Thursday, June 18, 2015


The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts was built and designed especially for the Philadelphia (Symphony) Orchestra by architect Rafael Vinoly and accoustician Russell Johnson.  It opened Dec. 2001. There are two performance spaces: Verizon Hall, a 2,500 seat (red plush and gold) theater, and the Perelman Theater, a 650 seat chamber concert venue. The complex is named for philanthropist Sidney Kimmel, who served on the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

We were met at the spacious entrance by Steve Glazman, librarian of the PO Archives. After a short tour of the Verizon Hall we went directly to the PO Library. As you can imagine, it is filled with music scores, books, reference material, arrangements, correspondence, photos, and signatures of famous artists and musicians since the PO's founding in 1900. The long list of conductors is a list of the who's who of the world of artistic directors and performers.

The conductors of the PO starting with Fritz Scheel (1900-70), Carl Pohlig (1907-12, Leopold Stokowski (1912-1936), Eugene Ormandy (1936-1980), Ricardo Muti (1980-1993), Wolfgang Sawallisch (1993-2003), Christoph Eschenbach (2003-2008), Charles Dutoit (2008-2012), ending with Yannick Nezet-Sequin (2012 to the present). All have brought strength to various periods of music history. The first two were heavy with German literature, while Stokowski brought the modern (current) composers (Berg, Mahler, Rachmaninov, Schoenberg, Scriabin, Sibelius and Stravinsky) thus widening the scores in the archives. But, Eugene Ormandy, who was conductor for 44 years, brought the "Philadelphia Sound." Ormandy truly put this orchestra on the map. They traveled the world as well as the USA, making over 400 recordings. Wherever they went they used their expertise to teach Master Classes at major universities as well as including local talents, children's choirs, and visits to public school classrooms. The PO was the first US orchestra to perform in the People's Republic of China, and also Vietnam.  They spent two-day, then three-day, and finally four days in Ann Arbor, Michigan performing each day at the prestigious May Festival for over thirty years. Performances were sold out for years as Ormandy reached millions and millions of people. He perfected the process of bringing music to as many people as possible. The sound was grand, as he had the top players in the first two chairs of each section, with instruments that were the finest….hence, the Philadelphia Sound. When Ricardo Muti took the baton, he expanded this even further by encouraging commissioned works, premiers of new composers works and an artist-in-residence program. He also revived the operatic music tradition. All of this music builds  an archive filled with material that makes other orchestras jealous. Sawallisch, Eschenbach (who also loved to tour) and Nezet-Sequin are carrying on these traditions.

Steve introduced us to Dr. Gary Galvan, of the Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music, who presented a lively discussion on the music. He is also a jazz musician, bringing yet another dimension to the library. He proceeded to take us weaving through various corridors to the Academy of Music library, right next door. This was an unexpected tour. This academy serves students through both Bachelors and Masters programs. We saw costumes for the "Lion King" which was being performed here…lots of giraffes! The Library was small but filled with posters and designs for plays, musical performances and ballet. We ended going down the stairs into the space beneath the stage, where a large cistern still remains from the late 1800's, This was definitely a first, an unexpected Phantom-Of-The-Opera experience. And to think these wonderful spaces were just across the street from our hotel.  Many thanks to Steve and Gary. We had a wonderful time in your world.

We then headed back to the hotel for even more excitement from the Philobiblon Club. They had brought in 18 of their favorite book dealers to set up displays of their wares, while serving us cocktails and wonderful munchies in the Ormandy West Room! How appropriate!  This was a grand gesture. Dealers were there from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Vermont and Pennsylvania. They provided us with a big book bag filled with catalogs and there was still room for us to purchase some wonderful examples of their trade. It was a mini museum of treasures.

So we would like to thank those dealers who made it possible for us to dream. I know I can sit for hours planning my perfect library. You gave us the opportunity.

B & B Rare Books, Ltd. , Bauman Rare Books,  Between the Covers Rare Books, Inc., Ian Brabner, Rare Americana,  James Cummins Booksellers, Inc., Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc., Imperial Fine Books, Inc., George Macmanus Company, Martayan Lan, LLC., Bruce McKittrick Rare Books, Inc., Mosher Books, Musinsky Rare Books, Inc., Oak Knoll Books, Philadelphia Rare Books and    Manuscripts Co, LLC., Jeffrey Rovenpor Rare Books, Carmen D. Valentino Rare Books and Manuscripts, and Lizzy Young Bookseller.

From this wonderful setting we crossed the street to have dinner at the Perch Pub (which does not sell perch). Over 30 of us ordered wonderful dinners and had a little bit of pub ale as well. It was a great day. We were so glad the Philobiblons invited us to Philadelphia!  Thank you !  Now, about tomorrow…... 

Joan Knoertzer

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