Peabody Johns Hopkins University Magazine

Making the BSO’s Rich History Accessible

Making the BSO’s Rich History Accessible

Having performed more than a century’s worth of concerts, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has a rich history of public performance. Now, a new collaboration between the BSO and the Music Library Association’s Atlantic chapter looks to make information about thousands of concerts accessible to a wide audience of scholars and music lovers.

Peabody Institute librarians Kathleen DeLaurenti and Matt Testa and Catholic University graduate student Paul Sommerfeld are working with BSO ensemble librarian Michael Ferraguto to gather concert information from electronic records and archived concert programs. The librarians are building and refining a data set about the orchestra’s thousands of public performances, with information on where and when the concerts took place, what pieces the orchestra played, and who performed as a conductor or soloist.

“Performance data provides an immense, rich data set for our scholars and researchers. The New York Philharmonic has been leading the way with making this kind of information available to patrons and scholars,” says DeLaurenti, head librarian of the Peabody Institute and chair of the Music Library Association Atlantic Chapter. “[This project] will provide a fun tool for BSO patrons to see how often their favorite Beethoven symphony has been on the program … [and] that information will give researchers important insight into representation, trends, and popularity of repertoire.”

The resulting data set will be openly available to researchers on a GitHub site and will have an interactive interface hosted through a partnership with the Open Music Library.

“We hope this is just the first step in uncovering the amazing archives of the BSO,” DeLaurenti says. “The orchestra has been a centerpiece to the musical life of Baltimore for over 100 years, and we’re excited to make that history avail- able to the citizens of Baltimore and the global research community.”

This project is funded by the Atlantic Chapter of the Music Library Association, with additional funding from the Music Library Association Chapter Grant program.