January 20, 2006 Materials Documenting History of Western Music Now Online

Items from Moldenhauer Archives – The Richest Gift of Musical Documents in Library

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

A selection of the richest composite gift of musical documents ever received by the Library of Congress, the Moldenhauer Archives, is now available online at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/moldenhauer.

The overall archives contains approximately 3,500 items documenting the history of Western music from the medieval period through the modern era.

As a memorial to his wife of nearly 40 years, Hans Moldenhauer (1906-1987) established a directive and provided funds for the Library of Congress to publish “The Rosaleen Moldenhauer Memorial: Music History from Primary Sources: A Guide to the Moldenhauer Archives.”

This online presentation is drawn from that 2000 publication. It features more than 130 items (many complete works) from the Moldenhauer Archives. Also available are a series of essays by musicologists discussing individual items from the Moldenhauer Archives and a finding aid based on the publication’s comprehensive inventory of the archives held worldwide by the Library and other institutions.

Born in Mainz, Germany, in 1906, Hans Moldenhauer emigrated to the United States in 1938 to elude the rising tide of Nazi oppression. He eventually settled in Spokane, Wash., where he founded that city’s Conservatory of Music in 1942. An accomplished pianist, teacher, scholar and mountain climber, he began amassing his archives of primary source material shortly after World War II.

Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in about 1950, Moldenhauer’s progression into blindness took more than 20 years. As his eyesight deteriorated, he increasingly relied upon the assistance of his wife, Rosaleen, a former student and a musicologist in her own right, in assembling his collection.

Moldenhauer’s holdings span diverse genres, from medieval chant to experimental late-20th century compositions. Represented are materials from the most important figures in Western music, including Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Handel, Haydn, Mahler, Mozart, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Wagner and Webern. The archives are also rich in materials from Moldenhauer’s contemporaries, who were emerging while the archives were formed. Boulez, Cage, Dallapiccola, de la Vega, Penderecki, Stockhausen, Lutosawski, Cage and Rothberg are among the “moderns” whose compositions are represented in the collection. In addition to material associated with the great composers, there are diverse items from famous instrumentalists, singers, conductors, artists and writers.

Prior to his death, Moldenhauer sent parts of his archives to the Library of Congress and to other institutions in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the United States. In 1987, at his bequest, the balance of his archives came to the Music Division of the Library of Congress, where they remain one of the greatest collections of primary source music materials ever assembled.

“The Moldenhauer Archives” is one of more than 130 thematic presentations available from the American Memory Web site of more than 10.5 million items. These presentations range from the papers of U.S. presidents, Civil War photographs and early films of Thomas Edison to papers documenting the women’s suffrage and civil rights movements, Jazz Age photographs and the first baseball cards. The materials are drawn from the collections of the Library of Congress and other major repositories


PR 06-023
ISSN 0731-3527