North Texas Daily

UNT Music Library home to enormous collection

UNT Music Library home to enormous collection

August 09
22:00 2012

Ashley-Crystal Firstley / Intern

Located on the fourth floor of Willis Library, the UNT Music Library is home to one of the largest and most accredited music collections in the country, featuring rare audio samples and manuscripts.
Many of the collectibles are either bought or donated, and head librarian Morris Martin ensures each item makes it safely to its new home.

Martin said he has gone so far as to fly to San Francisco to drive a 26-foot Penske truck back full of fragile and valuable opera music books to add scores to the library’s already sizable collection.

Founded in 1941 by Wilfred C. Bain and Anna Harriet Heyer, the library currently holds more than 300,000 books, scores and periodicals, and 900,000 audio recordings in cylinders, reel-to-reel tapes, CDs and 45/33/78rpm records.

The collection also contains manuscripts from well-known composers such as Aaron Copland and UNT alumni, including composers Don Gillis, who was the producer for the NBC Symphony Orchestra, and Julia Smith, who composed the school’s alma mater, “Glory to the Green and White.”

“It gives students a really unusual perspective, to be able to look at these things and to study them instead of having to look at generic published editions,” said Susannah Cleveland, a UNT alumna and head of the music library at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Some of the rare collectibles can be found in a room known as the Edna Mae Sandborn Music Rare Book Room.

Locked glass cases hold some of the oldest pieces in the collection, including a 700-year-old one-page medieval Latin manuscript and first edition opera manuscripts by composers Mozart, Handel and Debussy.

Music scholars researching the works of Stan Kenton, an influential 20th-century American composer, are immediately directed by the Library of Congress to search the UNT Music Library, one of the few places in the country with a significant collection of Kenton’s works. Martin said he receives requests for access to the late bandleader’s compositions every day, from universities around the world.

The Edna Mae Sanborn Room also holds phonographs from the 1920s.

Cleveland said the enormous, comprehensive collection was one of her favorite parts of attending UNT.

“I can talk enthusiastically about that library for weeks,” she said. “It’s a place I absolutely love.”

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