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CLASSICAL  May 2009

CLASSICAL May 2009

Subject:

Notes on a Listmember's Passing and Music Library

From:

William Hong <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 7 May 2009 19:36:57 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (74 lines)

Several discussions in recent years here have detailed the difficulties
involved in bequeathing or donating recorded classical music collections
to libraries that are pressed for space to hold them, or competence to
care much about offering alternative solutions.  Here's some more cheerful
news along that front, though it comes as the result of the passing of
a long time friend.  So please indulge this little story.

An early and occasional subscriber to the List was Tom Shirhall,
who also happened to be the Human Resources staffer who watched over
my transition to my current 'day job,' and who was also a friend to
Listmeister Dave Lampson.  In those early MCML days of the mid-90s when
Dave was still in the Washington DC area, he would occasionally visit
with Tom and myself for lunch, then we'd head afterwards for a diversion
to the nearby Tower Records.  Back then Tower was a worthwhile visit in
that it had a well stocked classical CD inventory, and in the case of
this local store, staff who were knowledgeable and helpful about classical
music recordings.

After Dave moved out to California (and Tower began its long decline),
Tom and I would still go out to lunch on a regular basis to nearby Asian
(Chinese, then Korean) restaurants, and we'd discuss the latest recordings
he'd gotten or performances he had traveled to see.  Over the years he
amassed extensive collections of performances of French Baroque works
and operas, the works of Handel, and of other Baroque composers.  More
recently he diverged into other periods and genres, such as Spanish
Zarzuelas.  While most of the collection were commercial CDs, there were
also aircheck tapes, videos and the like--many obtained as a result of
partnerships and friendships forged over the Internet to trade rare and
unknown, never-issued performances of these works.  In early music, Tom
was fully aware and appreciative of HIP styles, but also cherished the
less-HIP recordings--if Dame Janet Baker or Kirsten Flagstad or Kathleen
Ferrier did Handel, it was just as valid.  The important criteria was
musicality, not historicity.

All this activity continued well into his retirement years, when he
still would stop by my office every few months to pick me up for our
lunches together.  Of course Tom loaned me some of his recordings--HIP
Baroque of course, but more recently many old performances of the standard
violin concerto repertoire, done over the decades by the great 20th
century virtuosi.  This happened as he became more aware of my younger
son's serious study of the instrument and desire to learn how they played
these works, and I was able in turn to give him occasional videos of
Brian's recital and competition performances.

My last lunch with Tom was only a few weeks before he passed away a year
ago, suddenly and unexpectedly.  At the one year anniversary I re-connected
with his widow, and the good news she tells me is that Tom's collection
will have a new permanent home, in a recently established music library
at the Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center just outside of Tysons Corner,
Virginia.  The process of sorting out the collection for appraisal
purposes is continuing, partly against some databases Tom kept of his
collection.  But being constantly in flux, such a collection could not
be cataloged up to the minute, so it will take some more time to work
out all the necessary sorting.  Jean has promised to call if she should
need more help in the effort, which will be much more rewarding than the
alternative of trying to sell off such a library piece by piece.  Eventually
most all of Tom's collection will reside there for the research needs
of performing artists and other qualified scholars, and is said to
represent a substantial enlargement of the Library.  Tom's contributions
will be recognized in some commemorative form on the premises, and for
once a recorded classical music library will be well served by originator
and recipient alike.

Bill H.

[Thanks so much for letting us know about this, Bill.  Tom Shirhall was
 a friend and a cultured gentleman, in the finest sense of the word.  I
 am lucky to have known him.  -Dave]

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