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Women in Music at the Library for the Performing Arts & Beyond: About
A guide to resources in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and other resources.
We hope that this guide will help you explore the breadth of the impact women have had in music. From performers and composers to women who started record labels and offered financial backing to artists. It includes commercially published books & recordings and archival materials available in our Research Collections, as well as circulating materials that you can check out and take home with you (or have delivered to your local library branch through Grab & Go).
Over the past few years here at the Library for the Performing Arts we have been looking to increase our holdings of scores (and parts) in our circulating scores collection for works by contemporary women composers across the full range of vocal and instrumental combinations. The focus has been to match the diversity of contemporary scores in our research collections with circulating performance material our patrons can play from and study at home.
Though practically forgotten today, a century ago during the heyday of vaudeville, Blanche Merrill (1883-1966) was one of the most well-known lyricists and creators of vaudeville acts. Performers sought her out (and paid her dearly) for new material; in turn, she would interview the performer, see them perform, study their style and individual characteristics, and then create a song or act carefully tailored to the performer’s unique talents.
Anahid demonstrated a strong interest in music from an early age. “I always wanted to be a violinist,” she remembered later. “There was never a doubt in my mind.” As a child, she began studying at the Institute of Musical Art (later the Juilliard School), where her sister had been attending since the age of 6. Her main instructor was the violinist Edouard Dethier; she also studied chamber music with violinist Hans Letz and the cellist Felix Salmon, and performed with the Juilliard Graduate School Orchestra under Albert Stoessel.
The daily musical activities of poet Emily Dickinson (1830–86) — home performances at the piano, collecting sheet music, and attending concerts—reveal a great deal about the cultural offerings available to a woman of her time, place, and class. For Dickinson, these experiences provided a vital and necessary backdrop for her identity and and more importantly, for her emerging poetic voice.
One of the most successful of these widow music publishers was the one known by her imprint, La veuve Boivin [= the widow Boivin] or later as Madame Boivin, who ran a successful music publishing business in Paris during the first half of the eighteenth century.
In numerous interviews, talk shows, and autobiographies, Sills revealed herself as a cheerful and ebullient personality. But her scores reveal a different side of her. They show that she was a hard-working and dedicated performer. A number of her scores are marked (some in great detail), indicating her great commitment to singing with a striking attention to detail.
Horne’s annotated scores make up a large portion of this collection. Of the 1,550 bound scores the Library obtained, around 500 are filled with her personal markings. As these can be found in everything from art song, aria, and folk-song anthologies to oratorio and orchestral repertoire, they reveal the breadth and depth of her career and the devotion she had to all forms of music.
Aretha Franklin’s file includes her membership form, which she likely filled out around 1964. The form contains several interesting details--for example, that she enjoyed bowling and golf in addition to songwriting, and that she considered "Without the One You Love" to be her most important recording at that point.
In May 1990, Houston Grand Opera impresario David Gockley penned a lengthy letter to executive producer Barbara Dufty of Meredith Monk’s House Foundation concerning Monk’s opera-in-development. After spending more than a decade establishing a reputation for site-specific multimedia works that redefined conventional understandings of theatrical space and the relationships between music, movement, and drama, Monk had, by the late 1980s, parlayed her prestige and the success of her vocal sextet Dolmen Music into an opera commission.
To whom it may concern: Today I spoke with a reference librarian about donating my copy of Marc Blitzstein’s original working score of Regina. I worked with Marc for two years singing his songs and going through all the changes. When Regina opened on Broadway around 45 years ago, I played the alternate lead in the Cheryl Crawford Broadway production.