A Music Scholar’s Paradise

There’s a gem tucked away on the lower level of the Center for Education. Over the last few years, Wolf Trap’s music library grew from a place where I kept my own reference scores and recordings to an astonishing resource including (to date) over 9,700 catalogued items. The library is now housed in two rooms with floor-to-ceiling shelves (thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor). The main room was made possible through a gift from the J&M Foundation in memory of May and Joseph Winston. It is dedicated to scores, books and other hard copy reference materials – including over 1,100 scores, 800+ reference books, over 100 different opera libretti, and more than 2,500 programs for historic performances dating back to 1938.

Next door, the media library boasts 3,600 CDs, including over 2,000 recordings of opera and musical theatre by an astonishing list of 360 different composers. (A recent acquisition from the library of a zarzuela fan has netted us over 100 recordings of zarzuelas by 30 different composers!)  We also have about 250 opera DVDs, more than 1,000 compilation CDs by individual artists, and (lest you think it’s all opera all the time) over 500 instrumental recordings. One of our volunteers (check back next week for a special WTOC volunteer blog post) has already dedicated hundreds and hundreds of hours to digitizing our library of historic opera LPs with our nifty Ion LP-to-CD equipment.

WTOC staff member Susan Weinsheimer is Goddess of the Stacks. She manages our small team of volunteers who tirelessly shelve and inventory the files, and she oversees the hundreds of items that are checked out every summer by our resident opera company members.

How did we come by such a treasure trove, given that there is no (zippo, nada, zilch) budget line for the music library?  We have been the lucky recipients of generous donations from 29 Wolf Trap supporters – including opera company housing hosts, volunteers, and a dozen current and former employees of the Wolf Trap Foundation. There’s only one downside to having the library within 10 steps from my office door… The siren call is so loud that it’s tough to resist it in favor of email and spreadsheets. Perhaps there’ll be a slow day sometime in February or March when I can browse the shelves and curl up in there with a cup of hot chocolate.

Above, images of the library on busy summer days, and a commemoration of WTOC donor and fan Tom Tuch autographing copies of his book Arias, Cabalettas, and Foreign Affairs

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