Special Collections and Private Music Libraries Introduction

Article excerpt

This issue of Fontes Artis Musicae is devoted to Special Collections and Private Music Libraries. These collections are often created through the devoted attention of a single collector or assembled by focusing on a single topic. The first article is on the Gerald Coke Handel Collection at the Foundling Hospital. This collection was assembled over 60 years of dedicated work by a non-musician with a keen interest in a composer who was a fundamental part of the development of music in England. The second article is on the Morrill Music Library at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, which was created to complement the interdisciplinary center for research in Renaissance culture that the connoisseur Bernard Berenson had endowed to Harvard. The Morrill's funding was so generous that the scope of the library could encompass a much wider range of study than just Renais sance music and now covers Western music from Greek and Roman culture to the early Baroque period, with particular emphasis on Italian music before 1640. Other scholars have donated their own collections to supplement and complement the library's holdings. The essay concludes with complete bibliographical descriptions of three recent acquisitions by the library, unique partbooks of music by the Renaissance composers Giovanni Cavaccio, Ascanio Meo, and Giulio Scala.

From Italy, we next travel to London and the Royal College of Music's collection of materials on the history of the violin by Edward Heron-Allen. A polymath collector, HeronAllen in his youth assembled an as-yet-unsurpassed collection of books on the violin. The violin bibliography was published by Heron-Allen in 1884 and the collection itself came to the Royal College of Music Library in 1943. Also in the RCM Library are significant collections of early orchestral music, discussed by Angela Escott, with particular reference to the differing ways in which they've been used over the years.

Where most of the collections in this issue are in conservatories or private libraries, one public library project has been significant for its value to the local community. The Hong Kong Music Collection at the Hong Kong Central Library was created with the deliberate goal of preserving the local music from all levels of Hong Kong society--although the collection began as a collaboration between the Hong Kong Central Library and the Hong Kong Composer's Guild, it has expanded to collect music manuscripts from the current pop music world, the current and historic Cantonese opera world, and any other musical developments that are uniquely Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Music Collection team has had a number of challenges to overcome, not the least of which was persuading composers who traditionally kept their music as a secret art to donate it to a public collection. …