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Category: Isham Memorial Library (Page 1 of 17)

A Collection in Bloom

Marti Epstein (1959-) is an American composer, pianist, and professor originally from Denver, Colorado and a resident of Boston, Massachusetts for most of her professional career. The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library has acquired much of Epstein’s compositions and correspondences, partnering with Epstein to share and preserve her work. 

Portrait of the composer Marti Epstein, who is wearing glasses and smiling.

Portrait of Marti Epstein (Career Girls web site)

Epstein earned her Bachelor of Music in Composition at the University of Colorado (1982) and obtained her Master of Music in Composition (1984) and her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Composition from Boston University (1989). In addition to instructing students in composition at Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory, she composes between three and five pieces a year, usually on commission. Her composition work is often for musical ensembles, including many based in New England and reaching international patrons.

This collection contains 39 scores by Epstein, many of which were completed as commissions, such as Waterbowls, composed in 1989 for Kathleen Supové and commissioned by the New England Chapter of the Music Teachers National Association. 

In addition, included in the collection are Epstein’s youthful works, pieces she composed during her studies. After her high school band teacher suggested she become a composer, she began taking lessons from Professor Robert Beadell at the University of Nebraska. 

Composer's manuscript score.

Marti Epstein, Cereal music. Ms. Coll. 181, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library.

Composer's manuscript score.

Marti Epstein, Viennese waltz. Ms. Coll. 181, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library.

Epstein describes her music as “unrealistic,” and many of her compositions are handwritten on large sheets of music.

Bloom, one of these pieces, is a 2009 composition commissioned for Robert Sheena and the Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble. Prominently featuring English horn, other instruments in the piece include piano, harp, marimba, glockenspiel, vibraphone, and xylophone. The piece is separated into 10 sections, with English horn either at the forefront of the section or supporting other instruments; fast rolled chords throughout the piece represent water. 

Composer's manuscript score.

Marti Epstein, Bloom. Ms. Coll. 181, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library.

The Marti Epstein collection of scores and recordings: approximately 1977- is now available to be scanned or viewed by appointment. To access, click on Request to Copy or Visit in HOLLIS. This collection was processed by Émilie Blondin and Christina Linklater. 

Contributed by Émilie Blondin, Class of 2025, with quotations and information from Career Girls website , Marti Epstein’s website and Wikipedia.

Bel canto and beyond

The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library has recently acquired the personal collection of Italian accompanist, conductor and vocal coach Luigi Ricci (1893-1981): printed scores containing vocal exercises, opera and other large-scale vocal genres, instrumental music and songs, many of them annotated, some heavily, by Ricci and others. Taken as a whole, the collection illustrates the knowledge and taste of an important figure in the opera world of twentieth-century Italy.

A two-page article by Luigi Ricci outlining the opera singing techniques he learned from Giacomo Puccini. Illustrated by a caricature of the composer.

“Ten Commandments of Puccini,” by Luigi Ricci. Opera News (December 17, 1977). Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library Mus 15.17

From an early age, Ricci provided piano accompaniment at voice lessons given by baritone Antonio Cotogni, whose performances of several Verdi operas were supervised by the composer himself. Ricci took careful notes throughout his career, eventually publishing several books in which he communicates the nineteenth-century bel canto traditions passed on to him in his teenage years by Cotogni and, subsequently, by the composers with whom he collaborated as an assistant conductor at the Rome Opera House.

A vocal score of Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi. The cover is printed in black and blue on white wrappers. Across the top of the cover, Luigi Ricci has boldly written his last name in blue crayon

Ms. Coll. 179, Box 12. Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard University

The impact of Luigi Ricci on twentieth-century opera performance is summarized by Renata Scotto in a 2016 Opera News article: ““When I teach, I’m thinking of my own teachers and of the great conductors I learned so much from. They gave to me so much—and I gave to them a lot, I believe. In the beginning, I had a great teacher—Luigi Ricci, who had been a coach at Teatro di Roma and did Butterfly with Puccini. I got directly what Puccini told him. I feel it’s my duty to pass it on to young singers. Ricci spoke a lot about the words. Puccini was very much interested in the interpretation, the passion, the love. ‘Un bel dì’ is not an aria—you tell a vision. Ricci told me, ‘Don’t sing too much—don’t make a big sound. Have a vision of that nave bianca.’”

He is best known today for interpreting Puccini and Verdi, but Ricci’s collection also includes scores, most of them enthusiastically annotated, of scores by Shostakovich, Wagner, Mozart and many others. This 1945 vocal score of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes bears Ricci’s typical traces of ownership:

Two pages of music: a vocal score edition of Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes (1945). Former owner Luigi Ricci has added Italian translation and several expressive notes.

Ms. Coll. 179, Box 14. Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard University.

The Luigi Ricci collection of scores, 1865-1969 was processed by Émilie Blondin and Christina Linklater. The entire collection is now available; click on Request to Copy or Visit to schedule your appointment or arrange for scans.

Contributed by Christina Linklater, Keeper of the Isham Memorial Library and Houghton Music Cataloger.

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