his organ music have elicited enthusiastic reviews regarding the quality of his work. All of the René Becker scores appear in Mirlyn and can be viewed at this link.

Evangeline Lehman Papers

The Music Library holds a collection of archival materials related to Evangeline Lehman (1896-1975), an American composer, singer, and teacher born in Northville, Michigan. Lehman studied at the Oberlin Conservatory and the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau; she remained eight years in France, studying with Isidore Philipp, Charles Marie Widor, Marcel Dupré, Maurice Dumesnil, and Camille Decreus. In 1933, her oratorio Sainte Thérèse de l'Enfant Jésus won a silver medal from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Many of her compositions were widely performed in France and the United States, and she appeared as a soloist with major American and European orchestras.

This collection contains printed music, music manuscripts, and writings of Evangeline Lehman, as well as correspondence (business and private), newspaper clippings, photographs, and medals. A finding aid for the collection can be seen here: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/f/findaid/idx/m/mlibraryead/umich-mlib-lehman

Leo Sarkisian Voice of America African Music Collection

Leo Sarkisian was the creator and host of the long-running weekly radio program “Music Time in Africa” for Voice of America. Working for the U.S. Information Agency under Edward R. Murrow, Sarkisian documented music throughout the continent while also assisting newly independent African nations in setting up national radio stations. During five decades of traveling and recording music in Africa, he interviewed scores of musicians and compiled an enormous collection of recordings that reflect the continent’s broad heritage of traditional and popular music.

The Music Library houses a digitized selection of 360 recordings from the collection. While most are recordings of the radio broadcasts, the collection also includes unpublished field recordings. In 2009, VOA entered an agreement with the University of Michigan Library to digitize the reels that comprise the collection for preservation purposes and to provide access for teaching, research, and other non-commercial purposes. A finding aid for the collection, including an index of the recordings, can be seen here: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/f/findaid/idx/m/mlibraryead/umich-mlib-sarkisian

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."

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Last modified: 08/24/2016