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Rare Mozart, Beethoven works acquired by library

By Christine Farmer
(from the Washington University Record, 10/28/99)

Hugh Macdonald, Ph.D., the Avis Blewett Professor of Music and chair of the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, looks on as Seth Carlin, professor of piano, practices a piece from a recently acquired collection of first and early editions of Beethoven and Mozart.
Hugh Macdonald, Ph.D., the Avis Blewett Professor of Music and chair of the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, looks on as Seth Carlin, professor of piano, practices a piece from a recently acquired collection of first and early editions of Beethoven and Mozart.

A rare collection of first and early printed editions of music by Mozart and Beethoven has been acquired by the University's Gaylord Music Library. An exhibition, which runs through Jan. 7, and a recital at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, mark the acquisition.

"This is a tremendous acquisition -- the kind that has 1,001 uses," said Brad Short, music librarian. "It will continue to be exceedingly important for scholarly research as well as practical uses."

The rare printed scores are invaluable for those interested in music source studies, music printing and the way music was published and distributed.

"Washington University is proud to be a central location for the pursuit of Mozart and Beethoven research in the coming years," said Hugh Macdonald, Ph.D., the Avis Blewett Professor of Music and chair of the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences.

Alan Tyson, an eminent British musicologist known for his study of watermarks and of the compositional practices of the two Viennese composers, assembled the collection. The University purchased it from him.

"This is the first time in more than two decades that the Gaylord Music Library has made a purchase of this magnitude," said Nathan Eakin, library associate for reference and special collections.

Though all of the Mozart scores in the collection were published posthumously, many are nevertheless first editions, because much of the composer's work went unpublished during his lifetime. The collection of Beethoven scores also includes several first editions, particularly of the composer's orchestral works and string quartets. Together, the collection documents the public reception of both composers' works between 1790 and 1830, the period during which they came to be seen as leading masters of their age.

The Olin Library Special Collections exhibit, "Wolfgang and Ludwig -- As Heard by Their Friends," features a number of scores from the collection. It is free and open to the public. Special Collections is located on the fifth floor; hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information about the exhibit, call 935-5495.

"The exhibit offers examples of different types of music printing from the late 18th and early 19th centuries," Short said. "The various methods of typesetting are what also make this era unique. Some music was done with printsetting, others by lithograph, stamping, freehand, with copper engraving or burned in. There was a lot going on in the field of printing then, and by looking at the bindings you can also see how music was marketed and preserved."

The collection, which contains about 300 pieces, was obtained with Macdonald's help; he was a colleague of Tyson's at Oxford more than 20 years ago.

"When his collection became available I knew the dealer handling it in England," Macdonald said. "This material is a treasure. It brings the music of Mozart and Beethoven vibrantly to life."

At the Oct. 29 recital, Macdonald will open with a short commentary about Tyson, his achievements and the collection.

Seth Carlin, professor of piano in the music department, will perform works taken from the collection on the fortepiano. Lori Barrett-Pagano, soprano; Maryse Carlin, fortepiano, and Beth Felice, violin, also will perform. The program will include an arrangement of Mozart's overture to "The Marriage of Figaro" for four hands; Mozart's "Sonata for Violin and Fortepiano, K. 302"; and a group of Mozart's songs. The program also will feature Beethoven's "Sonata in D Major, op. 28," the "Pastorale."

The recital, which is free and open to the public, takes place in Steinberg Hall Auditorium. For more information about the concert, call 935-4841.