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Meet the Problem Solver: Liz Berndt-Morris, Music Reference and Research Services Librarian

Welcome to Meet the Problem Solvers, a new blog series in which Loeb Music Library staff introduce themselves.

For our first post, we’ll meet problem solver Elizabeth Berndt-Morris. She goes by Liz and she is a dog person.

What does a Music Reference and Research Services Librarian do?

My job is very interactive. I talk to patrons (faculty, students, staff, outside researchers) to help them understand the library and all it has to offer. This includes one-on-one conversations and teaching in classes, among other things. 

What’s your favorite thing about the Music Library?

My favorite thing about the music library is that we are embedded in the Music Building. I appreciate the friendships we have with the Music Department staff and students.

What’s a notable (interesting/challenging/unusual) project that you’ve worked on lately?

In January 2021 I’m teaching a 3-week course for ALA (American Library Association) and MLA (Music Library Association) called ‘Music Librarianship for non-Music Librarians’. Teaching and informing others about music librarianship so they can improve their skills as a librarian is one of my favorite professional activities. 

Who are you when you’re not a Music Reference and Research Services Librarian? 

A fiber artist. I like to spin my own yarn and knit on a daily basis. I also dye, crochet and weave, but knitting is my go-to.

What’s your favorite library-related moment in a movie, novel or TV show?

I love the scene in ‘Party Girl’ (1995) where Parker Posey’s character (a future librarian, Mary) has a meltdown when someone shelves their own book which has her questioning why we even have call number systems at all. 

Liz poses with her Great Dane puppy Olive. Liz has long red hair and wears fun blue glasses. Olive looks serious. There is a bright blue sky behind them.

Liz and Olive

Thanks, Liz!

To learn more about the Music Library’s fascinating people and unmatched collections, visit us online:  Loeb Music Library Website.

For immediate help from a Harvard librarian during our chat hours, submit your question here: Ask A Librarian.

 

Uqbāl mīt Sanah, Aziz El-Shawan

Aziz El-Shawan (1916-1993) was twentieth-century Egypt’s most prominent composer. His collection of manuscript scores, including finished works, sketches and miscellaneous other materials — is held here at Harvard’s Loeb Music Library, and we are excited to announce that the Aziz El-Shawan Collection of Manuscript Scores is now fully processed, with nearly all of its contents digitized and freely available online.

In this half-body photographic portrait, the composer Aziz El-Shawan is depicted wearing a three-piece dark suit and looking into the distance.

Portrait of Aziz El-Shawan. From the private collection of Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco.

After Egypt’s Soviet Cultural Center was founded in 1952, El-Shawan served as its director for fifteen years, which afforded him opportunities to travel to Moscow, where he befriended and eventually studied with renowned Soviet composer Aram Khachaturian, whose influence on the development of El-Shawan’s composition style was profound.

El-Shawan was a prolific composer of songs, symphonies, symphonic poems, ballets, choral works, cantatas, operas, concertos, suites, and chamber music. He considered Western tonal music to be an “international musical language” and created a new musical idiom in which he wrote for both Western and Egyptian instruments.

His best-known work, Anās El-Wugūd, was the first Egyptian opera with Arabic language and content to reach the stage. It was first performed in Cairo in 1996.

Several people in colorful traditional Egyptian costumes stand on a short flight of steps.

A scene from the 1996 premiere of Anās El-Wugūd at the Cairo Opera House. From the private collection of Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco.

From our collection, here are select pages of his manuscripts of the opera’s full score and vocal score.

Pages 18-19 of the orchestral score of Aziz El-Shawan's opera Anās El-Wugūd, written by the composer himself. Several lines of music spread across a tall sheets of ruled staff paper, with orchestral number 7 at the top of page 19 in red ink.

Anās El-Wugūd (full score). Aziz El-Shawan Collection of Manuscript Scores. Ms. Coll. 155, Box 5.

 

Pages 205-206 of the vocal score of Aziz El-Shawan's opera Anās El-Wugūd, copied by the composer himself. Several systems of music spread across a tall sheets of ruled staff paper, with Arabic text underlay and annotations.

Anās El-Wugūd (vocal score). Aziz El-Shawan Collection of Manuscript Scores. Ms. Coll. 155, Box 7.

Our finding aid for the Aziz El-Shawan Collection of Manuscript Scores contains information about each piece, along with links to electronic copies of all the pieces we have digitized.

And in honor of May 6th being the 104th anniversary of El-Shawan’s birth date, here from our collection is a birthday song that he composed (with lyrics by Nabilah Qandil), titled Uqbāl mīt Sanah.

The three-page autograph manuscript score of Aziz El-Shawan’s song Uqbāl mīt Sanah (Happy Birthday to You). Apart from the English translation on the title page, the score text is in Arabic.

Uqbāl mīt Sanah (Happy Birthday to You). Aziz El-Shawan Collection of Manuscript Scores. Ms. Coll. 155, Box 6.

This post was written by Josh Kantor, Assistant Keeper of the Isham Memorial Library. The Aziz El-Shawan Collection is available to view online. Interested researchers may view the rest of the collection by appointment. When the Harvard library buildings re-open, click View in Library in the HOLLIS record for the Aziz El-Shawan Collection of Manuscript Scores and tell us when you would like to visit.

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