Monday (4/12) on National Public Radio’s website, Lara Pellegrinelli writes, “For most people, Aaron Copland evokes a particular kind of American spirit—of rugged frontiers, vast open spaces, the Old West. … Copland’s voice, with its Brooklyn tinge, can reveal different perspectives than notes or words crafted for the page. That’s the point of some 2,000 interviews that make up Yale’s still-growing Oral History of American Music. Fondly referred to as OHAM, it was founded 40 years ago by librarian Vivian Perlis, and it’s still the only project of its kind. Libby Van Cleve is the archive’s associate director. Even though the working collection lives in a single room, its breadth is enormous. … In the 1960s, Vivian Perlis was just an underling. The mother of three worked part time in the Yale Music Library before women were even admitted to the college. A Charles Ives enthusiast, Perlis jumped at the chance to retrieve materials that the late composer’s business partner wanted to donate. … The tapes Perlis collected became the award-winning book Charles Ives Remembered. By presenting transcripts of first-person accounts, it introduced a new approach to the study of American concert music.”

Posted April 13, 2010