April 2, 2013

Drexel's Cabinet of Curiosities

I had just gotten off the elevator at the research division of the New York Public Library of the Performing Arts, and ran smack into Joseph William Drexel. He was standing next to the water fountain.

What are you doing here today?

I'm trying to locate a long dead voice teacher, and thought I would start with the Biographical Card Index. That Ok with you? 

Excellent choice. You know where it is.

He looked towards the elevators as I went through the glass double doors, coursed my way past the music division desk (which is, I am sorry to say, sorely understaffed these days) and back to his Cabinet of Curiosities.

Imagine a time when industrious librarians snipped articles out of newspapers and recorded the contexts of every musical publication onto index cards. Stuff you won't find on the internet, it's a veritable gold mine. Here is one on Manuel García.

I found what I was looking for, which sent me to the main desk where I put in a request. Fifteen minutes later, I was staring at a photograph of my sought after famous voice teacher, which, from the look of it, had not seen the light of day since it was placed in its folder. I made a point to thank Mr. Drexel on the way out. 

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