As of this week, Sibley has scanned over 200,000 pages of music since our project started in May 2009. If printed out on traditional 8.5 X 11 paper and laid end to end, the pages would span a length of over 35 miles! That’s enough to take you from the front doors of Sibley Library to the far shore of Canandaigua Lake, a nice place to cool off on a warm day like today.

The hillside overlooking Canandaigua Lake


During the first year of Sibley’s grant funded digitization efforts, we’ve gone through our collections of solo and chamber music to bring you thousands of public domain works. Now, at the start of our second year, we’re moving into the collection of large ensemble music, beginning with scores and miniature scores for full orchestra. Full score symphonies, symphonic poems and concertos by composers such as Bonis, Cui, Glazunov, Pleyel, Reinecke, and Wagner make up the list. These works will be available on IR+ later this summer.

For now, you can check out the solo instrumental music being uploaded, and the orchestral music we already have up, including Glinka’s Souvenir D’une Nuit D’été à Madrid, as seen performed here by the Symphony Orchestra of the Saint-Petersburg Philharmonic Society:

Raoul Laparra (1876-1943), was a composer, and the brother of French painter William Laparra. As a student at the Conservatoire, he studied under Fauré, Gedalge and Massenet, and by age 27, had been awarded the Prix de Rome for his cantata, Alyssa (though not without protestation from Fauré, who did not appreciate the work). As a composer, Laparra was strongly influenced by Spanish and Basque music and culture, and was even fluent in the rarely spoken Basque language. He contributed significantly to the study of Spanish music, and published a book in 1934 analyzing the Spanish influences in Bizet’s Carmen. Laparra’s life and work were cut short on April 4, 1943, when he perished in Allied air raid of Boulogne-Billancourt.

Laparra was most known for his vocal and dramatic works, including the operas La Jota and Le Jouer de Viole, but composed music for the piano as well as chamber music, such as his Sonata for Piano and Violin.

Though initially discouraged from childhood music studies by her family, Melanie Bonis (1858-1937) persisted, and her study of the piano soon took her to the prestigious Paris Conservatory. Under the tutelage of professors such as César Franck and Ernest Guiraud, she excelled in harmony and composition. After her marriage in 1883, Bonis devoted her time to her family, but had returned to composing by 1894. Her music became popular in the salons of Paris, and was published by Leduc and Demets, often under the name “Mel-Bonis” to avoid the discrimination faced by female composers at the time. Though her music began to lose popularity after the first World War, Bonis continued composing through the 1920’s; her catalog includes about 300 works. After her death, her children published a memoir assembled from their mother’s notes. Today, Bonis’s family continues to support the study and performance of her work, and maintains an official website for her, where you can learn much more about Bonis, her works, and her legacy.

The digitization project at Sibley includes several of Bonis’s works. More of her scores are freely available through IMSLP.

Another of the Wa-Wan press composers, Frederic Ayres (1876-1926) was born in Binghamton, NY, and studied engineering at Cornell University before turning to composition under the tutelage of Arthur Foote. Afterward, Ayres spent most of his career in the Colorado Springs area, composing and teaching music theory. As with many of his Wa-Wan counterparts, Ayres drew inspiration from the music and culture of Native Americans, but also looked to Shakespeare and folk tales as sources for his songs.

A number of Ayres’s compositions have been digitized under Sibley’s current project, including his sonata for violin and piano, op. 15.

David Hochstein (1892-1918) is a musician that has posthumously touched the lives of many Rochester, NY musicians.  David was born into a family of Russian immigrants, and was given his first violin on his fifth birthday.  He progressed very quickly and was provided funding for his musical studies by Emily Sibley Watson.  At age 17, Hochstein graduated from high school and continued his violin studies in Vienna and St. Petersburg.  At the age of 22, David was loaned two violins, a Landolphi and a Stradivarius by the philanthropist George Eastman.   In 1917, David Hochstein joined the army.  At the age of 26, this brilliant musician’s life was cut short at the 1918 Battle of Argonne.  The David Hochstein Music School was opened in 1920 in his memory, providing lessons for all music students, no matter their financial means.

Hochstein composed a number of works and arrangements through the publisher Carl Fisher.  You can find his Ballad for Violin and Piano in our digitized collection.  For more biographical information on David Hochstein, you can read An Unfinished Symphony: The Story of David Hochstein by Grace N. Kraut.

As we finish uploading the huge amount of music for 2 instruments we’ve been working on for the past couple of months, we’ve begun pulling the even larger amount of music for solo instruments that we’ll begin digitizing and posting next. Sibley has many interesting things in this part of the collection. Aside from scores for all the organists, pianists, and violinists out there, you’ll also be seeing public domain music for some instruments you might not have expected, including guitar, saxophone, and accordion.