Student Brian Eisenberg Helps with Pilot Project for the Library of Congress Music Division

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San José State University School of Information student Brian Eisenberg spent much of 2009 working on a special project at the Library of Congress that could lay the groundwork for a new practice in digital preservation and publication of original music manuscripts.

Eisenberg worked with the Library of Congress in spring 2009 and summer 2009, handling original manuscripts by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Elliot Carter. Carter recently donated all of his handwritten scores and gave the Library permission to use them in whatever way it wanted.

The Library of Congress is using Carter’s work for a pilot project that will involve an online educational presentation of Carter’s music in the Library’s Performing Arts Encyclopedia. The sketches are digitized as images and will be placed on the Library’s website for viewing, along with recordings generated by Sibelius Notation Software that will allow researchers and scholars to hear each example. The use of Sibelius Notation Software avoids copyright issues and potentially saves the Library hundreds of thousands of dollars, because Carter already gave his permission and the recording is generated by “virtual instruments” rather than live musicians who would be paid royalties.

Eisenberg focused on sketches for Carter’s Cello Sonata, tracing the development of Carter’s long melodic line throughout his drafts and into the completed work. Eisenberg transcribed specific passages into the digital format using Sibelius.

The project allowed Eisenberg, a professional musical composer, arranger and publisher who is transitioning into librarianship, “to spend time in the music division in the largest library in the world, merging my existing professional identify with my emerging one,” he said. “I also learned a lot about the music division and the Library of Congress in general, including the different ways priceless archival collections can be made available to people all over the world online,” said Eisenberg, who earned graduate and undergraduate degrees in music from San Diego State University. He currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Eisenberg, who expects to graduate in spring 2010 with his MLIS degree, will receive a by-line on the Library of Congress website for his efforts – as well as the chance “to make a good impression at the place I would like to someday be employed.”