Music – Krummel, Donald W. [The Music Collections at] The Newberry Library, Chicago

Franchinus Gaffurius. Practica musice Franchini Gafori laudensis.
Franchinus Gaffurius. Practica musice Franchini Gafori laudensis. 1496. Inc. 6067.

From Fontes Artis Musicae 16.3 (1969): 119-134.

The Newberry Library, a privately-supported humanities research library, is to be found on Chicago’s near-north side, about a mile from the center of the city. It was established through the will of Walter Loomis Newberry (1804-1869), a Chicago pioneer merchant; founded in 1887 following the death of his heirs; and located in its present building in 1893. Its concentration in the humanities has resulted from a cooperative agreement in 1895, at which time the John Crerar Library assumed responsibility for the Chicago area for scientific materials, and the Chicago Public Library for the general needs of the public (including a circulating music collection). Working within the humanities, the Newberry inevitably came to develop special collections, music being of prime importance along with Americana (especially materials on discovery, the American Indian, and the early West); Italian Renaissance; history of printing, libraries, and bibliography; Portugalia; and early English books.

The music collection covers primary and secondary source materials for the study of western European music from the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century, and American music from its beginnings into the early twentieth century. Reflecting the reference function of the Library in its early days, and through the influence and efforts in acquisitions of two of Chicago’s leading newspaper critics, George P. Upton and Felix Borowski,2 the collection came to concentrate on a solid assemblage of secondary materials covering all areas of music. Rarities were by no means ignored, however. Among the Newberry’s first major acquisitions was the music library of the Florentine Count Pio Reese in 1889, rich in Italian Renaissance sources.3 Through subsequent decades, members of Chicago’s musical community have added important gifts. Horace Oakley, former President of the Newberry’s trustees, provided a substantial fund for music, named in honor of his mother, Jane Oakley, the resources of which have been available since 1955. The music program has been recently enhanced by the acquisition of a portion of the library of Alfred Cortot, and by the American sheet music collection of J. Francis Driscoll.

The music collection today numbers close to 200,000 items, of which 45,000 are books about music, 55,000 are scores and performance editions, and perhaps 100,000 are sheet music. The present collecting policy excludes two major areas of current scholarly interest: contemporary music, and most areas of ethnomusicology. In general, the student of music as it relates to history, ideas, and the other arts, will be better served than the scholar studying musical content or the musical performer. In overview, the collection may be divided into five categories as follows:

1. Medieval Music. Important as an early treatise is a twelfth-century manuscript, probably Austrian, of Boethius’ De musica. A 15th-century codex, probably French, contains treatises of Marchetus de Padua and Johannes de Muris, as well as an Ars perfecta in musica ascribed to Philippe de Vitry. A handsome illumination of La Harpe de melodie appears in this book, its strings represented by the notation of a complete two-voice chanson.4 Earliest among the dozen-odd liturgical chant books is a late 13th-century Franciscan breviary.5 A particularly beautiful 15th-century Cistercian gradual has been traced to the scriptorium of the Brothers of the Common Life.

2. Renaissance and Baroque Music. The greatest strength of the Newberry’s music collection lies in the years 1470-1700. The panorama of Italian theoretical writings begins with four of the five major treatises of Gafurius. Also present are books of Foliani, Dentice, Picitino, Aron, and Spataro, followed by Tigrini, and the major works of Zarlino and Zacconi. A three-page manuscript commentary by Zarlino is found in the Newberry copy of Vanneo’s Recanetum de musica. Early traditions of performance practice can be studied in the works of Cerreto and Diruta, the backgrounds of music drama in Anton Francesco Doni’s Dialogi and the treatises of Vicentino and Galilei, and conservative and retrospective theory in the works of Artusi, Cerone, and Lorente.

Among German pedagogical works are the treatises of Koswick, Wollick, Querçu (two editions of the Opusculum musices), Listenius, Ornithoparcus, Cochlaeus, Agricola, and Rhau. The Newberry’s Dodekachordon of Glareanus includes the author’s inscription to Francesco Spinola, and the Praetorius Syntagma musicum is here complete. French treatises include the scarce Discours of 1557, attributed to Bonaventure des Periers. Less rare, but more spectacular, is Alfred Cortot’s handsome and unusually complete copy, with 18th-century manuscript annotations, of Marin Mersenne’s Harmonie universelle.

The music of the liturgy is represented by numerous incunabula, beginning with the Ulrich Han missal (Rome: 1476). Of the printed processionals are ones issued in Seville in 1494 and in London in 1554 for use in the Sarum rite. Also present is a Dominican gradual, one of the first music books from the New World (Mexico City: Pedro Ocharte, 1576). Among the manuscript books of sacred music are six volumes of choirbooks which contain about half of the extant repertoire of early Mexican cathedral music;6 a handsome 17th-century Russian obikhod;7 and several dozen “elephant folio” choirbooks.

The Library’s collection of printed art music begins with the Tritonius Melopoeae (Augsburg: Oeglin, 1507). Among other early German editions are Horatian odes (Frankfurt: 1552), the Rerum musicarum (Strasbourg: Peter Schoeffer, 1539), several very early Lutheran service books, and, from the Cortot collection, several dozen Lutheran and Catholic hymnology sources, all but a few being the only recorded copies in the United States.

One handsome set of manuscript partbooks is now thought to have been prepared by the city of Florence for King Henry VIII of England.8 Among a number of unique partbooks are the first and second of Archadelt’s four-voice madrigals, in the editions of 1545 and 1543 respectively. Here also are somewhat over a hundred other Italian partbooks of the 16th and 17th centuries, devoted to both sacred and secular music. Distinguishing this collection is one of the very few known copies of the folio score for Peri’s Euridice (Florence: Marescotti, 1600).

The Dutch holdings include a number of the early editions of the Souterliedekens, beginning with the Simon Cock edition of 1540. Also present is the Valerius Nederlandtsche Gedenck-klanck of 1626, along with several of the religious collections of Peter Philips. The French Renaissance vocal music includes a number of early Huguenot psalters.

The printed instrumental music begins with two Petrucci lutebooks, the fourth of Dalza, 1508, and the first of Bossinensis, 1509. Among the most celebrated of the Newberry’s holdings is the imaginatively decorated lute manuscript, from the years just before 1520.9 The early organ books include one of two known copies of Marcantonio Cavazzoni’s Recerchari, 1523. Other Italian lute music includes the three collections of Francesco da Milano and the books of Crema and Rotta of 1540’s. Spanish lute and vihuela music includes the folio collections of Luis Milan, Bermudo, Fuenllana, and Tomas da Sancta Maria. Three engraved lutebooks of Nicolas Vallet (Amsterdam, 161-?) are particularly attractive. A German lute manuscript of ca. 1590, and a French one of ca. 1640, promise to be of interest to scholars. Among the early books for guitar is a unique copy of the earliest known guitar treatise, a 1626 edition of Gaspar Sanz’s La Guitarra Espanola. English instruction practices of ca. 1650 may also be studied in the Newberry’s John Jenkins manuscript.10

3. Music of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. While the Newberry has fewer treasures from this period than from earlier periods, the scholar will still find important material in many areas. Here again, the collection of treatises is generally stronger than that of performing editions. Pamphlets of the Querrelle des Bouffons are particularly well represented, thanks to the resources of the Cortot collection. The theoretical writings of Johann Mattheson are nearly complete. Among the most interesting documents of the period are a superb copy of Domenico Scarlatti’s Essercizi (London?, 1739?), and two of the four known manuscript copies of Gazzaniga’s Il Convitato di pietra (1785), a model for Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

Early 19th-century keyboard works and chamber music are now also rather well represented. For many years, however, the Library acquired only scores and not parts, on grounds that the Library’s collections do not circulate. Most early chamber music having been issued only in parts, the Library’s collection of this material has been developed only in recent years. The collection of opera vocal scores, on the other hand, numbers perhaps 3,500 items. The thousand-odd opera full scores range in history from Peri’s Euridice of 1600, mentioned above, through the tall folios of Lully, through several dozen 18th-century copyists’ manuscripts, and up to the major works of Richard Strauss.

4. Music of the Master Composers. The Library has never attempted to build an extensive collection of musical manuscripts, but has sought wherever possible to acquire one or at most a few items by each of the major composers.

The manuscript long attributed to the hand of Johann Sebastian Bach, a Prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier, has now been de-authenticated.11 Mozart, on the other hand, is represented by three fine instrumental works, as well as the aria, Conservati, Fedele, KV 23, the recent bequest of the opera singer, Claire Dux. The Beethoven fragment is a small scrap on which appear sketches thought to be connected with the Missa Solemnis. The Schubert manuscript includes a little-known setting of the Gruppe aus dem Tartarus, D. 396.

Mendelssohn is represented by three works, the most recent acquisition among them being an early choral work based on the text Jesu, Meine Freude, a composition which received its first public performance at the Newberry in 1966.12 Schumann is also represented by two works, notably the Fantasiestück, opus 111, no. 3. The Chopin Nocturne, opus 62, no. 1, is particularly interesting and important, including significant corrections and revisions by the composer. Brahms is represented by the Vergebliches Ständchen. Wagner’s Festmarsch, written for the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, was first conducted there by Theodore Thomas who later presented the manuscript to the Newberry. While the Newberry’s collection of musical autographs is a modest one, the major composers are further represented at the Newberry by editions of the complete works, virtually all of which the Library has.

One large and interesting collection of manuscript materials concerns Joseph Joachim, including letters from the late 1840’s to his friend Gisela von Arnim, and correspondence from many years later involving the musicologist Philipp Spitta and Heinrich and Elisabeth von Herzogenberg.13

5. Americana. The Newberry collection of American religious music is based on the large personal collection of Hubert P. Main, a late 19th-century publisher of gospel songs and other religious works, purchased in 1906. Several 18th-century printings with music of the Bay Psalm Book are here, as are James Lyons’s Urania, the major books of William Billings, most of those of Andrew Law, and about a dozen early editions of the Little and Smith Easy Instructor. The collection extends well past 1870, and in general is stronger in material relating to the North than to the South.

The Newberry’s collection of sheet music, developed modestly over the years, now includes the J. Francis Driscoll collection of over 80,000 items. Resources are particularly rich in the music of Negro minstrelsy; in illustrated music of New England, and Mr. Driscoll’s native Boston in particular; and in material before 1890 in general.

Present in holograph are Edward MacDowell’s first piano concerto, a gift from the composer’s widow; George Bristow’s The Great Republic; and a large sampling of the music of Chicago composers, including the major source collections of Frederick Grant Gleason, Henry Eichheim, and Adolph Weidig; John Alden Carpenter’s Krazy Kat ballet, and several works of Alexander Tcherepnin.

The Newberry has attempted to provide a special documentation of musical life in early Chicago. The scrapbooks, correspondence, notebooks, and compositions of Frederick Grant Gleason provide an extensive record of the musical events between the time of Mr. Gleason’s arrival in Chicago in 1877 and his death in 1903. The scrapbooks of the Auditorium Theatre date from the opening in 1889 up to 1939. The Newberry has also preserved the personal papers of Theodore Thomas, founder of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1891 and director until 1904. This research material includes three important groups: the scores which Thomas used, many of them with corrections, alterations, and performance markings; correspondence; and the personal library, including some 50 scrapbooks in which are mounted copies of his American programs, reportedly complete. Also important are the Frederick Stock papers, covering his years as conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1904 until 1942, and including many of his own compositions. Various papers of the theorist Bernhard Ziehn and the ethnomusicologist Yuri Arbatsky14 have also been given the Library.

Early in the Library’s history a decision was made not to acquire sound recordings. Of value to performers in the Chicago area is a small circulating collection of orchestral parts, consisting of standard repertoire and a sampling of early music. Maintained separately from the main music collection, this material is made available on loan to various formally constituted and qualified local symphony orchestras, amateur and professional, free of charge. [This collection is now housed in the Evanston Public Library, Evanston, Illinois.]

The Library served as the residence for a large music periodical indexing project during the 1930’s, which produced over 300,000 cards now maintained by De Paul University in its downtown Chicago campus. [This card index is now held at Northwestern University Library in Evanston, Illinois.] Concerts were presented in the Library in the 1940’s and again recently although the absence of a specially suited auditorium has necessitated the use of the Main Reading Room, with obvious inconvenience to the scholarly use of the collections. The Library’s classification system is that developed by Charles Ammi Cutter, in which the Letter “V” is assigned to the performing arts. Since Cutter’s system is inadequate for musical notation, the Library of Congress “M” and “MT” schedules have been adapted as “VM and “VMT”. Less than satisfactory results, here as in other areas, combined with the closed-stack storage arrangement, have led to a recent decision to arrange all incoming books by size regardless of subject area. [The Library’s current classification system, which it adopted around 1978, is that of the Library of Congress.] A bibliographical index of the music before 1860 is now being assembled for publication. [Bibliographical Inventory to the Early Music in the Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois, edited by D. W. Krummel. (Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1977).]

***The author [gratefully acknowledges the assistance of] Miss Margaret Murata in the preparation of this survey.

***The author is Professor Emeritus in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


1. The Newberry’s music was first described in George P. Upton’s “The Musical Department of the Newberry Library,” in The Nation, v. 48, no. 1244 (May 2, 1889), pp. 361-362. Ten years later, the Newberry librarian, William N. C. Carlton, reported on “The Music Collection of the Newberry Library, Chicago” in Studies in Music Education, History, and Aesthetics: Fourth Series (Papers and Proceedings of the Music Teacher’s National Association, 31st Annual Meeting, Northwestern University, December 28-30, 1909; Published by the Association, 1910), pp. 198-203. Felix Borowski contributed the section on Music in the Handbook of the Newberry Library (Chicago: The Newberry Library, 1933), pp. 49-56, which was reprinted with a few additions in the 1938 Handbook, pp. 54-61. Later events, mostly articles on “Recent Acquisitions” by Felix Borowski and John F. Ohl, are described in various issues of The Newberry Library Bulletin.

2. Felix Borowski’s selection policies are mentioned in the eulogy appearing in The Newberry Library Bulletin, Vol. 4, no. 4 (December 1956), pp. 126-127.

3. See Guy A. Marco, “Beginnings of the Newberry Library Music Collection: Background and Personal Influences,” Approaches to Library History, edited by John David Marshall (Proceedings of the Second Library History Seminar, Tallahassee, March 4-6, 1965; Tallahassee: Journal of Library History, 1966), pp. 165-181.

4. De Ricci, suppl., p. 152, no. 31, and The Newberry Library Bulletin, Vol. 4 (1957), pp. 192-193.

5. S. J. P. van Dijk, “Some Manuscripts of the Earliest Franciscan Liturgy,” Franciscan Studies, Vol. 16 (1956), pp. 60-67.

6. An unpublished study of this manuscript has been prepared by [Eliyahu A.] Schleifer of the University of Chicago. [See Eliyahu A. Schleifer, “New Light on the Mexican Choirbooks at the Newberry Library,” Notes: The Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association, Vol. 30, no. 2 (December 1973), pp.231-241, and Eliyahu A. Schleifer, “The Mexican Choirbooks at the Newberry Library (Case MS VM 2147 C 36)” (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1979).]

7. Alfred J. Swan, “The Newberry Obikhod,” The Newberry Library Bulletin, Vol. 4, no. 3 (September 1956), pp. 67-69.

8. H. Colin Slim, of the University of California, Irvine, has prepared an unusually thorough bibliographical study and transcription of important music in this manuscript, publication of which is projected. [See H. Colin Slim, A Gift of Madrigals and Motets (Chicago: Published for the Newberry Library by the University of Chicago Press, 1972). See also Ten Altus Parts at Oscott College, Sutton Coldfield, transcribed and edited by H. Colin Slim (Chicago?, 1978?), and H. Colin Slim, “A Royal Treasure at Sutton Coldfield,” Early Music, Vol. 6 (January 1978), pp. 57-74.]

9. Compositione di Meser Vincenzo Capirola: Lute Book (circa 1517), edited by Otto Gombosi. (Neuilly-sur-Seine: Société de musique d’autrefois; Chicago: The Newberry Library, 1955).

10. Jane Troy Johnson, “How to ‘Humour.’ John Jenkins’ Three-part Dances: Performance Directions in a Newberry Library MS,” Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 20, no. 2 (Summer 1967), pp. 197-208.

11. Richard S. Hill, “A Mistempered Bach Manuscript,” Music Library Association Notes, second series, Vol. 7, no. 3 (June 1950), pp. 377-386. Alfred Dürr refers to this scribe as Anon. Vr, and Paul Kast has referred to him as Anon. 12.

12. A facsimile of this manuscript, with an introduction by Oswald Jonas, was prepared for the first meeting of the Newberry Library Associates, May 4, 1966.

13. Transcripts and English translations of these archives, prepared by Bernard E. Wilson, are available for consultation at the Library.

14. See Yury Arbatsky, Beating the Tupan in the Central Balkans (Chicago: The Newberry Library, 1953); also “The Arbatsky Collection,” The Newberry Library Bulletin, Vol. 3, no. 6 (July 1954), pp. 170-176.