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Eastman School of Music Sibley Music Library

The 1938 Sibley Music Library building is the two-story building in the middle of the picture
from City of Rochester Property Information

Pictures of Sibley Music Library

The Sibley Music Library was originally established in 1905 in Sibley Hall on the Prince Street Campus. The library was a gift of Hiram Watson Sibley, son of Hiram Sibley, who had donated Sibley Hall to the University in 1874.

The collection was moved in 1922 to a large room at the southeast corner of the first floor corridor of the Eastman School of Music.  The library then moved to a new building on the east side of Swan street that opened in 1938.

The library moved to the new Eastman Place building in 1989, which was renamed the Miller Center in 2004.

1905 "New Sibley Music Library Complete," Democrat and Chronicle, January 1, 1905, Page 19.
In Library in Sibley Hall are over 800 works on Music and Scores.

1921 "Moving Music Library," Democrat and Chronicle, December 30, 1921, Page 16.

[1930] The Sibley musical library in the Eastman School of Music

1937 "Music Library to Move Jan. 1," The Campus, December 10, 1937, Page 1.

1938 "U.R. Dedicates Music Library," Democrat and Chronicle, February 11, 1936, Page 21.

1946 "The Sibley Music Library," by Barbara Duncan, University of Rochester Library Bulletin 1(2) (February 1946)

1958 "Sibley Music Library," Rochester Review 20(2):9 (November 1958)

1970 The History of the University of Rochester Libraries--120 Years, by Catherine D. Hayes
Chapter 8 - The Sibley Music Library
At the beginning of the twentieth century Hiram W. Sibley, son of the University's early benefactor, started a collection of music for the benefit of music lovers of the city as well as for the college. The wisdom of such a collection was first suggested to Sibley by Elbert Newton, a prominent Rochester musician and bibliophile. Newton had a keen interest in "modern" music, literature, and art, and thus, when Sibley provided him with the money, he went to New York and bought widely of the works of then little known composers such as Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, Sibelius, Wolf, Reger, Malipiero, and Respighi. He also purchased the works of the better-known Classical and Romantic writers. Later, in 1918, Sibley provided more funds and Newton added another 6,000 volumes of books and music to the collection. All of these were deposited in the Sibley library on the Prince Street Campus. This extensive buying increased the collection to some 9,000 volumes by the time George Eastman established a music school in the early 1920's.
The first plans for a music school did not include provisions for a library, but before school construction was completed Eastman and Sibley agreed to cooperate in their two ventures and space was allotted in the new building for the library collection. In 1922 Sibley's collection was moved from the University campus to the Eastman School of Music.
This new arrangement was an incentive to Sibley to accelerate his purchases, and from the early 1920's until his death in 1932 he contributed approximately $75,000 for these purchases. In the first few years of the twenties he purchased a number of important collections en bloc. The first was the library of Otto Sonneck, for two decades the leading musicologist in the United States. This contained many of the definitive scholarly editions of the great composers, and considerable bibliographical and critical material. There was the Kreiner collection of Russian folk and liturgical music, with many historical and critical works, largely European, relating to them. Then came the Fleming collection of rare and costly books on the history of musical instruments. A major acquisition was the library of Arthur Pougin, French musical critic, biographer, and collector, of more than 3,000 volumes. Then came the folklore collection of Henry E. Krehbiel, and the original manuscript score of Sir Henry Bishop's "Clari; or the Maid of Milan" which first gave "Home, Sweet Home" to the world.
The music library was provided with its own building on Swan Street in 1937, having by that time about 37,500 volumes of books and music. By the 1960's the Sibley Music Library had 120,000 volumes; and some 25,000 uncatalogued songs, sheet music, and pamphlets, and a significant collection of recordings, microfilms, microcards, and manuscripts. It now contains a quarter-million items.
The library, which is undoubtedly one of the finest in the country, has developed in line with the growth of the music school's curriculum. The development may be seen in the acquisition of books in related fields, in general philosophy, as well as in aesthetics, in poetry, and in the fine arts. It is particularly strong in works of musical theory, in the complete and authoritative editions of the great composers, in historical anthologies and incunabula. Among the anthologies are the Denkmaler der Tonkunst in Osterreich, the Denkmider Deutscher Tonkimst, the Paleographie Musicale, the Lira Sacro-Hispana, the Mornonenta Musicale Byzantinae. Its incunabula in the field of theory include works by Gafurius, Keinspeck, and Le Fevre. Other rare treatises are works by Hermann Finck, Adrian Coclicus, Cerone, Pietro Aaron, Vicenzo Galilei, G. B. Doni, Boethius, Praetorius, Prasberg, Ramos de Pareja, Salinas, Wollick, Zarlino, Agricola, Cochlaeus, Fogliani, Glareanus, Thomas Morley, Thomas Mace, Christopher Simpson, John Playford Rameau, and Charles Butler.
In 1929 the library acquired, from the famous library of Dr. Werner Wolffheim, the eleventh century Reichenau Codex, which contains musical treatises by Hermannus Contractus, William of Hirsau, Bernon, and Frutolf of Michelsberg, as well as treatises on other arts of the Middle Ages. It also possesses what is now known as the Rochester-Adinont Codex, a twelfth century codex from the monastery of Admont in Austria, which consists of the works by Guido, Aribo the Scholar, William of Bernon, and Hermannus Contractus.
The library also is rich in its manuscript collection, some of it beautifully illuminated. It includes leaves from the medieval collection of Oskar Fleischer with his descriptive notes. Among its holograph scores are works by Purcell, Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Brahms, Rubinstein, Schumann, Faure, Krenek, as well as the Americans Chadwick, Foote, Hill, MacDowell, Mason, Copland, Harris, Rogers, Thompson, Antheil, Bacon, White, Porter, and Hanson. There also are comprehensive collections of orchestral scores, chamber music, instrumental music, dramatic music, and the history and theory of music.

1977 "The Sibley Music Library of the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester," by Ruth Watanabe, Notes 33(4)-782-802 (June 1977)

1977 History of the University of Rochester, 1850-1962, by Arthur J. May.  Expanded edition with notes
Chapter 18, The Birth of a Music Center
In the meantime, praiseworthy progress had been made in equipping the school with one of the largest, finest, most comprehensive musical libraries in the United States. Collections of books on music and musical manuscripts acquired by Hiram W. Sibley of Rochester formed the solid nucleus of the library. A lover of music himself, Sibley in 1904 had been persuaded to collect musical works by Elbert Newton, organist of the Central Presbyterian Church, who acted as purchasing agent. In the capacity of "angel," Sibley wished a "working" collection of books without "frills and curiosities," and in the light of that, directive Newton concentrated on buying standard titles and a considerable quantity of "modern" music. The holdings were deposited in the Sibley Library, built by the donor's father, on the Prince Street Campus; Sibley paid the salary of a curator who issued a catalogue of the collection and supplements. Although any responsible Rochesterian might borrow books, circulation was not large, but used freely by students in the nearby Institute of Musical Art.
In January of 1922 the Sibley collection was transferred to the music center and installed in a large room at the southeast corner of the first floor corridor of the School. Known as the Sibley Musical Library, the growing collections remained there until the separate library building became available (1937). On a wall of the reading room a portrait of the benefactor was hung (along the corridor a likeness of Wolfgang A. Mozart looked down benignly on the passing scene), and a bronze tablet just inside the entrance read: "This Musical Library given by Hiram W. Sibley is for the use of all music lovers in Rochester."
Chapter 28, Music and Medicine in the 1930's
Expansion of book collections and increase in the student body caused insufferable congestion in the temporary library quarters. Consequently, in 1937, a music library building, believed to be the first of its kind in America, was erected on the east side of Swan Street, and the former library facility was refitted as a relaxation lounge for students and teachers. On February 10, 1938, the new structure was formally dedicated. The book circulation department, card catalogues, and space for reading occupied the first level, while on the second floor seminar and listening rooms were provided. According to the original blueprints, book stacks would rise to ten levels with cubicles for study along the eastern wall; however, only four stacks were in fact built and plans for an elevator, alas, were not carried out.
Chapter 39, The Eastman School--The Postwar Years
Another possibility, not followed up, was to retain Hutchison House as a student union and make Cutler into an Eastman School graduate center. Sibley Music Library would have been housed in the great hall, and the rest of the building devoted to graduate work and seminars; undergraduate work, applied music, and practice rooms, would have remained downtown.

1980 "The Sibley Music Library: A World Collection," by Ruth T. Watanabe, from University of Rochester Library Bulletin 33 (1980)
This paper is a revised and enlarged version of an article published in Notes, the quarterly journal of the Music Library Association, Vol. 33, No. 4, June 1977, pp. 783-502.

1985 "Music Library likes proposed new home," Democrat and Chronicle, November 13, 1985, Page 5B. | part 2 |

1989 "A Modern Vision of Eastman Place," Democrat and Chronicle, May 15, 1985, Page 3B. | part 2 |
Sibley Music Library opens today; it's hidden jewel of new building.

2021 Morris A. Pierce