Imagine walking into a hotel, a restaurant, or a theater. What's that sound you hear? Music, recorded music emanating from speakers nested somewhere in the walls.
Now it's the year 1914. Yes, the music is still there, but instead is played live by a live orchestra. Thousands of arrangements, created specifically for these places, were composed from the turn of the century through the 1920s. But, with recorded music replacing living, breathing musicians in these spaces, where did the compositions go?
The California University of Pennsylvania.
Cal U's Special Collections
Deep within the Lewis L. Manderino Library, the Special Collections department has stacks of compositions, some still bound with the twine in which they arrived, and all still only accessible by card catalog.
However, I have seen the promised land and have been granted admission! I've known about this collection for several years and this past week have begun to scan the remarkable finds that are housed here. This collection consists of stock orchestrations that were used for hotel and theater orchestras in the years before canned muzak! Every venue, regardless of how large or small, required live music as the entertainment because there was no recorded music that you could blast over the sound system (since it hadn't been invented yet) while you dined, drank, and relaxed.
I have only begun to scratch the surface but have already uncovered rarities that have archivists throughout the world excited. Stay tuned for more in coming weeks!
This can be categorized under "How I spent my summer vacation."