The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded the Sibley Music Library a two-year grant to digitize approximately 10,000 to 12,000 musical scores which are in the public domain, reside in the Library’s general collections, and are held by not more than two other libraries in the world. The materials will be available on the University of Rochester’s Digital Repository “UR Research.”
The Sibley Music Library has been digitizing public domain scores–those published before 1923–for the past four years on a demand basis by Eastman School faculty and students as well as professional and amateur musicians around the world. To date, more than 4,000 items, drawn from the circulating collection of scores, have been digitized and have accounted for more than 2 million downloads from UR Research. Examples of some of the works that can be found online include an arrangement for string sextet, by Michael Gotthard Fischer, of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony; Georgii Katuar’s Trio for Piano, Violin, and Violoncello, Op. 14; and 12 works of Debussy, arranged for organ by Léon Roques.
The award of the NEH grant has allowed Sibley Library to establish a dedicated digitization department, with the task of identifying and digitizing public domain music in Sibley’s collection. Administering the project are James Farrington, Head of Public Services, and Alice Carli, Conservator. Staffing the newly formed Digitization Department are librarian Brian Dobreski, and technician Phil de Chateauvieux.
Sibley Music Library is the largest academic music library in North America, with total holdings of some 750,000 items. Founded in 1904 by Hiram Watson Sibley as a public music library for the Rochester community, the library became part of the Eastman School of Music at the School’s founding as the first professional school of the University of Rochester in 1921. During the course of its first century, the Library amassed large and noteworthy holdings of rare books as well as strong collections of circulating music scores, recordings, books, and journals. The library is particularly rich in late 19th and early 20th century scores, including solo, chamber, orchestral, vocal, and operatic works.