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BW's Riemenschneider Bach Institute turns 50

RBI Scholar-in-Residence Dr. Danielle Kuntz discusses an exhibit with a student during a RBI open house.A musical treasure trove on the campus of Baldwin Wallace University turns 50 this year and BW's Conservatory of Music is planning a series of events to draw attention to and grow the impact of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute (RBI).

The RBI houses such rare items as manuscripts in the hand of Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms' own rehearsal score of his "A German Requiem," a set of partbooks for Renaissance motets and Jerome Robbins' personal script for "Gypsy."

Celebrating Bach Connections

RBI 50th Anniversary logoThe 2019-20 golden anniversary celebration, which marks the Institute's founding in 1969 and the launch of "BACH: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute" a year later, includes lectures and concerts on the theme "Bach & ..." which connect Bach to another strand of music history.

The October 4 kickoff, "Bach & Beyond," features BW's Symphonic Wind Ensemble playing both Bach and cutting-edge music of today.

"Other events will connect Bach to music of the world, to his predecessors, to his admirers in the Romantic period, to innovative research in computer science and music, and more," explains Dr. Christina Fuhrmann, editor of the Bach journal.

"Each event will highlight the RBI's holdings," Fuhrmann continues, "including our 50-plus editions of Bach's 'Well-Tempered Clavier,' Robert and Clara Schumann's collection of Bach's works with their own annotations and our signed copy of César Franck's violin sonata."

BW Bach Festival bannerThe festivities will culminate with BW's 88th annual Bach Festival. The 2020 edition of the nation's oldest collegiate Bach festival will include a performance of Bach's Cantata No. 174, showcasing one of the RBI's prized possessions: parts of the composition written in Bach's own hand. The Festival will also offer the world premiere of a Bach-inspired composition by the winner of the RBI 50 Commission Contest: Dr. James Primosch.

Deeper roots, greater future potential

Among the RBI's priceless treasures: a page from Bach’s Cantata No. 2 written in the composer’s own hand. While the RBI is turning 50, the roots of the collection can be traced back to 1898 and the founding of BW's Conservatory of Music by student Albert Riemenschneider. He and his wife, Selma (Marting), the first female Conservatory graduate, began a personal collection of rare items that they eventually donated to BW to establish the RBI.

The anniversary celebration includes a fundraising campaign that will support music scholarship. A generous anonymous donation and a bequest from the estate of Dorinda Hawk '58 have already launched an ambitious expansion of the RBI Scholars program, but the Institute is brimming with additional untapped potential.

"Our goal is to grow our collection of rare items; expand access to this collection with more resources for digitization, cataloging and displaying our items; and host more lectures and concerts that bring our collections to life," said Fuhrmann.

"We have a wealth of resources in the RBI that we want to share - everything from Bach to American hymnody, Beethoven symphonies, musical theatre, and much more," added BW Conservatory of Music Dean Susan Van Vorst. "We invite our friends and music patrons to help us reimagine and reinvigorate the RBI for the next 50 years."

Visit the RBI

The RBI welcomes visitors. Contact BW Conservatory librarian Paul Cary at (440) 826-8074 or to schedule a tour, start a research project or schedule a class visit.

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