Tag Archives: CLP Music Department

On Virtuosity

Nicolò Paganini (image taken from Wikipedia.org)

Niccolò Paganini (1819), by Ingres – image taken from Wikipedia.org

Attaining virtuoso status is elusive and exclusive; a virtuoso is someone who has achieved the highest level of technical skill on their instrument, while also attaining the height of musicality. Showmanship, charisma and innate ability factor in as well.

Nicolò (or Niccolò) Paganini (1782-1840), is considered by many to be the greatest violinist of all time. He was so amazing that his audiences thought he was demonic. It was rumored in his day that when he was six, his mother made a pact with the devil to trade his soul for a career as the greatest violinist in the world. He was once forced to publish letters from his mother to prove he had human parents. He would pull off stunts to show his astonishing ability, like severing strings on his violin so that they would break during a performance, then continuing to play on the remaining strings.

The Music Department at CLP – Main has a few different editions of the music score to one of his most famous compositions, a notoriously difficult series of pieces to play: 24 Caprices for Violin Solo, Op. 1, composed between 1805 to 1809. The Music Department routinely obtains various editions of music scores with different editors who have diverse takes on how to play the pieces. Below are examples of Caprice No.5 in A minor (Agitato). The little numbers above the notes are the fingers you are supposed to use. Other marks denote accents and other technical aspects of how it is to be played. Look closely and you can see each has subtle but distinct differences.

24 Caprices for Violin Solo, Opus 1. International edition 1973, edited by Ivan Galamian.

2-int ed

From the International edition

Twenty-four Caprices for the Violin. : [Op. 1] – G. Schirmer edition 1941, edited by Harold Berkley.

3 - schir

From the G. Schirmer edition

Just for reference, here is the same piece in Paganini’s own hand. He supposedly was able to play this using just one string.

24 [i.e. Ventiquattro] Capricci Op. 1 : per Violino : Facsimile Dell’autografo.

1 fac

From the facsimile edition

Now listen to them! One of the music streaming services that CLP offers is the “Classical Music Library” from Alexander Street Press. Follow the links for remote access here: http://carnegielibrary.org/eCLP/music/. There are 10 different recordings of the full 24 for solo violin. You can open each one in a different tab to compare and contrast the individual performances.

Who played it best? First of all, bravo on being able to play these at all, and being good enough to record them. Who am I to judge you? Just an active listener who knows what she likes. I am looking for artistry, tone, technical prowess and that je ne sais quoi.

Here are my three favorite:

Itzhak Perlman (Warner Music, 2005) recorded in 1972, Massimo Quarta (Chandos, 2005) recorded in 2002, and Marco Rogliano (Tactus, 2004) recorded in 2000.

Do you have aspirations to become a virtuoso on the violin? You have to start somewhere. Practice, practice, practice!



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Welcome to the Music, Film & Audio Department!

Welcome to the Music, Film & Audio Department! We are located on the second floor of the Main Library. Let me show you around.


tour1In the front room the music CDs are organized by genre, including jazz, international, orchestral, new age, soundtracks, etc. This collection includes sound effects. The side wall holds all of the opera CDs. The framed Bakaleinikoff Tablecloth hangs in the back corner.



The back wall holds CD box sets of all genres.
On the other side of the room are audio books on CD: fiction shelved by author and non-fiction by call number, even famous speeches. There is a special section called Family Listening. For more children’s audio books, visit the very large selection downstairs in the Children’s Department.

Here are “Playaways” – MP3 devices that hold one audio book each.






This last wall is our Lecture Series collection on CDs and DVDs, spanning many subject areas. People rave about them!tour 6





In this next room are the DVD collections. Here are the TV Series, and then Foreign Films – filed by language, not by country. Yes, they all have English subtitles.

We have Feature Films, shelved by title, with a few shelves of best-sellers – DVDs of popular titles that just came in to the library. There are a few separate sections: Horror, Anime, Blu-Ray, and a shelf for Video Games.

tour 12The Non-fiction DVDs are organized by subject call number and contain history and science documentaries, music and art instruction, exercise, a travel section, and so much more—music concerts, plays, ballets, religious subjects, etc. etc. etc.

Here are the public computers. We also have a CD player, a record player, and a cassette tape player for public use.tour 2

tour13This is the Music, Film and Audio reference desk where you can get help from librarians. We have some non-circulating collections here including vocal scores and vocal selections from (almost) every musical. There are circulating copies of these as well.

At the Customer Services desk you pick up CDs, DVDs and other AV materials on hold. You can check out all of our circulating material at this desk as well as the Customer Services desk on the first floor.

tour21Here is the audio collection of language learning. We have CDs for English as a Second Language (ESL) for speakers of different languages, and a large selection of foreign language instruction CDs and Playaways that usually come with corresponding booklets. You’ll also find a shelf of dialect CDs for “Acting with an Accent” and DVDs for learning Sign Language.

tour15Next to this is a collection of Pittsburgh documentaries on DVD, and feature films that were made in Pittsburgh.

tour16On this wall is a full set of bound concert programs from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra from 1926 to the present. Under this is the Pittsburgh LP Collection (vinyl records).


In the next two rooms are music scores, books about music, and musical instrument instruction. Why don’t you just take the virtual tour?


*All photos by J. Killebrew


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How Does The Song Go?

Are you experienced?

Who are you?

Why are there so many songs about rainbows?

Will you still love me tomorrow?

How deep is your love?

What do you get when you fall in love?

Who wrote the book of love?

Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong?

Why do people want to fill the world with silly love songs?

Where have all the flowers gone?

Whatever happened to Fay Wray?

Should I stay or should I go?

Why don’t we do it in the road?

Could you be loved?

Who can it be now?

If I were a carpenter and you were a lady, would you marry me anyway? Would you have my baby?

Who are the Brain Police?

Don’t you want somebody to love?

Oh by the way, which one’s Pink?

Why do fools fall in love?

What if God were one of us?

How will I know if he really loves me?

How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?

Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

Do you really want to hurt me?

Do you believe in magic?

Will the circle be unbroken?

I want to know, have you ever seen the rain, comin’ down on a sunny day?

Does anybody really know what time it is?

Why don’t you love me like you used to do?

Miss Mousie, will you marry me?

Why can’t we be friends?

Are you lonesome tonight?

Why do you build me up, Buttercup baby, just to let me down?

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

Are we not men?

How can you just leave me standing, alone in a world so cold?

Do you remember when we used to sing – sha la la la la la la la la la la dee dah?

Can you feel the love tonight?

Did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?

What’s love got to do with it?

Do your ears hang low?

Who will buy this wonderful morning?

And it’s 1, 2, 3, what are we fighting for?

Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?

Hello, I love you; won’t you tell me your name?

Is there life on Mars?

Have you met my good friend Maria?

Can you hear the drums Fernando?

I’ll bet you think this song is about you, don’t you?

How much is that doggy in the window?

What’s new, Pussycat?

Who let the dogs out?

Is that all there is?

We can help you find the answers to all these burning questions at the Music, Film & Audio Department with our massive popular music songbook collection!


P. S. It’s a quiz! Try to guess the artist and song for each of the 55 questions, including the title of the post. I will post the answers separately below. Bonus points if you can guess my age based on the song list that I came up with.


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Have Your Cake and Concert, Too!

“Have You Tried the Music Library?”

In 1938, a group of musically prominent Pittsburgh citizens approached the director of Carnegie Library [of Pittsburgh] requesting that he consider the establishment of a music collection. He agreed and selected a thirty-year-old library assistant to be its initial organizer. Irene Millen gathered together the music materials scattered throughout the library system and made them accessible to the public. When it became clear that the acquisitions budget for music would not meet the demands of the enthusiastic public, Irene harnessed that enthusiasm to found the Friends of the Music Library, with an administrative board comprised of representatives from every Pittsburgh musical organization. The Friends served both as fundraiser and as public relations resource for the music collection. “Have you tried the library?” was something she taught the board to ask their constituencies whenever they had a music need or problem.

Ida Reed, the Music Department manager who succeeded Irene Millen, wrote this description of the establishment of the department. In my role as the current manager, I also like to ask the “Have you tried the Music Library?” question. Users, supporters and friends all know—there’s no better resource in Pittsburgh for the serious musician, as well as anyone with a casual interest in music, including, in the words of Irene Millen, “parents whose children are studying music, program annotators, and non-practicing music lovers.”

1938 — 2013

Next month the Music Department will celebrate 75 years of service to music fanciers in Pittsburgh and beyond. Cue the trumpets! Our new concert series heralds a coming season of celebration.

Sounds Upstairs: Hear the Library’s Music Department Collection Come to Life!

Sounds Upstairs intends to lead listeners of all ages up the welcoming marble staircase to the second floor of the Main Library in Oakland, to hear acoustic presentations of music drawn from our collection. The thousands of books, scores, and recordings that fill our department leave no room for concertizing, so our series will be held down the hall, in the International Poetry Room. 

Sunday, September 8, our inaugural concert presents violinist Sandro Leal-Santiesteban and cellist Hannah Whitehead performing both solo and duo pieces in a program ranging from Bach to Gershwin with recent compositions by Mark Summer and Pittsburgher Sean Neukom.

Sandro Leal-Santiesteban

Sandro Leal-Santiesteban

Hannah Whitehead

Hannah Whitehead

Sunday, September 8
3:30 — 4:30 PM
CLP – Main, International Poetry Room (second floor)

Before the concert, join us for a birthday cake reception hosted by the Friends of the Music Library, beginning at 2:30, in the Music Department.

After you try the library, please spread the word!



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Dewey (Eyed)

It’s the (foreseeable) end of an ERA! Finally, finally, finally! Music librarians and our esteemed music cataloger are working to eliminate the confusing two-types-of-call-numbers system we use for music books and scores. As our regular customers know all too well, we have both LC (Library of Congress) and Dewey call numbers on our shelves. LC call numbers for music look like this, for example: qM 1630.18 .M43 2010x, and Dewey numbers look like this: q 782.4 R19m2.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh adopted the LC numbering system waaaaay back in the dark ages of 1977. Any book or score that came into the library after that was given an LC number. At the time, it was deemed unrealistic to change the entire existing collection of Dewey to LC. Before computers, changing a call number required the music cataloger use a set of strict rules to get a new LC number for each item, and then change all of the cards in the card catalog. Multiply this by a few thousand and you’ll start to understand the predicament.

I started working in the music department in the 1990s, when roughly half the scores were in Dewey and half in LC. I can’t begin to relate how many times I’ve had to explain the numbering systems to customers! Welcome the Age of Information, where we have our entire catalog at our fingertips. It is now a relatively simple task to change the call numbers. Music librarians still evaluate items in question to decide if we should keep, replace, or repair a book or score. We have computers to help us research each item. Then we send them to the cataloger, where they get renumbered (or re-classed in library speak), and finally place them in their new positions on the shelves.

All I have to say is WHOOPIE! Mr. Dewey, your classification system is a fine one, but now I will bid you a fond(ish) adieu.

– Joelle


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