Past Program Books
H+H maintains an archive of more than 1,000 concert program books going back more than 200 years. This archive, totaling 30,000 pages of historical material, is a treasure trove of both musical and social history in America, unmatched by any other arts organization in the country. And now, with the help of our good friends at Boston Public Library and Digital Commonwealth, the story this collection tells, from July 1818 through April 2016, is available to the public for the very first time at handelandhaydn.access.preservica.com.
Some of the biggest names in American music history appear on these pages, as well as important historic milestones. Here you can see the American premieres of Verdi’s Requiem and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and the memorial services for President Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. You can also see the ways H+H has changed over time, first from a small amateur choral group to a huge choir of 600 or more, then to a streamlined professional orchestra and chorus producing the highest-quality historically informed performances. You can watch the rise and fall in popularity of different composers, styles of music, and even the way programs are structured. There’s even a period in the 1970s to early 2000s where H+H sometimes paired Baroque and Classical with contemporary music and jazz.
These digitized programs are just one of the many collections H+H holds. We also have membership rolls and photographs from the 19th century, early financial ledgers, scrapbooks of reviews, records of our past Gala celebrations, historical recordings and videos of concerts and rehearsals, and scores and other music publications from the 19th century.
Curious to learn more? Contact the archivist at archivist@ handelandhaydn.org!