Exhibits before 2013


Current and Recent Exhibits

Hail to the Chief poster

Hail to the Chief: Presidents in the Gilmore Archives


Every four years, Americans turn their attention to the presidential contest. You might expect—indeed, you might hope—that the Gilmore Music Library would provide a quiet refuge from the otherwise inescapable din of the campaign, but presidents and elections have a surprisingly large presence in our collections. The library holds the papers of Vladimir Horowitz, Robert Shaw, Benny Goodman, and other prominent musicians who performed at the White House, posed for photographs with presidents, corresponded with presidents, or received presidential awards. 

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Beyond Paper

Beyond Paper: Treasures and Curiosities from the Gilmore Archives


The Gilmore Music Library is home to numerous important archival collections, manuscripts, and rare books, but Beyond Paper focuses instead on 23 objects you might not expect to find in a library. They include the baton from Arturo Toscanini’s last concert before the outbreak of World War II, one of Vladimir Horowitz’s Grammy Awards, baseballs autographed by the Mets and the Cardinals, an Easter egg decorated by Paul Hindemith, Benny Goodman’s dental impressions, Henry Gilbert’s baby hair and death mask, and casts of the hands of Horowitz and Chopin. 

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Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt: Transcending the Virtuosic


This fall the Gilmore Music Library marks Liszt’s 200th birthday with an exhibit entitled Franz Liszt: Transcending the Virtuosic. The most dazzling pianist of the 19th century, a strikingly innovative composer, an important conductor, teacher, and author, and a charismatic personality, Liszt was as one of the most talented, colorful, and influential figures in the history of music. Our exhibit features five musical manuscripts wholly or partly in Liszt’s hand, four of his letters (including ones to to his daughter Cosima and his friend Robert Schumann), three early printed editions of his music, two books about Liszt (a biography published during his lifetime and a novel by an alumna of Yale’s Ph.D. program in musicology), three images (depicting Liszt in boyhood, middle age, and old age), a medallion that was owned at various times by Liszt, Toscanini, and Horowitz, and even a rose that he is said to have kissed.

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Histories of Music

Histories of Music


The scholarly study of music history is a surprisingly recent innovation, one that is explored in Histories of Music. It features general histories of music from Printz in the 17th century through Hawkins and Burney in the 18th to Kiesewetter, Fétis, and Ambros in the 19th. The exhibit also includes Glarean's Dodekachordon of 1547, and Donald Jay Grout's A History of Western Music, revised by Yale's own Claude V. Palisca.

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Robert Schumann poster

Robert Schumann: Composer, Critic, & Correspondent


On June 8, the Gilmore Music Library celebrated Robert Schumann’s 200th birthday with Robert Schumann: Composer, Critic, and Correspondent. A central figure in the romantic movement in Germany, Schumann (1810–1856) concentrated on piano music in the early phase of his career, and eventually came to excel in genres ranging from the song to the symphony. Perhaps the most important music journalist of his era, Schumann edited the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik and wrote reviews heralding the genius of the 21-year-old Chopin and the 20-year-old Johannes Brahms. Clara Wieck Schumann, Robert’s wife, was one of the greatest pianists of the century, and a notable composer as well. The exhibit includes two music manuscripts and three letters by Robert as well as one music manuscript and two letters by Clara. Published works on display include Robert’s two most famous reviews, along with a variety of early printed editions and engravings. The exhibit also features the manuscript of a piano piece that Brahms gave to Clara on her wedding anniversary, as well as Charles Ives’s sketch for “Ich grolle nicht,” a song he wrote for Horatio Parker’s class at Yale, based on a text already immortalized by Schumann’s setting of the same poem.

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Hats Off, Gentlemen, a Genius!

"Hats Off, Gentlemen--A Genius": Chopin at 200


The Gilmore Music Library celebrates the 200th anniversary of Chopin's birth with an exhibit that contains a music manuscript and letter in the composer's own hand, as well as a variety of other materials, such as a manuscript by Chopin's sister, a startlingly diverse selection of arrangements of Chopin's music (ranging from his famous funeral march, repurposed for the death of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, to the popular song "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows"), and even a postage stamp from Chopin's native Poland. Our title comes from a famous article by Schumann, published in 1831, when both men were scarcely out of their teens; it too is part of the exhibit.

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Choral Music in the United States poster

Choral Music in the United States:  Treasures from the Archives


Yale University hosted the annual conference of the National Collegiate Choral Organization in November 2009. To coincide with this event, the Gilmore Music Library organized a special exhibit on American choral music. The exhibit had three main themes: composers' manuscripts, Robert Shaw, and Yale itself. The display featured manuscripts by Horatio Parker, Charles Ives, Deems Taylor, Virgil Thomson, Paul Hindemith, and Fenno Heath. Robert Shaw was the foremost American choral conductor of the 20th century. Yale has been a major center of choral music for nearly a century, and the library holds the papers of two key conductors of the Yale Glee Club: Marshall Bartholomew and Fenno Heath. 

The three themes outlined here overlap in many ways. Ives was a Yale alumnus, Parker and Hindemith were Yale professors, and Bartholomew and Heath were both. Shaw commissioned Hindemith's oratorio When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd, and in 1996, fifty years after its first performance, he conducted it at Yale. Shaw died in New Haven in 1999; he was visiting Yale because his son was a student here. Thanks to the generosity of the Shaw family and the efforts of Robert Blocker (Dean of the Yale School of Music) and Kendall Crilly (then head of the Gilmore Music Library), Shaw's papers now reside at Yale. They are a peerless resource for choral conductors and for scholars interested in the history of choral music.

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Benny Goodman poster

Benny Goodman: A Century of Swing


This fall the Gilmore Music Library marks the centenary of the King of Swing, Benny Goodman (1909-1986), with an exhibit featuring big band arrangements, clarinet concertos by Paul Hindemith and Aaron Copland, photographs, and a wide variety of other materials, such as Goodman's honorary doctorate from Yale, a program and ticket from his famous Carnegie Hall concert in 1938, and a letter from fellow clarinetist Woody Allen.

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"... The Songs We Loved So Well": Music of the Whiffenpoofs


Curated by Barry McMurtrey, '86

The Whiffenpoofs, Yale's most famous a cappella singing group, are marking their 100th anniversary in 2009 with a series of exhibits in Sterling Memorial Library. The exhibit that was on display in the Gilmore Music Library, entitled “… the Songs We Loved So Well”: Music of the Whiffenpoofs, focused mainly on the musical arrangements the Whiffs have performed over the course of their history. Curator Barry McMurtrey, who works in the Access Services department of Sterling and Bass libraries, is an alumnus of the Whiffs.

A Renaissance Man Among the Romantics: Felix Mendelssohn at 200


On February 3, 2009, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Felix Mendelssohn. In his 38 short years, Mendelssohn established a reputation as Europe's most eminent composer with brilliant works such as the Midsummer Night's Dream overture, the "Italian" symphony, the violin concerto, and Elijah. His music is well known even to people who have never set foot in a concert hall, thanks to the omnipresent "Wedding March" and "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing." This exhibit documents Mendelssohn's career with three musical manuscripts and four letters in his own hand, as well as a variety of early published editions, engravings, biographies, and concert programs. As a testament to Mendelssohn's continued prominence in more recent times, we have also included one of Robert Shaw's copiously annotated scores of Elijah.

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Gilmore Turns Ten: Looking Back at the Yale Music Library


The Irving S. Gilmore Music Library celebrates its tenth anniversary on September 18, 2008. Gilmore is the only Yale Music Library that today’s students (and many faculty and staff) have ever known. But veteran Yalies still tend to call it “the new music library”; to us, it seems like the move was just yesterday. This exhibit offers a look back at the old library in Sprague Hall, and at the construction of the Gilmore Library; it features photographs, architectural blueprints, articles, diary entries, and other items.

Of Typewriters and Sleigh Bells

Of Typewriters and Sleigh Bells: A Celebration of Leroy Anderson


On June 29, 2008, the world celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of America's foremost composer of light orchestral music: Leroy Anderson, the composer of Sleigh RideThe TypewriterThe Syncopated Clock, and many other popular classics. Anderson's music owes its enduring success to his inexhaustible melodic imagination, the clarity and inventiveness of his orchestration, and his unique brand of musical humor. The exhibit features musical manuscripts and other items from the Leroy Anderson Papers, as well as items lent by the Anderson family.


Arab Music


Curated by Simon Samoeil, head of the Near East Collection of Sterling Memorial Library.

Daniel Read poster Singing the Lord's Song

Daniel Read and the Flowering of Sacred Music in New Haven and Singing the Lord's Song in a Foreign Land: Early Sacred Music in America


Curated by Kendall Crilly

Two related exhibits celebrate the rich heritage of American sacred music. Daniel Read and the Flowering of Sacred Music in New Haven, at the Beinecke Library, explores the life and work of New Haven's local tunesmith, Daniel Read, in observance of his 250th birthday. Singing the Lord's Song in a Foreign Land: Early Sacred Music in America, at the Gilmore Music Library, showcases the diversity of American sacred music as it developed from New England psalmody. The exhibits feature materials from Beinecke, from Gilmore, and from the New Haven Museum and Historical Society.

How to Play poster

How to Play: Instrumental Treatises, Instructors, and Self-Instructors from Six Centuries


Curated by Eva Heater

In conjunction with the American Musical Instrument Society's annual meeting at the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments in June, the Music Library shows off some of its extensive collection of musical instrument treatises and self-tutors, ranging from Vincenzo Galilei's Fronimo of 1584 to Jusquin Turenne Des Pres' First Bass of 2005.

A Celebration of Jazz at Yale poster

A Celebration of Jazz at Yale


Curated by Kendall Crilly and Richard Boursy

A sampling of treasures featuring material from the Benny Goodman Papers, Duke Ellington's manuscript of The Golden Broom and the Green Apple, and photographs of many jazz luminaries such as Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Count Basie, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller, Charlie Parker, and Sarah Vaughan from the Stanley Dance and Helen Oakley Dance Papers and the Frederick and Rose Plaut Papers.

Inside Harkness Tower


Curated by a team of students from the Yale Guild of Carillonneurs, including Brendan Woo '08 and Claire Halpert '07

This exhibit, held in the Music Library and in the Nave of Sterling Memorial Library, featuring photographs, drawings, music, letters, and other materials from the Music Library, Manuscripts and Archives, and the Guild's own collections. The exhibit coincided with a meeting of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America.


Cycles in Science and Cycles in Music


Curated by Lloyd Ackert, Mellon Special Collections Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow

The impetus for this exhibit was Ackert's study of Russian microbiologist Sergei Vinogradskii (1856-1953), who trained as a musician and studied with the great pianist and pedagogue Theodor Leschetizky (1830-1915).  Uses of cycles in the works of Franz Schubert (1797-1828) and Guillaume de Machaut (ca. 1300-1377) are considered.  The exhibit is part of The Cycle of Life:  An Exhibit, Virtual and Physical, on display in nine locations in the Yale University Library.


Portuguese World Music


Curated by K. David Jackson, Professor of Portuguese


From the Collection of Fenno Heath, Yale Glee Club Director, 1953–1992


Curated by Timothy DeWerff '92

Fenno Heath (1926-2008), ’50 B.A., ’51 Mus.B., ’52 Mus.B., led the Yale Glee Club for 39 years, including the period of its transition from a men's chorus to a mixed chorus. The exhibit featured compositions and arrangements by Heath, as well as photographs, letters, and other documents.

From Prodigy to Legend poster

From Prodigy to Legend: 250 Years of Mozart


Curated by Kendall Crilly and Richard Boursy

In January 2006 Yale celebrated the 250th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with an exhibit in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The exhibit brought together a remarkable assemblage of materials from the Gilmore Music Library, the Beinecke Library, and Sterling Memorial Library. Highlights included a complete gavotte in Mozart’s hand (from the Frederick R. Koch Collection at Beinecke) as well as a fragmentary trumpet part and an envelope in Mozart’s hand (both from the Opochinsky Collection at the Music Library). Also on display were numerous early prints of Mozart’s music, biographical materials, items relating to his family and friends, and images of Mozart and his operatic characters. The Yale Collegium Musicum gave a concert at the Beinecke Library featuring selections from the music on display.

John Kirkpatrick poster

John Kirkpatrick: A Century of American Music


This exhibit documented the life and work of the virtuoso pianist, insightful advisor to composers (most notably Charles Ives and Carl Ruggles), meticulous editor and scholar, and dedicated teacher.

Theorica Musicae


Curated by Kendall Crilly and Richard Boursy

Yale has long been renowned as a leading center of music theory, thanks to the faculty and students of the Department of Music, and also to the Music Library's collections. This exhibit featured notable theoretical treatises and works ranging from Gaffurio's Theorica musicae (1942), from which we borrowed our title, to a book and a handwritten analytical graph by Allen Forte, the distinguished professor emeritus at Yale. It included a wide variety of remarkable items, including Zarlino's Istitutioni harmoniche (2nd edition, 1573) signed on the title page by Monteverdi, and a manuscript essay on music theory by Charles Ives's father.

Before They Were Famous poster

Before They Were Famous


Curated by Julie Niemeyer

Many of the library's exhibits feature photographs of famous musicians. Usually we see dignified head shots meant for publicity purposes, or action photos of them performing in concert. Before They Were Famous displayed photos of many eminent composers and performers (including Charles Ives, Benny Goodman, Vladimir Horowitz, Paul Hindemith, Cole Porter, and Virgil Thomson), but it showed them when they were babies or young children. 

Vladimir Horowitz poster

Vladimir Horowitz: Pianist of the Century


Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989) was the most celebrated pianist of the 20th century. Born in what is now Ukraine, he moved to Germany in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, and later settled in France. When World War II broke out, he moved to the United States, where he became a citizen. Horowitz performed around the world to tremendous acclaim. Horowitz was famous for his spectacular technique and his highly personal interpretations. His mystique was enhanced by his marriage to the daughter of Arturo Toscanini, his many retirements from the stage (one of them lasting twelve years, when he was at the height of his career), and his colorful eccentricities. Our exhibit included correspondence with Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arthur Rubinstein, Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, and Rosa Ponselle, a White House photograph signed by President Reagan, a pair of baseballs signed by the 1969 New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals, Toscanini's baton, a cast of Horowitz's hands, and even one of his famous bow ties.


Brazen Images: An Exhibit on the Literature and Pedagogy of Brass Instruments


Curated by Eva Heater

Yale has an unusually rich collection of materials relating to the history and playing of brass instruments. The items displayed in this exhibit are but a small sample. Their dates range from 1503 to 1974, and they include holograph manuscripts by Charles Ives, Paul Hindemith, and Virgil Thomson, original editions of early treatises, theater music, chamber music, and other historical documents. 

The exhibit coincided with the Historic Brass Society’s nineteenth annual Early Brass Festival, hosted by the Gilmore Music Library in 2003.

Musicians and their Pets poster

Musicians and Their Pets


Curated by Julie Niemeyer

The Music Library's archival collections contain thousands of photographs, and not all of their subjects are human. This exhibit featured photos of many four-legged friends of musicians, including Vladimir Horowitz's cats, Arturo Toscanini's dogs, Charles Ives and Cole Porter riding horses, and Virgil Thomson with two deer.

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Exhibits are curated by Richard Boursy except where otherwise noted.