Mason Librarian Shares Discovery of Digital Mozart Edition

Posted: April 9, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By David Driver

Mad about Mozart? If so, you’re in luck. The International Mozart Foundation and the Packard Humanities Institute recently made the modern critical edition of the composer’s complete works available on its Web site. Within the first four days, they were then bombarded with 12 million hits and struggled to keep up with the demand.

Steven Gerber, performing arts liaison librarian and an adjunct professor in the Music Department, learned of the free resource and shared his discovery with the Mason community in an informal presentation, “Navigating the open-access, online Mozart score series.”

Gerber placed the complete works in historical context, reviewed the structure of the edition—published by Bärenreiter—and showed how to locate, view, save and print any of the works of Mozart. The unveiling of the Digital Mozart Edition capped worldwide celebrations of the 250th anniversary of his birth.

It was the second of Gerber’s “Drop-in Musicology” at the Johnson Center Library. The first was held Feb. 9, and was titled “Test-Drive the Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals.” Gerber’s final event of the semester is slated for April 13, from 12:30 to 1:25 p.m. and is called “The secret world of free, Internet-only music journals.”

He plans to give information about several of the 24 scholarly music journals he has discovered that have on-line only access; no print versions exist. Without printing, mailing, or paid subscription lists, such journals seldom appear in library catalogs.

Gerber’s informal drop-in sessions are open to everyone in an effort to draw attention to the array of music resources available at the Mason libraries. The programs are held in the Johnson Center Library 228 (instruction room).

Gerber hopes to offer sessions this summer, including one featuring excerpts from DVDs on eminent mid-20th century conductors and a discussion of “Source: Music of the Avant Garde,” a provocative publication from the late 1960s.

The Minnesota native, who came to Mason in 2005 from the University of Buffalo, is doing his dissertation on the music of 19th-century American composer William Henry Fry (1813-1864). The composer was also an abolitionist, campaigner for Abe Lincoln and a journalist.

Among the papers Gerber has presented was “The American Civil War, the Sentimental Aesthetic, and William Henry Fry’s ‘Dying Soldier’ Symphony” at the Atlantic Chapter of Music Library Association, Peabody Conservatory, in Baltimore in 2005. He also had a poster session on his reconstruction of Fry’s ‘Dying Soldier Symphony’ last month at the Music Library Association annual conference in Pittsburgh.

“I am trying to tie this composition to the Battle of Gettysburg based on semiotic clues, which is a big, big stretch,” Gerber says. “I wanted to see the reaction of people at Gettysburg College. They had positive comments.”

Gerber earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in music theory-composition. He has a master’s degree in electronic music composition from the University of California, San Diego.

Gerber plays viola in Mason’s symphony orchestra and occasionally plays keyboard at his church. He is a member of the Music Library Association, the Society for American Music, the Virginia Historical Society, and the Civil War Preservation.

For more information on the drop-in sessions, email Gerber or call (703)993-9051.

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