Today on Blogcritics
Home » Rare Music Manuscript Collection Donated to Juilliard

Rare Music Manuscript Collection Donated to Juilliard

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.”

Kovner is the founder and chairman of Caxton Associates, LLC, a manager of hedge funds active in currency, interest rate, commodity and equity markets. In addition to serving as chairman of the board of the Juilliard School, he is also vice chairman of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and chairman of the American Enterprise Institute.

Juilliard president Joseph W. Polisi virtually swooned at the gift’s announcement. “We are deeply honored by Chairman Bruce Kovner’s decision to allow Juilliard to serve as the guardian of this remarkable group of manuscripts. The presence of the collection at Juilliard signals a major institutional commitment to integrate extraordinary performance standards with the highest level of musical scholarship. Most importantly, the availability of these manuscripts will provide unprecedented opportunities for scholars and musicians at the School and elsewhere for many years to come.”

The collection will not be made available to the public, though, until fall 2009, when Juilliard’s expansion and renovation project is completed, including a Scholar’s Reading Room containing exhibit cases for use of materials from the collection, and climate-controlled and secure reading and storage rooms dedicated to the collection. The entire collection will also be digitized and a website eventually will provide virtual access to its riches.

About Eric Olsen

  • nugget

    Beethoven’s 9th. That’s incredible. Was there any description of the collection’s estimated worth?

  • Eric Olsen

    they called it “priceless” – I wonder what it cost him to compile it, especially on only ten years