New York City's famed Juilliard School — one of the richest musical environments in the world — just got quite a bit richer with an exceptional gift honoring its centennial year. Yesterday, Juilliard's chairman Bruce Kovner announced he has donated his collection of rare music manuscripts by such cornerstones of the canon as J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Stravinsky, Mahler, Purcell, Schumann, Strauss, and dozens of others to the school.
Consisting of about 140 items, the Juilliard Manuscript Collection — as it is to be called — is considered one of the finest private collections of music scores to be assembled in the last century. Among the notables in the trove of manuscripts are a transposed continuo part to Bach's Cantata BWV 176 ("Es ist ein trotzig und verzagt Ding"); Beethoven's piano version of his Grosse Fuge for string quartet; Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the composer's final pre-printer revisions, corrections, and alterations; the final scene of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro; a portion of Mahler's Ninth Symphony; one of the earliest surviving manuscripts of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas; and an autograph sketchbook for Stravinsky's Petrushka.
Several manuscripts and groups of manuscripts in the collection have never previously been available to scholars and musicians in the United States. The Collection sheds particular light on the compositional process through extensive revisions and annotations by the composers, and also has a number of documents of note to the history of performance, such as Arturo Toscanini's heavily annotated score for Wagner's Die Walküre.
Remarkably, Kovner assembled the collection, most via auction, over a frenetic period of only about ten years. "It has been great fun to find these manuscripts and pull them together into this collection," he said. "I trust that what we are doing at the School will make it possible for Juilliard students and scholars to delve into the compositional processes of these great composers – and share them with the rest of the world."