New York Philharmonic Digital Archives completed

According to a topic press release the first phase of the New York Philharmonic’s multi-year initiative to digitize the Orchestra’s extensive archives — funded by the Leon Levy Foundation — has been completed, with 1.3 million pages of material from The International Era, 1943–1970, now available free over the internet. This seems to be the biggest digital archive project of a symphony orchestra ever.

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In the third release of material, 520,000 additional pages of marked orchestral parts have been added today. Since the launch, the New York Philharmonic Digital Archives, available online at archives.nyphil.org, has received more than 90,000 visitors from 147 countries, and is making possible unprecedented research by scholars worldwide.

The third release of material coincides with the New York Philharmonic concerts in Ann Arbor, February 2324, 2013, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert, in Hill Auditorium on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. During their visit Orchestra musicians and administrators engage with students at the University in a series of talks and master classes titled “The 21st-Century Orchestra,” including one that is Webcast live, titled “Digitizing 170 Years of the New York Philharmonic Archives,” on Friday, February 22 at 12:00 p.m. EST at si.umich.edu/live. The activities at the University reflect the Philharmonic’s commitment to extending its role as a resource for the development of future orchestral musicians and scholars in New York City and globally.

What’s New in the New York Philharmonic Digital Archives

This latest release of material from The International Era, 1943–1970, makes available more than 520,000 pages of marked instrument parts — the actual sheet music which the musicians read when on stage — comprising 1,186 titles by 309 composers. Many of the sets of parts were used by and have been marked to reflect the interpretations of conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Andre Kostelanetz, and Arturo Toscanini. These markings were made by the Philharmonic musicians themselves, some of whom also signed and dated their parts. These instrument parts now add to the entire performance story presented in the Philharmonic Digital Archives, which also include the printed programs held by audience members, scores marked by the conductors, and the operational and planning documents created by management. 509 sets of parts were used by Andre Kostelanetz, 216 by Leonard Bernstein, and 461 are by various other and, at times yet unidentified, conductors. 349 of the titles seem to be the only existing copy online.

The first phase of the Digital Archives, The International Era, 1943–1970, now complete, makes every document in the New York Philharmonic’s Archives available online, including:

  • 1,780 scores marked by Leonard Bernstein, Andre Kostelanetz, and others
  • 15,800 music parts marked by Philharmonic musicians
  • 3,235 printed programs, 1943–1970
  • 3,087 business and planning folders
  • 16,341 photographs and images

The next phase of the digitization of the New York Philharmonic’s Archives is a projected release of documents from The Founding Era, 1842–1908, which will be followed by The Modern Era, 1909–1943, as well as development of a strategy to digitize almost 7,000 hours of audio and video.

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