North Texas Daily

UNT Music Library to display 22,000 item collection, including grand pianos

UNT Music Library to display 22,000 item collection, including grand pianos

UNT Music Library to display 22,000 item collection, including grand pianos
April 23
22:00 2014

Ashley Salazar // Intern Writer

The UNT Music Library will display a large, special collection of thousands of donated items from the estate of Dallas collector Joe M. Morris.

Some of the items included in the 22,000 item collection are a Model B Ampico Knabe grand reproducing piano, 5,400 music rolls for the piano to play, a Steinway grand piano, several phonographic players and many other pieces of media.

“A collection of this size is exceedingly rare, and possibly unique,” Music Special Collections Librarian Maristella Feustle said. “There may be other private collectors, but the only collection I’ve found that comes close to ours is at the International Piano Archives at Maryland, with about 3,000.”

The Model B Ampico Knabe Grand reproducing piano, the featured display, is self-playing and repeats exact notes and rhythms of an artist, making it seem like the artist is in the room playing the piano himself.  Used in the early 1900’s, these reproducing pianos outsold regular pianos.

“This collection is very unusual, and is a real treasure,” Music Reference Librarian Donna Arnold said. “Most people have never seen or heard a player piano like the one we received.”

The collection will contain novelty tunes to classical work along with jazz and pop tunes, including compositions from artists such as Sergei Rachmaninoff, George Gershwin, Percy Grainger, Eubie Blake, Earl Hines, James P. Johnson and countless other artists.

“Having these instruments and rolls as part of our collections will greatly enhance and complement our existing holdings of historical sound recordings,” said Mark McKnight, head of the Music Library and Ozier Sound Archive  “They will contribute educationally to our students and the College of Music curricula in the areas of American musical and cultural history.”

The reception and open house will recognize the collection and honor Joe Morris, who was passionate about his historic music collection.

“We are grateful for his generosity and desire to maintain this legacy and to allow us to share it with so many others so that this vital part of our country’s history is preserved for future generations,” McKnight said.

The event will also celebrate the relocation and renovation of the Edna Mae Sandborn Music Rare Book Room that will accommodate the piano and other historic phonographs as well as showcase all of the rare and special music collections.

The display will take place from 5-7 p.m. on April 30 at the Edna Mae Sandborn Room 430A in Willis Library located at 1506 Highland Ave.

The event is free but guests must RSVP to Head Music Librarian Mark McKnight at

Feature photo: A Model B Ampico Knabe piano. Photo courtesy of Pianoseeker

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