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Squarcialupi Codex, a Gem in Music Library’s Repertoire of Fascinating Collections

By econnections on June 19, 2013 1:52 PM | Permalink

Ask a student worker or librarian for the most interesting item in the Music Library, and any one of them is apt to pull out a facsimile of a 14th century manuscript. The “Squarcialupi Codex” is an assortment of handwritten pieces by Italian composers with gold leafed edges and full-color artwork at the beginning of each section. It is completely handwritten due to the fact the printing press hadn’t been invented yet.

“It’s visually stunning,” said Cheryl Taranto, head of the Music Library. “This had to take a lot of time to do. Written in medieval music notation, we don’t often see this kind of manuscript in the modern music world.”

The “Squarcialupi Codex” may be a cherished possession in the Music Library, but it’s just one manuscript in the branch’s facsimile editions and only part of the library’s vast collection, which includes print books, CDs, DVDs, scores and music reference. The library’s collection, as a whole, primarily supports teaching and research for the Music, Dance, and Theater Departments, The focus of the collection housed at the Music Library  is predominantly related to classical music and jazz with a small amount of popular music to support the History of Rock ‘n’ Roll courses.

There are more than 35,000 print scores, 12,000 CDs and more than 3,000 DVDs in the collection. The facsimile editions, which include the “Squarcialupi Codex,” are easily the most fascinating, with copies of manuscripts by masters such as Mozart, Bach and Beethoven.“Students can look at them and see what the composer wrote with his own hand. You get a glimpse of their personalities and the way they went about composing their music,” Taranto said. Some are messy, with wine spilled on them, but that’s part of their charm. “The manuscripts are kind of special.”

Electronic resources  for music recently welcomed two additions with Classical Music in Video, a database that includes streaming video of classical music performances, master classes, workshops, documentaries and interviews with composers and performers from around the world, and Dance in Video, containing dance performances, interviews, and documentaries. The collection was added to the Music Library in the spring based on faculty requests and the support it would give to the curriculum. “Both are completely relative to the curriculum,” Taranto said. “Classical Music in Video ranges from chamber music to solo vocalists to symphonies. Dance in Video is important for both dancers and musicians, and includes not only classical ballet, but also contemporary and ethnic dance.  Both are  accessible 24/7 to UNLV students and faculty.”

Other electronic databases include the Classical Scores Library, volumes 1 and 2; Grove Music Online, which is part of Oxford Music Online and contains the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, among others; and Opera in Video. With a Rebel Card activated through the UNLV Libraries and login information, students can access any of the materials from the Electronic Resources anytime from anywhere.

Another group of resources located in the Music Library is the Music Education Resource Center, which includes scores, etudes, method books and other reference materials to support everything from elementary general music, Orff, choir, band and orchestra pedagogy at all K-12 levels. Future music educators can use it to become familiar with materials available to them once they graduate and begin their teaching careers. “It contains materials future music educators need to be aware of,” Taranto added. “It also can align with pedagogy classes here on campus.”

Those interested in the Music Library’s collections can visit or call the branch at 702-895-2541.