Current Exhibitions & Events

Celebrating Composers: Bartók, Beeson, and a Host of Others in Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Kempner Gallery
June 15 – August 14, 2015

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Columbia University is remounting the major exhibition of selected items from the papers of composers held by the Library. Composers featured in the exhibition include Columbia Music Department members, such as Edward MacDowell, founder of the department, Daniel Gregory Mason, Douglas Moore, Jack Beeson, Vladimir Ussachevsky, and George Edwards. Other composers whose works are in the exhibition include George Antheil, Béla Bartók, Nicolai Berezowsky, Harry Lawrence Freeman, Ulysses Kay, Jerome Moross, Sid Ramin, Eda Rapoport, and Virgil Thomson.

Complementing the exhibition is a separate Chang Octagon exhibition drawn from the newly acquired papers of Serge Prokofiev (see a separate description below)

Featured in “Celebrating Composers” are the papers of Anton Seidl, who as a young man was one of Richard Wagner’s “chose few” assistants. Hired by the Metropolitan Opera in 1885, and subsequently a conductor for the New York Philharmonic, Seidl died suddenly at the height of this career in 1898. His papers and scores were presented to Columbia by “The Friends of Anton Seidl.” On display are his notebooks that he kept for the first Ring productions at Bayreuth, giving the names of all the singers and orchestra members, and notes on stage directions.

Harry Lawrence Freeman received the nickname the “Black Wagner” in the 19th century for his prolific output as an opera composer. Founder of the Negro Opera Company, he wrote at least 23 operas. On display is the manuscript of his opera “Voodoo,” that will be given concert performances by Morningside Opera, Harlem Opera Theater and the Harlem Chamber Players, along with his unpublished history of African-American music and theater.

Béla Bartók received a Ditson Fellowship, as well as an honorary doctoral degree, from Columbia. Before his death from leukemia in 1945, Bartók presented to Columbia the manuscript of his major work meticulously documenting the vocal and instrumental folk music of Rumania, on display along with material presented by his student and friend, Tibor Serly.

From the papers of Jerome Moross, the exhibition will include the scores for two of his major musicals, “Broadway Ballads” and “The Golden Apple,” along with cast photographs, set designs, posters, and congratulatory telegrams from Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal, drawn from the papers of his librettist, John Latouche.

George Antheil, a teacher of Jerome Moross, is represented by the corrected proof copy of his Symphony No. 4 (1942), along with letters written by Alexander Calder, Ernest Hemingway, and James Joyce.

Ulysses Kay, who studied with Otto Leuning at Columbia on a Ditson fellowship, wrote a wide range of vocal, instrumental, and keyboard works. On display will be the manuscript scores of “Danse Calinda,” the documentary film “The Quiet One,” and his last major work, the opera “Frederick Douglass.”

Sid Ramin’s papers include his orchestrations for “West Side Story,” “Gypsy,” and “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” as well as his television and commercial work. He received a Grammy award for the Broadway production of “West Side Story,” and an Academy Award for the film version, and also orchestrated the widely performed “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” dedicated to him “in friendship” by Leonard Bernstein.

On display from the Douglas Moore papers will be photographs and memorabilia relating to his opera “The Ballad of Baby Doe” and other works. The manuscript score of Jack Beeson’s opera “Dr. Heiddigger’s Fountain of Youth” is on display, along with photographs and set and costume designs for “Lizzie Borden” from the original production by the New York City Opera in 1965.

The exhibition will also include items representing the many music composition prizes and awards given annually by Columbia University, including the Ditson Fund awards, the Bearns Prize, the Rapoport Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize in Music. Examples are: Milton Babbitt’s “Music for the Mass,” awarded the Bearns Prize in 1941, given to composers aged 18 to 25 during the award year; David Froom’s “Two Songs” by Gwendolyn Brooks, that received the Rapoport Prize for chamber music in 1982; and Ellen Zwilich’s “Three Movements for Orchestra (Symphony No. 1)” that received the Pulitzer Prize in Music for 1983.

The Serge Prokofiev Archive

Chang Octagon Exhibition Room
June 15 – August 14, 2015

Selections from the Serge Prokofiev Archive are on display from June 15 through August 14, 2015, in the Chang Octagon Exhibition Room of Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Come and see sixteen of the manuscript scores that were formerly in storage at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. The exhibition is divided into six groups: the Prokofiev family, piano music, opera and vocal music, orchestral music, chamber music, and ballet and film music.

Shown in the section on the family is a notebook ca. 1920 used by Prokofiev for addresses, including that of his New York agent, Haensel & Jones, located in Aeolian Hall on 42nd Street, and the Paris addresses of Serge Koussevitsky and his future wife Linette [Lina] Codina; a notebook of his musical ideas, dated 1919 on the cover; and a small portion of the “Memoirs of Lina Prokofieva” (1982), wherein she describes the first time that she saw Prokofiev, when he gave the United States premier of his 1st Piano Concerto in Carnegie Hall on December 10, 1918.

Piano works on display include two working scores, for the solo piano and orchestral, of his Piano Concerto No. 5, Opus 55 (1932), and No. 1 of his “Two Sonatinas for Piano,” Opus 54 (1931).

Representing opera and vocal music are the manuscripts of the condensed orchestral score of “The Gambler,” Opus 24 (1927 revision); the orchestral score of “Egyptian Nights,” Opus 61(1933-1934); and the printed piano vocal score, of “Love for Three Oranges” given to Lina Prokofiev in 1986 by James Lockart, Head of Opera at the Royal College of Music, with the English translation of the text made by Tom Stoppard written in by hand.

Orchestral works are represented by the manuscript score of his Symphony No. 3, Opus 44 (1928), and the condensed orchestral score of his “Symphonic Song,” Opus 57 (1932-1933).

Prokofiev’s chamber works on display include the manuscript condensed score of his String Quartet No. 1, Opus 50 (1930), the manuscript of his Sonata for Two Violins, Opus 56 (1932), and a printed score with his pencil annotations for orchestration of the “Overture on Hebrew Themes,” Opus 34 (1919) dated 1934.

Ballet and film music manuscripts on display include the condensed orchestral scores of “Matelote,” (Related to Opus 39 and 43) (1925) and “Le Pas d’acier,” Opus 41 (1925); the orchestral score of a portion of “The Prodigal Son,” Opus 46 (1928); and the mimeograph typescript with pencil annotations of the film scenario for “Lieutenant Kijé,” Opus 60 (1934).

Additional RBML-related events

Please visit the calendar on the Alumni and Friends Gateway, and the RBML Book History Colloquium or call us as 212-854-5590 for additional information.