By Sarah Block
Special to UM News
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 13, 2016)—University of Miami Trustee Alfred Camner, his wife, Anne Camner, and their four children, all of whom are UM alumni, have made a donation to the University of rare and valuable scores composed by musical giants—from Beethoven to Gershwin—that were printed and bound during the composers’ lives.
Alfred, J.D. ’69, and Anne, J.D. ’72, along with children Danielle Camner Lindholm J.D. ’95, Errin Camner L.L.M. ’99, Lauren Camner Winter M.B.A. ’98, and Andrew Camner B.A. ’09, donated several hundred scores, collectively forming the Camner Family Music Collection, to the Marta and Austin Weeks Music Library and Technology Center at the Frost School of Music, where it will be available to UM students, researchers, and the public.
“It is our family’s desire that this collection of first and early printed music editions form the true start to creating an extraordinary musicological resource, unmatched by modern editions,” said Alfred Camner, who, with his wife, also endowed UM’s Camner Center for Academic Resources.
The collection features historical works spanning three centuries and with origins in many parts of the world. Collection materials include rare lithography-printed and leather-bound editions of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Alceste (1767), Georges Bizet’s Carmen (1875), and Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (1913), among many others published between the 18th and 20th centuries.
Shelton Berg, dean of the Frost School, calls the gift a “transformative” resource for members of the Frost School and beyond. “When we look at a recently published score of a musical work from 100 years ago or more, we are seeing the music as something ‘from the past,’” Berg says. “Conversely, when a student performer or researcher examines an original edition score, with the marginal notations, the music is suddenly ‘in the present.’ They are experiencing it in the time of its creation. It’s hard to describe the exhilaration that produces.”
The Camner Collection arrives as the University is preparing to carry out new initiatives supporting educational innovation and encouraging new pedagogical approaches in the classroom. Frank Cooper, research professor emeritus at the Frost School, says this timing is important. “In an age where electronic media have taken over, there are no research materials to compare to original objects, in this case, printed scores from the times of the composers themselves. How invaluable for researchers today and for many generations to come.”
In details such as marginal notations, Camner says, the collection reveals how scores were studied and used in practice, in concerts, and in opera houses through time. Additionally, notes may point to how the music has evolved. “There is no substitute for the feeling a scholar or music student gets from handling a score that might have been used by Beethoven or Verdi or Puccini or Stravinsky, scores published in their lifetimes, edited by them, and often later corrected or changed,” Camner says. “These first and early editions are the closest we get to a sense of the time and place and world of the composer, a time when the composers often depended on the sales of these scores for their livelihoods.”
Nancy Zavac, who heads the Weeks Music Library, says that the Camner Collection brings a new level of research prestige to the library, which houses a wide range of musicology resources, including modern books, journals, and recordings, as well as unique and distinctive materials. “All music librarians are eager to have treasures in their collections. The Camner Collection is such a thing. It is exciting for me and my staff to care for, and greatly enhances our holdings.”
Dean of Libraries Charles Eckman expressed deep gratitude to the Camner Family for donating this important collection. “Miami is notable for the presence of several individual collectors of rare and unique cultural and bibliographic treasures,” he said. “The Camner Family is to be commended for their appreciation of the scholarly and teaching value of this private collection, and we celebrate their generosity of spirit in enabling the exposure and application this collection will have at the University of Miami for current and future generations of researchers and students.”