Secretly amassed treasure trove of musical manuscripts donated to Juilliard

A commodities trader who secretly amassed manuscripts handwritten by the titans of classical music has donated his collection to the Juilliard School, the conservatory announced Tuesday.

The 139-piece collection ranges from Purcell's opera "Dido and Aeneas," dating to the 1680s, to works by Schnittke written in the 1990s. Also included are works by J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Liszt, Wagner, Mahler and Stravinsky, among many others.

"It's a historic day at the Juilliard School," said Joseph W. Polisi, president of the conservatory, which is celebrating its centenary year. "The gift represents one of the finest collections of musical manuscripts to be amassed in modern times."

Bruce Kovner, chairman of Juilliard's board and founder of Caxton Associated LLC, acquired the items during the past decade through anonymous purchases at auctions.

"I started collecting just for the personal pleasure of being close to these icons of the greatest musical achievements in Western music," Kovner said.

The collection to be known as The Juilliard Manuscript Collection will be housed at the school in 2009, after construction of a specially designed reading room. It will be available to scholars, performers and the public by appointment.

"At a certain point I realized that it would be better to make this collection available to the rest of the world rather than to keep it under a mattress," Kovner said, reports AP.


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