Thursday, December 11, 2008


I received a press release from Boosey & Hawkes last week about Steve Reich's papers, which are going to live in Switzerland:

The Paul Sacher Foundation has entered into an agreement with the American composer Steve Reich (b. 1936) to take over his musical archive. The working papers of this internationally renowned artist will shortly be made accessible to scholars at the Foundation's premises in Basel.

The Steve Reich Collection at the Paul Sacher Foundation covers the composer's entire oeuvre, from his dodecaphonic early works to his very latest creations, such as Daniel Variations (2006) and Double Sextet (2007). In addition to letters, sound recordings, manuscripts from various stages in the creative process, and other documents, special importance attaches to his many audio and program files, which capture various working layers in the music of a composer to whom computers, synthesizers, and samplers have long been standard compositional tools.
The Paul Sacher Foundation holds a remarkable collection of composer archives, including those of Bartok, Berio, Sorabji, Webern, Varese, Ligeti, Birtwhistle, Kurtag, your jaw on the floor yet? Read the whole list, which includes some prominent performers as well as composers, here.

I feel the slightest bit sad about Reich's papers going overseas, as I also feel a bit sad to see Elliott Carter's name on the list. They are New York composers and American composers, and I can't help but wish that there were a place for their papers in the U.S., at the Morgan or NYPL, or the Smithsonian, or the Library of Congress. Very likely there isn't the money to fund the acquisition - I assume the Sacher pays, rather than simply accepting donations. I am grateful that the papers will be preserved in a proper archive, and kept together for study, of course, especially given the possible alternatives.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Considering the number of European, especially English, writers and artists whose works and papers have been bought by rapacious Americans and are now stored at the Huntingdon Library or the University of Texas, I'd say turnabout is fair play.