The preservation project focuses on endangered master recordings of early works by significant figures in American classical music made from 1942 to 1951 and includes compositions by Samuel Barber, Gian Carlo Menotti, Douglas Moore, and Virgil Thomson. The recordings in the Ditson Archive represent a pivotal moment in the history of American classical music, encompassing the ‘Americanist’ style of Copland and Thomson and the more experimental work of figures like Barber and William Schuman.
“This unique collection enjoys a special relationship with Columbia University, as much of the material contained in it was made possible by the Alice M. Ditson Fund and under the aegis of the Music Department,” said Elizabeth Davis, Head of Columbia’s Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library. “With the help of the GRAMMY Foundation and through the Libraries’ stewardship and preservation activities, an important body of twentieth-century American music is being cared for and made accessible to scholars and performers.”
The project will clean, rehouse, and create digital copies of deteriorating tapes and discs, many of which were recorded at an annual weeklong festival of American music sponsored by the Ditson Fund from 1945 to 1952. A list of the digitized recordings will be made available on the Columbia Libraries web site, where it will be accessible to anyone searching the Internet. Students, faculty, and researchers will be able to listen to the recordings in Columbia’s Music & Arts Library.
The Ditson Fund at Columbia University was established in 1940 to support performances, publications, and recordings of works by younger or relatively unknown contemporary American composers. The Fund was set up through a bequest from Alice Ditson, wife of the noted Boston music publisher Oliver Ditson, and honored Columbia’s distinguished and influential Department of Music.
Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/ is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.
The GRAMMY Foundation was established in 1989 to cultivate the understanding, appreciation and advancement of the contribution of recorded music to American culture—from the artistic and technical legends of the past to the still unimagined musical breakthroughs of future generations of music professionals. The Foundation accomplishes this mission through programs and activities that engage the music industry and cultural community as well as the general public. The Foundation works in partnership year-round with The Recording Academy to bring national attention to important issues such as the value and impact of music and arts education and the urgency of preserving our rich cultural heritage. For more information, please visit
Organized in 1974, the Columbia Libraries Preservation Division is one of the five oldest library preservation programs in the United States. The division has primary responsibility for maintaining the Libraries' collections through proper care, housing, and disaster prevention. The division provides treatment of items to ensure their continued availability for use, and copying to new formats when use is no longer possible due to damage or severe deterioration. Materials in all formats and genres are cared for by the division, including digital resources created by the Libraries. For more information, visit: