Author: linklater (page 1 of 15)

Welcome (back), Professor Eileen Southern

Eileen Southern, a Black woman who was a professor at Harvard University, is depicted. Professor Southern is wearing a white short-sleeved blouse smiles at the camera. Her body is turned away.

Portrait of Professor Eileen Southern. Lilian Kemp. August 4, 1986. Radcliffe College Archives PC 479-1-2.

On your next visit to the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, take the stone steps to the second and third floors. In the stairwell, you’ll be greeted by three striking portraits of Eileen Southern (1920-2002), a professor in Harvard University’s Department of Music and Department of Afro-American Studies from 1974 to 1986. Professor Southern’s book The Music of Black Americans: A History, now in its third edition and most recently reprinted in 2022, essentially created a new academic subfield — Black music studies.

Eileen Southern, a Black woman who was a professor at Harvard University, is depicted. She is sitting at a conference table. Her book The Music of Black Americans rests in front of her. She is wearing a sleeveless dress and a printed blouse. Professor Southern is smiling.

Portrait of Eileen Southern. Martha Stewart. [197-?] Radcliffe College Archives PC 479-1-1. Image ID 4120734.

These portraits were discovered in a HOLLIS Images search for “Eileen Southern.” HOLLIS Images brings together image content from archives, museums, libraries and other collections across Harvard. High-quality images are readily available to view and download.

Eileen Southern, a Black woman who was a professor at Harvard University, is depicted. Professor Southern is smiling and laughing. She is standing in front of a chalkboard. Professor Southern is wearing a two-piece suit.

Professor Eileen Southern Standing in Front of a Chalk Board. Photographer unknown. [1976?] Radcliffe College Archives PC 479-1-4. Image ID 29864970.

Professor Southern’s childhood in Minnesota, her studies at the University of Chicago and New York University, her years of teaching at HBCUs, and her deep and innovative study of early European music and African American music are described on Eileen Southern and The Music of Black Americans, a digital exhibition created by Harvard students, faculty and staff.

Three black-and-white framed photographs are mounted on a wall. They depict Professor Eileen Southern, a faculty member at Harvard University. Professor Southern was a Black woman.

Three portraits of Professor Eileen Southern line a stairwell of the Loeb Music Library.

Contributed by Christina Linklater, Keeper of the Isham Memorial Library and Houghton Music Cataloger. Christina Linklater was co-director of the Eileen Southern Initiative.

Bel canto and beyond

The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library has recently acquired the personal collection of Italian accompanist, conductor and vocal coach Luigi Ricci (1893-1981): printed scores containing vocal exercises, opera and other large-scale vocal genres, instrumental music and songs, many of them annotated, some heavily, by Ricci and others. Taken as a whole, the collection illustrates the knowledge and taste of an important figure in the opera world of twentieth-century Italy.

A two-page article by Luigi Ricci outlining the opera singing techniques he learned from Giacomo Puccini. Illustrated by a caricature of the composer.

“Ten Commandments of Puccini,” by Luigi Ricci. Opera News (December 17, 1977). Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library Mus 15.17

From an early age, Ricci provided piano accompaniment at voice lessons given by baritone Antonio Cotogni, whose performances of several Verdi operas were supervised by the composer himself. Ricci took careful notes throughout his career, eventually publishing several books in which he communicates the nineteenth-century bel canto traditions passed on to him in his teenage years by Cotogni and, subsequently, by the composers with whom he collaborated as an assistant conductor at the Rome Opera House.

A vocal score of Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi. The cover is printed in black and blue on white wrappers. Across the top of the cover, Luigi Ricci has boldly written his last name in blue crayon

Ms. Coll. 179, Box 12. Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard University

The impact of Luigi Ricci on twentieth-century opera performance is summarized by Renata Scotto in a 2016 Opera News article: ““When I teach, I’m thinking of my own teachers and of the great conductors I learned so much from. They gave to me so much—and I gave to them a lot, I believe. In the beginning, I had a great teacher—Luigi Ricci, who had been a coach at Teatro di Roma and did Butterfly with Puccini. I got directly what Puccini told him. I feel it’s my duty to pass it on to young singers. Ricci spoke a lot about the words. Puccini was very much interested in the interpretation, the passion, the love. ‘Un bel dì’ is not an aria—you tell a vision. Ricci told me, ‘Don’t sing too much—don’t make a big sound. Have a vision of that nave bianca.’”

He is best known today for interpreting Puccini and Verdi, but Ricci’s collection also includes scores, most of them enthusiastically annotated, of scores by Shostakovich, Wagner, Mozart and many others. This 1945 vocal score of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes bears Ricci’s typical traces of ownership:

Two pages of music: a vocal score edition of Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes (1945). Former owner Luigi Ricci has added Italian translation and several expressive notes.

Ms. Coll. 179, Box 14. Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard University.

The Luigi Ricci collection of scores, 1865-1969 was processed by Émilie Blondin and Christina Linklater. The entire collection is now available; click on Request to Copy or Visit to schedule your appointment or arrange for scans.

Contributed by Christina Linklater, Keeper of the Isham Memorial Library and Houghton Music Cataloger.

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