Friday, December 10, 2010

NY Philharmonic Archives: a Tribute

Soooooooo. What has two thumbs and just got laid off for the third December in a row?

Sigh. They just simply ran out of work for us to do on the digitization project. It didn't pay much, but I really enjoyed the job, the people and even to an extent, the routine. Some of the work could be very dry, but there were great moments that couldn't come with any other job. I came across some quite entertaining letters between orchestra members, concert goers and staff, controversial ones and some that were compelling simply as a historical testimony. Like the pre-World War II letter from an orchestra board member who had been in Germany in 1933, praising Adolph Hitler for "restoring hope" to that country. The countless letters of either praise or consternation against conductors for playing modern music. Even the complaints written because of the new air conditioning system in Avery Fisher Hall, and the poor old biddies who caught cold because of it. It was always a thrill holding actual music scores with Leonard Bernstein's own handwritten notes, or in some cases, poems or lewd illustrations. For weeks on end, myself and my much younger colleagues would burst into giggles when we found documents written by or for the 1960s Promenade catering coordinator, who rejoiced in the name Thadius G. Crapster. Sometimes he was just Thad. Or T.G. But we always knew. Sudden laugher? We'd glance at each other knowingly. "Crapster."

And so, a roundup of some favorite images.

Part of our job was to remove staples and old paper clips from documents as we put them in chronological order in folders to be shot for digitization. We started throwing these into an old vase and collecting them, and it became like a giant, robotic hairball by autumn. By now, the vase is nearly three quarters full! I hope someone thinks to weigh it.

Here's Grayson holding it up in its glory.

Grammys make the perfect paper stop.

I loved coming across vintage ads in orchestra programs.

Ah, the 60s. Smoking is good for you! Yikes.

I thought that was what David Bartons were for?

Drink this and you'll get laid and trip out! Creepy.

 How to visitors guide to communism. Given to orchestra members before a Soviet tour.

I'm sure the routine was positively electric!

Wow, what a time for Broadway! 

And, finally, a photo of a long lost family member. Who knew there was a cousin Earl?

Many thanks to Barbara for being a way cool person of wit and wisdom to work for. And Mitch for his boundless enthusiasm for the slightest technical achievement, patience, and being a really fun person to take to Chilean wine tastings.

I will surely miss it, but the show will go on as it does. Every year.

Seriously? December? Again?

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