[The New York Philharmonic Digital Archives] – The Archives collections contain material that dates back to the Philharmonic’s first concert in 1842, but the first phase of our digitization begins in the middle of this long history. In deciding where to begin with our digitization project, we held a roundtable discussion that included librarians, historians, musicians, conductors, journalists, and students to evaluate the different time periods in the Philharmonic’s history and to determine what might provide the most unique source material.
The International Era [1943-1970] was selected for several reasons. It is the time when the United States becomes a world power and New York City its cultural capital; when the New York Philharmonic emerges as a worldwide symbol of this new cultural position. In the broader social and civic realm, it is when Government begins funding the arts, when women join the Orchestra, when the Philharmonic opens Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, when the Orchestra musicians win 52-week contracts, when television becomes main stream and the Long Playing record is invented, and it is the time of Leonard Bernstein’s leadership.
It is the time period with the greatest variety of formats for the Digital Archives to test our assumptions about cross-searching; scores, programs, press clippings, business documents, images, film, audio and video. Although the audio and video items are now only a sample, we are developing a long-term strategy for this material to be available in the not-so-distant future.
By 2012 all of the archival material from 1943 through 1970, from the letters of Presidents to the smallest scrap of paper, will be available in the Digital Archives – 1.3 million pages.