At left is the cover of the newly released CD, Marian Anderson, Rare and Unpublished Recordings, 1936-52,from the Penn Library's music collection. Along with five other Marian Anderson CDs already on the market, it is now at the Penn Bookstore. An audio sample of one of Miss Anderson's previously unreleased songs is HERE, in an excerpt made available through the courtesy of VAI Audio Inc.
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A Legandary Voice is Heard Anew
When Marian Anderson gave her papers and memorabilia to the University of Pennsylvania Library, the phrase was an understated description of the riches lying in wait for scholars of history and of music, and the exploration of them has only begun.
But this week the Library released Marian Anderson, Rare and Unpublished Recordings, 1936-1952, a collection that sheds new light on the artistic legacy of one of America's most enduring cultural icons, a Philadelphia native hailed by Arturo Toscanini as "a voice which comes once in a hundred years."
The 26-track compact disc includes recordings held in the Penn Library's Marian Anderson Archives as well as a group of previously unissued RCA test-pressings, including works by Brahms, Handel, Schubert and Sibelius. The CD has been produced and is being distributed by VAI Audio, a label specializing in archival vocal recordings, the Library has announced.
As the Library's announcement puts it:
Whether she was working in the florid style of Scarlatti and Handel or the emotionally expressive style of lieder, Marian Anderson was a master of vocal technique and mood. The selections for the CD bring Marian Anderson's many voices to a wider audience, an audience not privileged to have heard her in concert. The juxtaposing of previously issued material with unpublished interpretations echoes the variety of her live performances.
For the first time, listeners will hear Anderson's recording of the complete song cycle of Brahms, Four Serious Songs. When Max Friedlander, musicologist and friend of Brahms, heard her perform this song cycle in a 1931 recital, he called it one of the "very greatest miracles which I ever heard in the long years of my life."
Miss Anderson became a symbolic figure in the 20th century struggle for civil rights when, in 1939, after being denied access to Washingtons Constitution Hall for being "a singer of color," she performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The audience that assembled included such noted figures as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and was, at the time, the largest group that had ever assembled at the Memorial. Fifteen years later, in 1954, Ms. Anderson was the first African American to be engaged by the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
The Penn Library's partnership with VAI is a first effort at unlocking the treasures of the Anderson Archive. Before her death in 1993, Ms. Anderson placed her personal papers including letters, music, scores, programs, photographs and sound recordings with the Penn Library. In 1996 the National Endowment for the Humanities provided the Library with outright and matching grants to preserve, catalog and make these materials available to the public. The collection is rich in tapes and other recording media that capture not only Marian Anderson's artistic range, but also her efforts to gain technical mastery of her voice and material.
The publication of this CD demonstrates the vital part libraries and researchers play as collaborators in the preservation and advancement of culture, said Paul Mosher, Penn's Vice Provost and Director of Libraries.
The collaboration includes VAI, BMG Classics and EMI Recordings, and scholar-librarians at Penn. The digital remastering was done by Ward Marston, a Philadelphian who is known nationally for his CD transfers of vocal music. The 16-page booklet that accompanies the CD contains photographs held by the Marian Anderson Archive and features an essay by Brandeis University musicologist Allan Keiler, author of the forthcoming biography, Marian Anderson: A Singer's Journey, due from Scribners in 1999.
Miss Anderson's nephew, Maestro James DePreist, a Penn graduate, recently led an effort to raise $300,000 to establish the Marian Anderson Music Study Center at Penn Libraries. Maestro DePreist personally reviewed and approved the release of all the material contained in this recording.
Marian Anderson, Rare and Unpublished Recordings, is available at the new Penn Bookstore and all standard classical music outlets as well as through the University of Pennsylvania Libraries as a benefit of membership in the Friends of the Library. For information on joining the Friends of the Library, call (800) 390-1829, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. A portion of the proceeds will go to support the Anderson Archive at the Penn Library.
A Web site devoted to Marian Anderson, with visual and recorded material
from the Anderson Archive, is online at www.library.upenn.edu/special/gallery/anderson/.
The Penn Bookstore's Music Department, on the upper level of the new building at 36th and Walnut, also has tapes and CDs by contemporary Penn musical groups including Quaker Notes, the Glee Club, and Counterparts, as well as WXPN's World Cafe. Mike Ferguson, the department's music manager, said he is amenable to carrying other Penn groups' CDs or tapes. He can be reached at 898-7595.
Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 9, October 27, 1998