Music in the archives…

11 10 2007

Program from the Manuscript ClubIn 1888 the Manuscript Club gave its first concert at 152 Beacon Street, Mrs. Gardner’s first Boston home. A local paper, Town Topics, described the club that year: “Mrs. Gardner’s latest triumph in Boston is the successful launching of a new musical organization called the Manuscript Club, wherein all the several amateur musicians in town play their own compositions.” The Club had been organized to secure for local composers an intelligent and sympathetic hearing of their compositions and included local female composers – an avant garde idea for the times.

Notice the signature of Margaret Ruthven Lang. [Just click on the image at left to zoom in.] Five years after playing for Mrs. Gardner, in 1893, the Boston Symphony Orchestra programmed Lang’s “Dramatic Overture” and it became the first orchestral work written by a woman performed by an American orchestra.

Lift the fabric covers and peer closely into the glass cases found in the Yellow Room to discover other documents and artifacts related to Mrs. Gardner and her love for music, including a death mask of Beethoven and a sketch for music written by Tchaikovsky. Meet me in the Yellow Room on October 18th and I’ll tell you why Mrs. Gardner chose to save a cigarette given to her by Brahms…


Kristin Parker is archivist at the Gardner Museum, where she oversees an incredible collection of photographs, letters, guest books, travel diaries, china and more belonging to Isabella Gardner, much of it not regularly on view to the public. Over the coming months, Kristin will be bringing some of these exciting objects out of hiding for exclusive glimpses at After Hours, and posting images and excerpts from others of them right here on our blog.

Manuscript Club Music Program, 1888.



2 responses

9 11 2007
Isabella’s advice for the holiday table « Before & After

[…] We’re unsure of her skill in carving meats, but Kristin Parker is certainly skilled at organizing and caring for Isabella’s cookbooks, tableware and journals, all part of her job here at the Gardner Museum as our archivist. Whenever we seat her next to fellow archivists, “aside conversations” about acid-free paper or the preservation of digital photographs inevitably ensue. Read her last blog post, about Isabella’s “Manuscript Club,” here. […]

28 12 2007
Happy 1903! « Before & After

[…] Kristin Parker enjoys flipping through old newspapers, and much more, here at the Gardner Museum as our archivist. Take a look at another archival document, a concert program for another of Isabella’s renowned soirees, in her post about Isabella’s “Manuscript Club,” here. […]

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