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FAU Libraries Receive Rare Piano
Scores from Widow of Music Collector Richard Beattie Davis
Scores Date from 1886 – 1908
BOCA RATON, FL ( April 29, 2010 ) – Gillian Davis, widow of Florida Atlantic University Libraries benefactor Richard Beattie Davis, has donated six rare piano scores that are more than 100 years old to the Wimberly Library music collection established in 1984 by her husband.
Four of the scores are by Alexander Glazunov and join the collection of 52 works by this composer in the library’s special collections and archives. The Sonata No. 1 is dedicated to Madame Nadejda Rimsky-Korsakov, wife of the famous Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The rare “Mosaique” by Shcherbachov is the first piece in the collection by this composer and is dedicated to Glazunov.
The scores are dated between 1886 and 1908, and are published by Russian publisher M.P. Belaieff. “They have decorative fonts and are of great historical and musical value,” said Gillian Davis. “When you think about how fragile they are, for any of them to have survived is rare.”
Richard Davis, a well known music collector, researcher and writer who lived in Kent, England, and wintered in Boynton Beach, died in September 2008, just months after the release of his book The Beauty of Belaieff. The book is a veritable “who’s who” of 19 th century Russian music with 143 full-page color plates. His wife continues the couple’s tradition of wintering in Boynton Beach and volunteering in the Davis collection.
“ FAU Libraries was delighted to receive this wonderful gift and continues to enjoy the assistance of Mrs. Davis in promoting the Richard Beattie Davis Music Collection to students, researchers and performers,” said Ellen Randolph , rare books librarian.
The Davis collection, which has 796 items, largely consists of first and early editions of a variety of music dating from the early 1790s to the first two decades of the 20 th century. There are full scores of first German editions of the nine symphonies of Beethoven and several of his orchestral works, a miscellaneous collection of 19 th century editions of choral, orchestral and piano music and over 60 piano works of J.N. Hummel.
The couple’s strategy in collecting music scores was to find scores by the original publishers because they are usually checked for errors by the composer. “We travelled all over the world to find them. We were in Russia during the Cold War and during our adventures Richard was even held up at gunpoint in Paris,” said Davis.
Similar scores adorn the walls up the staircase of the Davis home in England. When asked about a favorite, Davis said it depends on her mood. Each one has a story, she said.
When Davis was in Boynton Beach this year, she came to the library nearly every week, and when she wasn’t at the library, she frequently corresponded with the library’s staff through e-mails. She gets the greatest satisfaction by helping to spread the word about the collection.
Davis last visited the library with her husband in February 2008, when the library celebrated the release of The Beauty of Belaief with a performance titled “A Little Russian Morning Music.” During the celebration, Richard Davis, who talked about his work, said “I do sincerely hope the chat and the collection will help promote music, not only at FAU, but in Florida and throughout the United States.”
The Davis Collection can be viewed by appointment, Monday through Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, contact Ellen Randolph at 561-297-3594 or visit http://www.library.fau.edu/depts/spc/spc/davis.htm.
About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts 10 colleges: College of Architecture, Urban & Public Affairs, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, the College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Engineering & Computer Science, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Graduate College, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit www.fau.edu .