For the past several months I’ve been looking for an excuse to write about the New York Philharmonic’s Digital Archives. This wonderful collection of concert programs, business correspondence, and conductor-marked scores focuses on the N.Y. Phil’s “International Years” between 1943 and 1970. This period represents a remarkable series of historical achievements for the orchestra: Leonard Bernstein was appointed assistant conductor in 1943 and rose to the position of Music Director in 1957, women were being granted tenure in the Philharmonic for the first time, the Long Playing record made its debut, and the government, realizing that New York was rapidly becoming a internationally-recognized cultural center, began funneling considerable funding into the arts.
The process of digitizing all archived material of the International Years is not yet over. All 1.3 million items are expected to be online by 2012, but there are already hundreds of thousands of items to sort through—each a historical gem. The archive is replete with nuggets (both educational and entertaining) that will surely satisfy the curiosity of classical music fans for many, many hours.
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