The Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 19, 1999
Apr. 19, 1999
VOL. 28, NO. 31


Lester S. Levy, Sheet Music Collection Celebrated in Exhibit

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

"The Lester S. Levy--Music Man" exhibit celebrating Lester Levy, his life, family, work and his contributions to the city of Baltimore is on view at the George Peabody Library through July 31.

In 1976 Levy donated his collection of more than 29,000 pieces of vintage sheet music to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library. Today scholars, researchers and others with an interest in vintage popular music use the collection, which is housed in the Department of Special Collections and accessible through the World Wide Web.

This was Levy's greatest wish for his collection. "The principal fun of a collection is to share it, and to meet the people whose interests dovetail with one's own," he wrote. "My collection today has many of the aspects of a public library."

During Levy's years as a collector of sheet music, he came in contact with some of the great musical figures of the century. Correspondence and copies of autographed music from Arthur Fiedler, Irving Berlin, Beverly Sills, Richard Rodgers and Ira Gershwin are featured. In addition, the exhibit offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of sheet music collecting. One case documents the unusual story behind Levy's acquisition of the most valuable item in his collection, a first edition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Only 10 known copies of this edition are extant; the Levy copy will be exhibited.

Included in the exhibit is a display highlighting the achievements of the Levy family, beginning with the establishment of the family's straw-hat manufacturing business. An original M.S. Levy and Sons Company hat dating from the early part of the century will be on display.

The George Peabody Library, located at 17 E. Mount Vernon Place, is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 3.