I'd like to respond to Bruce Clark's post about Ampico rolls at
Cornell University [151104 MMDigest]. I was at Cornell from 1965
to 1975. As far as I know, there were never any Ampico rolls in
the music library at Cornell. I'm not sure where that information
would have come from.
There were Duo-Art organ rolls in the Law School library, which got
sold to an unknown (to me) buyer in the 1960s. They came to Cornell
with the Aeolian pipe organ (Opus 1464) donated by Myron Taylor from
his Long Island home. I practiced quite often on that organ during
my years at Cornell. The organ itself got sold in the 1970s to the
local organ builder.
In 1966 I discovered a collection of classical Duo-Art piano rolls
in the Cornell music library card catalog. Presumably they were used
in the teaching program back when they were current. Any Duo-Art piano
on which to play them was long gone by the time I got to Cornell.
To make a long story very short, I made a donation to the Aeolian
Skinner pipe organ in Sage Chapel in return for the Duo-Art rolls after
I left Cornell to live in Colorado. I enjoy them often on my 1929
Steinway AR Duo-Art.
The rolls had been stored in the attic of the music building under
dreadful conditions (no climate control) for many years, which
contributed to their deteriorating condition.
The music program at Cornell is rather focused on early music, so
there was no academic or historic interest in the performances on the
rolls and certainly no way for the merely curious to hear them.
I agree that making gifts of treasured items to universities and
museums must be done with great discussion about whether the items
fit into the academic or program mission of the institution. Most
institutions will tell you that they have a de-accession policy for
their collection items unless you donate enough money to catalog the
items, build a new wing to house and display them, hire a curator
and endow the restoration and conservation.
I presume that's what happened with the Murtogh Guinness Collection
at the Morris Museum -- a partially successful donation outcome.
I say 'partially' because it saddened me to see so many fine musical
items on display behind plastic enclosures that could only be opened
with tools. Clearly they are not played but are there just for visual
But I am glad that other instruments at the museum just have locked
doors and are demonstrated for the public on a frequent basis.