You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

Tag: manuscripts (Page 1 of 10)

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.

Thirty Variations in a Student’s Hand: A Manuscript Copy of the Goldberg Variations


Brown, marbled cardboard cover.

Front cover of the Goldberg Variations copyist manuscript held by Harvard Library, Mus 627.1.438.20.

The Music Library recently acquired a manuscript of the Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, in the hand of Bach’s last pupil, the organist, composer, and teacher Johann Christian Kittel (1732-1809). Kittel was born and died in Erfurt, Germany, and also spent time in Leipzig. He copied this manuscript between 1770 and 1790 and included a written homage to Bach, non plus ultra, which translates to nothing further beyond in Latin.

non plus ultra in black ink

Homage to Bach, ‘non plus ultra.’

A later inscription at the foot of title in an unknown hand states, Andenken seines besten Schülers, J. Chr. Kittels, translated, In memory of his best student, J. Chr. Kittel. Manuscript No. 1109 is written on the inside front cover in pencil, manuscript [illegible] 10 is written in blue crayon to back pastedown. The notations are in black ink on 10-stave rastrum-ruled wove, white paper.

In memory of his best student J. Chr. Kittels in black ink

A later inscription includes ‘Andenken seines besten Schülers, J. Chr. Kittels’

Given its name from the German harpsichordist and organist Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, the piece consists of an aria and 30 variations. The final variation is a quodlibet consisting of lighthearted melodies based on German folksongs, most likely intended to be humorous. It is thought that the first printed edition in 1741 of the Goldberg Variations consisted of approximately 100 copies; of these, only 19 are known to have survived to this day. A number of manuscript copies based on the printed edition (also known as copyist manuscripts) were made after Bach’s death in 1750. Copyist manuscripts of music are reproductions made by someone other than the composer and were often created by students who created these copies for their own study. Kittel is known to have made two such copies of this work, one in ca. 1750-60 and the present copy dating from ca. 1770 or later, which appears to have been made from his own first copy.

Arguably one of the most interesting elements of the manuscript is its provenance, which includes where the score originated, its lineage, and how it has been cared for. The complete ownership, without any gaps, is known for this manuscript consequently contributing to its value.

Early 19th century Bach manuscript collector and first to attempt a catalog of Bach’s works; Director of the Munich Conservatory from 1846-1864.

Private collector of music manuscripts in Berlin; listed in June 1929 in the auction catalog Wolffheim II (catalog number 1109) by Breslauer-Leipmanssohn.

Purchased from Wolffheim auction.

Received as a gift from father-in-law Adolf Busch; placed it on long-term loan (1975-1991) with Houghton Library at Harvard.

Rudolf’s son; the manuscript was sold after his death.

For additional information on the importance of the manuscript, take a look at this video by musicologist and J.S. Bach scholar Christoph Wolff. This video was originally created for a reception held at the Loeb Music Library showcasing the purchase of this manuscript.


Bach, Johann Sebastian, and Johann Christian Kittel. 1770. Vierter Theil Der Clavier-Uebung Bestehend in Einer Aria Mit Verschiedenen Veränderungen: Vors Clavicimbal Mit Zweÿ Manualen. Erfurt].

Hauser, Franz. 1860. Johann Sebastian Bach’s Saemtliche Werke : thematisch verzeichnet mit Ausgabe der bisher im Druck erschienenen und ihrer Verleger, der Besitzer der Autografa und gleichzeitiger Abschriften. 1860.

Herz, Gerhard. 1983. Bach Sources in America. New York: American Choral Foundation, 241-245.

« Older posts

© 2023 Loeb Music Library

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑