Music Library Special Collections

Photo of Students in Music Library
Music Library Special Collections

Rokahr Family Archive

The Rokahr Family Archive, donated to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by Jack Rokahr, houses an eclectic collection of over 4,500 scores of operas, operettas, and musicals dating from 1764 to current issues. All major opera composers from this period, and many minor ones, are represented in the collection.

The archive includes:

  • A major collection of French and Italian composers, with the complete works of Auber, Audran, Bruneau, Hervé, Leoncavallo, Mascagni, Massenet, Messager, Offenbach, Puccini, Respighi, Varney, Verdi, and Zandonai, as a few examples
  • A major section of 19th and 20th century German and Austrian composers
  • A fine collection of 18th century full scores by Grétry, Gluck, Monsigny, Philidor, Piccini, Rousseau, and Sacchini, many of which are first or early editions
  • Scores from Danish, Polish, Brazilian, Czech, Swedish, Finnish, American, English and other composers
  • A significant section containing librettos and French livrets, including several volumes of the works of Eugène Scribe
  • French opera posters of Cheret and Chaix from the 1860s through the 1880s
  • A major collection of André Gill caricatures of theater and musical personalities of Paris of the 1860s and 1870s
  • LP opera recordings from 1950 to 1985, as well as CDs, videocassettes, and tape recordings of live opera performances

Ruth Etting

Ruth Etting (1897-1978), a native of David City, NE, left Nebraska for Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles to become a "torch singer", recording artist, Ziegfeld girl, and movie star. The archives contain videorecordings, sheet music, recordings (LP's, cassette tapes, and reel-to-reel tapes), photographs, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, scrapbooks, and correspondence which chronicle her career in the 1920's and 30's. More information about Ruth Etting is available through the following resources.


Carlton & Territa A. Lowenberg Collection on Emily Dickinson and Music

The Music Library houses a portion of the Carlton Lowenberg Collection which includes musical settings of Emily Dickinson's poetry and related documents. Records of scores are cataloged under Carlton Lowenberg Collection in the University Libraries' catalog.


Berman Music Foundation

The Berman Music Foundation collection consists of thousands of CDs, LPs and DVDs of jazz and rock music. The collection was created by Lincoln musician Byron L. “Butch” Berman over his lifetime and was part of the Berman Music Foundation, which he established in 1995. Berman died in 2008 at the age of 58. The collection was donated to the Music Library in 2012.


George "Pee Wee" Erwin

George "Pee Wee" Erwin (1913-1981), born in Falls City, NE, was a prominent trumpeter in the 1930's and 40's playing with such men as Joe Haymes (1931-3), Isham Jones (1933-4), and Tommy Dorsey (1937-9). The collection housed in the music library consists mainly of jazz charts and reel-to-reel and cassette tape recordings made throughout his career. Some tapes have been digitized and preserved; they are cataloged under the Pee Wee Erwin Collection in the University Libraries' catalog.

George "Pee Wee" Erwin catalog search results

Belkin Collection

This non-circulating collection is named for the late Herbert A. Belkin, a music attorney and executive of Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL or MoFi). Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab is a re-issue record label known for its innovative production of audiophile-quality sound recordings – namely Super Audio Compact Discs (SACD) and half-speed mastered Super Vinyls. MFSL opened its doors in the late 1950’s and filed bankruptcy in 1999.

The collection, housed in the Music Library, is an archive of the definitive classical, rock, and jazz recordings produced by MFSL. It includes close to 500 compact discs and over 200 vinyl LPs, all of which were created by first-generation analog master recordings (known as ‘Original Master Recordings’). Beyond the commercial recordings, the Music Library houses about 200 test pressings for many of these albums. In addition, the collection includes several boxes of business documents from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab.


Judith and Norman Zlotsky Sheet Music Collection

The Zlotsky Collection consists of 12 bound volumes of sheet music, including piano music, dance music for piano, and songs. Most of the music was published in the 1850s and 1860s in the United States and England, and it was bound by private owners at that time. There are many examples of title pages illustrated with lithographs, some of which are colored. Sheet music was one of the earliest formats that used lithography, and the collection illustrates the early history of lithography, from black and white, to single color, to four-color printing. Judith Zlotsky was a print collector, and collected these volumes for the interest of their prints.


Wilbur Chenoweth

Wilbur Chenoweth (1899-1980), American composer and a Nebraska native, was born in Tecumseh, NE on June 4, 1899. He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and taught in the School of Music from 1925 to 1938. While at the School of Music he was professor of piano, organ and theory, and was also choirmaster and organist at First Plymouth Church. Chenoweth wrote the Nebraska fight song, Hail Varsity. He moved to Santa Monica, CA in 1938 and was professor at Occidental College from 1938 to 1945. He was also organist and choirmaster at the Neighborhood Church in Pasadena. In 1990 the Chenoweth scholarship was established at University of Nebraska-Lincoln for studies in theory and composition. The Music Library has a collection of his compositions and a few cassette tapes of his works.

Wilbur Chenoweth finding aid

Willard Kimball

Willard Kimball (1854-1939) was the founder of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln School of Music and its first director (1894-1909). Kimball's papers, books, scrapbooks, and personal effects are housed in the Music Library. Of special interest are papers pertaining to Kimball's involvement in the formation of the School of Music as a private institution and then his activities in support of its subsequent purchase and annexation to the University of Nebraska.

Willard Kimball finding aid

Audun Ravnan

Audun J. Ravnan, (1925-2009), was born in Norway. He came to the United States on an international scholarship in 1947 and became a nationalized citizen in 1956. The next year he joined the piano staff of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, where he served as chair of the piano faculty and became the George Holmes Distinguished Professor of Music. He became a Professor Emeritus in 1993 when he retired from active teaching.

During his illustrious career he was recognized with the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award, The Mayor’s Arts Award from the City of Lincoln, and in 1981 became the first individual artist to receive The Governor’s Arts Award, Nebraska’s most prestigious honor in the arts, “for significant contributions to the cultural life of Nebraska”.

In 2012 his wife and daughters donated to the University these recordings and programs from a number of his performances.

search for Audun Ravnan: Performances from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Glenn Korff School of Music

John Mahard Rosborough

The papers, books, and personal effects of John M. Rosborough (1878-1969), head of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln School of Music Theory Department (1910-1919) and then Dean of the School of Music (1919-1929), have been donated to the Music Library. While on the faculty of the School of Music, John Rosborough organized a choral group known as the "Great Cathedral Choir," which toured extensively during the thirties and attained a national reputation for its excellence. Much of the collection is concerned with the choir, its members, and its repertoire. The papers and books of John Rosborough represent a large segment of the history of Lincoln's and the University's musical life. Two items in Rosborough's personal library which were donated to the Music Library and are of particular interest are a copy of Jean Philippe Rameau's Traite de l'harmonie (Paris, 1722) and Vincenzio Panerai's Principii di musica (Firenze, ca. 1800). These are now shelved in the Rokahr Family Archive.

Rosborough finding aid

Emanuel Wishnow

Emanuel Wishnow (1910-1994) joined the faculty at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1933 as a violin instructor and in 1941 became the conductor of the University Symphony. He served as the director of the School of Music (1958-1972), when he oversaw the development of Westbrook Music Building and Kimball Recital Hall. He retired in 1975. The Music Library has a collection of papers, photographs, and memorabilia from his estate, including class notes and other information regarding his activities while at the University. The collection was donated in 2010.