“The science and art of Music is worthy of a place in a system of liberal education and deserving of cultivation….”
The Harvard Musical Association is a private charitable organization founded by Harvard University graduates in 1837 for the purposes of advancing musical culture and literacy, both at the College and in the city of Boston. Among the Association’s most important major accomplishments in the middle of the nineteenth century are the creation of the country’s finest music library of that time, the first professional and public chamber music series, the erection of the great Boston Music Hall, and the formation of the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra which ultimately gave rise to the Boston Symphony.
Today, HMA library and concert rooms are available during weekdays without charge to musicians for practicing and scholars for research. The Association’s Marsh room, the meeting place of The Apollo Club (the oldest male chorus in New England) and the venerable HMA Reading Orchestra, is also frequently a recital venue for area artists and performing groups. The Harvard Musical Association maintains a longstanding tradition of commissioning new works, supporting local non-profit musical organizations, and giving prizes and awards to young performers.
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Chase Collection Accessioning Completed After 100 Years on Back Shelves
Theodore Chase, an amateur in music and an early member of the Association, willed HMA 500 bound volumes, each typically containing up to dozens of scores, in 1925. One hundred years later, we undertook to describe and catalog 225 volumes, containing 4200+ scores and parts, which had languished uncatalogued in back shelves. We then proceeded to list the material on the Online Computer Library Center, the major worldwide catalog of books and scores.
Of the 4299 items described (noting that parts listed separately are duplicative), 741 items appeared new to OCLC. We obtained matches for the balance, but it is interesting to note that 2279 of the matches were held by only one other library on OCLC. For the record, the HMA Library had contained 14,529 before these additions.
The late Jim Whipple began work on the descriptive catalog in fall of 2020, and Sophie Wang (who recently won and audition to the BSO strings) completed the task in March of 2021. Lee Eiseman added the HMA siglum to the matching items [HERE] on OCLC and flagged the unicas [HERE]. See a fuller report HERE.
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Announcing the availability of a finding aid to the ephemera and manuscripts of the Association.
In production since 2016, the work in progress has grown to 499 pages and 167,781 words as of September 18, 2021. Our holdings on the history of HMA and its orchestra, library, worthies, and concerts are herein depicted in exacting descriptions provided by Jared Rex. Searching by keywords can produce a lot of hits, such as 1337 hits for “Dwight.” Click HERE for a PDF, and HERE for a Word Doc.
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A Musical Life in Two Worlds: The Autobiography of Hugo Leichtentritt is still available.
The typescript was discovered in HMA’s library and was prepared for publication by enthusiastic members under the directions of executive publisher Lee Eiseman and editor Mark DeVoto. Written in response to a challenge from Harvard in 1940 for first-person Holocaust accounts, the book also evokes a vanished German musical life before Hitler as well as Harvard and Boston of the 1890s and 1930s. Ordering information is here.