WANTED: PRE-1925 ORCHESTRATIONS
We are actively searching for orchestrations. Regardless of condition, these artifacts of the era can be restored and played. We have rescued these pieces singly and by the boxful. You may have them in your house, out in the barn, under the floorboards.
What to do if you find orchestrations: Go to the Contact page on this Website and send a brief description of what you have and your contact information. That’s it!
Here’s a description of what we’re looking for and where they may be found:
Unlike piano sheet music, orchestrations usually have no cover artwork; in fact, they usually have no cover, or may be enclosed in a factory-supplied plain brown wrapper. Also, they are smaller than piano sheets. The typical size is ten inches high by seven inches wide (10″ x 7″). Some large format editions are about 14″ x 8-1/2″. The thickness depends on how many instrumental parts are enclosed, up to a quarter- or half-inch for very full ones.
There is no full score, only individual instrumental parts. The number and type of instruments in a complete arrangement may be any number from ten to 30. Eleven, 16, and 21 are typical sizes, but by no means does a variation indicate incompleteness. Also, some parts may have gone missing over the years. Even a partial arrangement is useful, because it could replace missing or damaged instrumental parts in our existing copy.
The first question we would have for you is about the number of titles. If you’ve discovered a large number of orchestrations (more than, say, 20) we’d want to first confirm that they are from the era of interest before getting into the exact titles and composers. The copyright date can usually be found at the bottom of the first page of the first violin, piano, and occasionally first cornet (or trumpet) parts. It is often printed in Roman numerals. If there is no date, we can fix the time period through other clues.
It is quite likely that if you have a large collection of pieces from this era, it is not necessary to identify individual titles and composers. If all else is satisfactory (no mold, for instance) and they seem desirable for our library, we would only need to arrange for their transport.
For smaller collections, or to take a random sampling of the contents, we need this information: title, subtitle (if any), composer, arranger or orchestrator (if listed), publisher (listed at the bottom of the pages), number of instruments, size of format (as noted above), general condition and any apparent problems.
Interesting variations: hand-written manuscript rather than published; autograph; other documents enclosed in the music; your familiarity with, or relationship to, the composer or orchestrator; musicians who may have owned or performed it; known history of the use of this piece in your locale, and so forth.
Music may be found accidentally or by search through certain locations in your home or town. Here are a few suggestions: piano bench, behind the piano, music cabinet, any other piece of furniture with a secret drawer or area that papers fall behind, under floorboards, behind walls, inserted within piano music or other publications, bookstore or music store storage areas, performance venue storage, barn, carriage house, shed, former bordello…