Monday, September 14, 2015

Megan's Mystery Monday - Josef Lhevinne

Hello fellow history lovers! My name is Megan Stoffer, the History Center’s NAII intern, and I have been tasked with writing these blog entries for your reading pleasure. To begin this hopefully exciting relationship, let me introduce myself a bit.

I’m a senior at IPFW working towards earning my degree in history. I enjoy reading, writing, and collecting comic books when I’m not doing school work (though I’m usually always doing school work). I love history and hope to go into museum studies once I complete my undergraduate schooling. 

It’s a pleasure to meet you, now let’s get on to the fun stuff. 

As an intern, I’m privy to a lot of really cool behind the scenes things here at the History Center. I get to work with some pretty awesome people, handle a lot of really awesome artifacts not on display, and, more often than not, get to discover pieces that have been hiding in storage for decades. These mystery pieces, as I like to call them, sometimes range from artifacts that have gone missing from their original locations to pieces with no accession number (the little number coding system we use for cataloging artifacts) or written information regarding the acquisition or history of the piece. Sometimes my job involves a little bit of detective work as I research an object and try to learn the history behind it so as to better record the past for future use. 

This blog is going to be centered on my experiences as a detective/intern. I want to share with you the interesting things I find, the work I do when handling artifacts, and the many things I learn from the awesome staff here at the History Center. My main job here is cataloging the Center’s fine arts collection, which means I handle a lot of artwork and prints. I’ve found some really great pieces that I want to share with everyone and this blog is how I’m going to do it.

Such as this beautiful print, accession number 83.31.191 B. 

This is a print I found my first week on the job. When preparing an object for cataloging, the first thing you do is check for details that could aid in description and identification. This print has writing on it, similar to that of an autograph. “To Mr. Harry A. Achenbach” is pretty easily made out, but the signature itself gave me some trouble. Josef ??? The fancy script made the last name look like it began with an ‘Lh’ but that didn’t give me any help in coming up with a last name, at least not a common American one. 

What’s an intern to do?

Consult the written donation records! Inside the filing cabinet I was able to locate the original donation card that included the name of our mystery autographer, one Josef Lhevinne. Upon further research I learned that Mr. Lhevinne was a very famous Russian pianist who moved to New York City in 1919 and taught at the Julliard Graduate School of Music, the dates coinciding with the date on the autograph, January 1924.[1] This helped me to flesh out a formerly empty database article with helpful information on Mr. Lhevinne and his exciting career. 

Listen to a recording of him performing Chopin's Etude in G# Minor here.

Though only a small mystery, this artifact has stuck with me as one of my favorites so far. I had a lot of fun researching Mr. Lhevinne and his contributions to early 20th century music and I hope to share more of my adventures in Collections over the semester! Until next time!


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