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UB Libraries to preserve rare musical recordings of famed composers

An archival photograph of Morton Feldman, seated at piano, surrounded by Creative Associates including composer David Del Tredici, percussionist Jan Williams and composers Julius Eastman and William Appleby. Photo: UB Libraries

By MARCENE ROBINSON

Published December 6, 2017

The UB Music Library has received funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to preserve more than 600 musical works performed at the university from 1964-80.

Through the CLIR Recordings at Risk grant, the Music Library will work with Northeast Document Conservation Center to reformat 173 reel-to-reel tapes containing nearly 120 hours of live recitals of works by composers that include Pulitzer Prize-winners Charles Wuorinen and Elliott Carter, and Aaron Copland, recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, Academy Award, Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal.

The grant, part of a national program that aims to preserve rare and unique audio content of scholarly value, is supported by a $2.3 million fund from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Music Library is among 16 organizations to receive the award during a second round of funding.

The recordings capture 627 of the more than 700 musical works performed from 1964-80 by the UB Creative Associates, a fellowship program than brought more than 100 of the world’s prominent performers and composers to the UB Center of the Creative and Performing Arts.

The recitals, which include 19 world premieres, feature experimental music of interest by the artists and range from Baroque to improvised performances. Because some of the works were presented as drafts, several performances could represent the only surviving version of a composition.

The tapes also contain more than a dozen recordings of performances and compositions by Julius Eastman, a significant figure in New York classical music. Previously, only 16 recorded scores of Eastman’s work were known to exist. The tapes will nearly double what remains of his legacy.

“The Creative Associate Recitals represent the last major component that needs to be preserved to document the fullest possible history of the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts and what it represents for the history of new music at the University at Buffalo and in Buffalo as a whole,” says John Bewley, music librarian and archivist in the UB Music Library.

The library holds clippings, photographs, documents and digitally reformatted recordings of other concert series from the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts.

The digitally reformatted audio will be available in the Music Library following the completion of the project. For more information, contact Bewley at 716-645-0614 or jmbewley@buffalo.edu.