On Sunday 5 November 1967 The New York times published “Who’s writing about music and where”, a review of the first quarterly volume of RILM Abstracts of Music Literature. The volume had been published in August of that year.
The reviewer, Raymond Ericson, noted that the volume “looks, hopefully, like the first permanent attempt to describe regularly what is being written about in the world’s significant literature on music” and that it “obviously fills a great need in musicological circles.” He also included summaries of six of the volume’s 497 entries.
Below, something else that happened a couple of days later.
From the time of his earliest proposal for creating RILM, Barry S. Brook (above) had a vision that “scholars working on specific research projects will eventually be able to request a bibliographic search by the computer of its stored information and to receive an automatically printed-out reply.”
RILM was too small to implement this task alone, so in 1979 it made an agreement with Lockheed Research Laboratory in Palo Alto, a division of Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, for the distribution of its data through the telephone lines.
In August 1979, the first month when RILM was available on the Lockheed platform, the database was searched 176 times by 24 users, earning $84.94 (see inset; click to enlarge).
Today RILM is searched online about 1.3 million times per week.
In 2004 the diversity among the staff at RILM’s International Center inspired the idea of compiling a cookbook, and the following year we quietly published Dining with RILM in a limited edition.
In her preface, Tina Frühauf,the book’s Editor-in-Chief, gives mouth-watering examples of RILM entries involving food—from David Tudor’s spice cabinet to Japanese rice planting ceremonies to the roles of eating and drinking in Verdi’s operas. Many of the recipes are music-related, if sometimes rather fancifully so (e.g., “A Faustian margarita”). Copies of this rare compendium are available from the International Center, though this information is not on our website—it’s a blog exclusive!
The cover photograph, reproduced above, was taken by our former Managing Editor, Murat Eyuboğlu. You are invited to post your own favorite music-related recipes below.
Before RILM set up online forms for sending us citations and abstracts, all submissions were made by writing or typing on forms like the one pictured above. We had forms in all necessary languages, color-coded for sorting. As was the case with most manual typewriters, corrections and diacritics all had to be added by hand. After we received completed forms, everything had to be retyped into the database (and, for non-English titles and abstracts, translated into English) at the International Center.
Over the years, countless volunteers have made such contributions to RILM, including some very distinguished figures in musicology and ethnomusicology. The example above was submitted by the preeminent Spanish musicologist José López-Calo (b.1922) for the retrospective project undertaken by RILM’s founder Barry S. Brook in the 1970s—a project that finally reached fruition with the publication of Speaking of Music: Music conferences, 1835–1966 in 2004. (Click on the image, or here, to see a larger reproduction.)
When we commenced work on our Festschriften retrospective project (the first volume, Liber amicorum, was recently published) we began with what was then the gold-standard reference work, Walter Gerboth’s An index to musical Festschriften and similar publications.
The Head Librarian of the Brooklyn College music library that now bears his name, Gerboth amassed a large collection of music Festschriften during the compilation of his book, and he bequeathed this collection to the library; Marguerite Iskenderian, a Music Cataloguer there, kindly shared these books with us so we could write abstracts for the essays therein. She also shared with us his collected notes—his Nachlaß—which he had also left to the library.
Like any good librarian of his time, Gerboth kept obsolete catalogue cards for scratch paper; his notes are all on the back of such cards, some neatly typed, some hastily handwritten. Most of these notes were citations for music-related articles in Festschriften with nonmusical dedicatees, articles that he had discovered in bibliographies or other sources; many were noted after his book had gone to press, for inclusion in a second edition that never materialized.
Among these cards were notes from his friends and associates with further citations or suggestions. One of the latter, reproduced below, includes the question “Who he?”—a humorous catch-phrase from a bygone era, perhaps originating in an old radio comedy.