NEW YORK UNIVERSITY                DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC

AMERICAN INSTITUTE FOR VERDI STUDIES
 

The AIVS Archive

The archive of the American Institute for Verdi Studies is located in Bobst Library of New York University. It is believed to be the best-balanced collection of research materials relating to the life and music of the composer, his wife and members of the Verdi circle in existence today. For the most part on film, it consists of 1) Scores and parts, 2) Librettos, 3) Letters, documents, and other archival materials, 4) Production materials, 5) Nineteenth-century Italian music periodicals, 6) Miscellaneous.  (See below for a brief description of each category.)

Descriptions and lists of the materials found in the Verdi Archive have been published in several issues of the Verdi Newsletter.  The American Institute for Verdi Studies is currently in the process of preparing searchable online databases of its holdings.


1.
SCORES AND PARTS.

a) Approximately 280 manuscript and 50 printed orchestral scores, including 32 autographs and autograph sketches by Verdi.
b) About 290 piano-vocal scores of music by Verdi, almost all of them printed.
c) More than 3,000 individual parts (mainly manuscript) and arrangements. The arrangements include a sizable amount of materials for the stage bands and small orchestras.

2. LIBRETTOS AND SCENARIOS

a) More than 2,200 librettos for operas by Verdi, a large majority dating from the nineteenth century. A number of the librettos and several scores had manuscript additions to facilitate their use as staging manuals. See 4. below.
b) MS scenarios (abbreviated prose versions of the librettos), libretto drafts (e.g. Ernani, Il trovatore, Simon Boccanegra, and Aida), and thirteen scenarios and librettos for operas Verdi never completed. These include Shakespeare's King Lear, The Tempest, andCymbaline (as Rowena), Moliere's Tartuffe, and Grillparzer's Die Ahnfrau (as L'Avola). Versions of the first and last of these are in Verdi's own hand.

3. LETTERS, DOCUMENTS, AND ARCHIVAL MATERIALS

a) Thousands of letters written by the composer and his second wife, Giuseppina Strepponi Verdi, both manuscript and printed, including 1,500 to the composer's principal publisher, Ricordi, and an equal number from the publisher to the Verdis. The latter are included in the immense collection of letters to the Verdis and other documents, more than 5,000 items, filmed at the composer's estate, the Villa Verdi at Sant'Agata.
b) Drafts of much of the correspondence from the Verdis preserved in notebooks (Copialettere) and also filmed at Sant'Agata. Those by Verdi began in 1844 and run to the end of his life. They were published in 1913, not however without some mistakes and important omissions. Those of Giuseppina began in1860, shortly after their marriage in 1859, and have been published only in small part and badly.
c) Financial documents, contracts and records of monies borrowed or loaned, as well as lists of performances of individual operas that were kept by Verdi to verify royalty payments, included in both sets of the Copialettere, have never been published.
d) More than 3,100 letters to Ricordi from important musicians (e.g. Franz Liszt, Emanuele Muzio, and Angelo Mariani) and singers from the archive of Casa Ricordi.
e) The manuscript ledgers (libroni) of Casa Ricordi and Lucca, which record the dates work began and was ended for almost every item in the publication list of the Milanese publishers.
f) Materials from four theater archives (Venice, La Fenice , Parma, Teatro Regio, Trieste, Teatro Giuseppe Verdi, and Brussels, Thť‚tre de la Monnaie).

4. PRODUCTION MATERIALS

a) Approximately 65 staging manuals, including 1) All Verdi's operas from Les VÍpres siciliennes (in its censored Italian version, Giovanna de Guzman) to Otello published by Ricordi in the second half of the nineteenth century; 2) Some 45 printed and manuscript (mainly) staging manuals from Paris, where the practice of preparing staging manuals originated (several of these are printed librettos with MS annotations for staging added); 3) A group of German librettos of the best known operas by Verdi printed at the end of the nineteenth century by Reclam of Stuttgart with an appendix of staging directions and blocking diagrams included in each; 4) A group of printed Italian librettos with manuscript staging directions added either directly on the printed page or on inserted blank pages, as at Paris.
b) Hundreds of nineteenth-century figurini (costume sketches) in black and white (mainly) or color filmed in Milan, Parma, and Naples. Many scene designs, for the most part from printed sources, and attrezzi (stage implements such as swords, helmets, etc.) filmed in Trieste.
c) About ninety wall posters filmed at Milan, Venice, and Trieste.

5. NINETEENTH-CENTURY ITALIAN MUSIC PERIODICALS

A rich collection of films of nineteenth-century Italian periodicals devoted completely or in large part to music, including complete runs for Teatri, Arti e Letteratura, and the Gazzetta Musicale di Milano, as well as numerous rare periodicals from Milan, Florence, Naples, and elsewhere.

6.MISCELLANEOUS

a) Verdi's own autograph collection containing letters by musicians such as Donizetti, Bellini, and Paganini, a musical autograph by Mozart, and many letters written by famous historical individuals (Mazzini, Manzoni, Cavour and others). Films of works of art by contemporary Italian painters and sculptors given to the composer.
b) Films of contemporary engravings and photographs of interpreters of Verdi's music.
c) A large collection of secondary sources relating to Verdi and opera contained in the Verdi Archive and the Music Collection of Bobst library where the Archive is housed. These include many chronicles of opera houses, a large selection of twentieth-century music periodicals, and nineteenth-century periodicals from countries other than Italy, and a small number of individual programs for Verdi operas.

Due to space and staff limitations, readers are admitted to the Verdi Archive at New York University by appointment only.  Scholars who wish to visit the Archive should send an e-mail to verdi.institute@nyu.edu, or call the Institute at (212) 998-2587, specifying their research needs.  Our staff will make arrangements to grant them access to the Verdi Archive.

N.B. Much of the material in the collection was filmed under restrictive agreements forbidding reproduction and publication without the express permission of the owners.


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American Institute for Verdi Studies • New York University, Department of Music, 24 Waverly Place, Room 268, New York, NY 10003 • 212-998-2587 • verdi.institute@nyu.edu