December 5, 2020

New York Philharmonic’s Online Archives Project Receive $2.4 Million Grant, Digitization Will Continue

A new $2.4 million grant from the Leon Levy Foundation will allow the digitization to continue.

From The New York Times:

The Philharmonic’s Digital Archives, which were first put online in 2011, already have 1.3 million pages of material from 1943 through 1970, including 1,781 scores marked up by conductors, among them Leonard Bernstein; 15,896 orchestral parts marked by Philharmonic musicians; 3,235 printed programs; 16,339 photographs and images; and 4,069 folders of business documents. Each document was painstakingly photographed so it could be made available to music lovers, historians, sociologists and the simply curious.

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With the new grant, the Leon Levy Foundation will have given $5 million toward the project since 2007. Shelby White, the founding trustee of the foundation, said that the response from the public had shown the importance of the work. “The archives are part, not only of the history of the Philharmonic, but also of the culture of New York City,” she said in a statement.

From the Full Text of Today’s Announcement

Coinciding with the announcement of the grant, the New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives has made available the complete collection of materials from its inaugural season, 1842–43. Highlights include the first annual report detailing the Orchestra’s finances from the inaugural season, consisting of three concerts, and the contents of its orchestra library (27 items); the printed program from the Orchestra’s inaugural concert; the first-edition score of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony used in the inaugural concert; the New York Philharmonic’s constitution, signed in April 1842; the list of audience members who subscribed to the inaugural season; an early concert review from The Albion; and photographs of founding Music Director Ureli Corelli Hill.

The grant will also support technological enhancements to the Digital Archives such as the development of a mobile-friendly framework; transcriptions of 19th-century handwritten material presented side-by-side with the originals; full-text search within documents through optical character recognition (OCR); a new document viewer that will accommodate large pages of press-clipping scrapbooks; and personalized shopping carts that will allow researchers to save their search results, supporting long-term study. In addition, open application access to the metadata (API) will allow developers to generate apps using the data, thereby enabling Philharmonic data to link with other archives, digital humanities researchers, and app developers.

A 2011 Video About the Archives

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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