Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dorothy Starr: San Francisco’s First Lady of Sheet Music

The Art, Music & Recreation Center is exhibiting images of sheet music from the Dorothy Starr Sheet Music Collection through December 6, 2008. Dorothy Starr (1908-1990) was the beloved proprietress of the Music Stand, a used music store on Hayes Street. The Friends of Dorothy Starr in cooperation with the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library acquired the stock of Dorothy Starr’s store in order to continue to make the music available to the musicians of San Francisco.

The Library has created a separate database for the Dorothy Starr Sheet Music Collection containing more than 30,000 catalog records. This database indexes vocal sheet music of all varieties, including Tin Pan Alley songs, showtunes, popular songs of all eras, folksongs, art songs, operatic arias and choral music.

The Dorothy Starr Sheet Music Collection is a special collection of the Library – all of the songs are carefully preserved and protected. Because much of the music is fragile, we prefer that musicians use our extensive songbook collection before consulting this collection. Nevertheless, we do make the music available to musicians when all are resources are exhausted.

The current exhibit is located in three wall cases on the Main Library’s Fourth Floor. The first case contains images of sheet music about or published in San Francisco. The second case presents cover images from the “golden age” of sheet music during the first half of the twentieth century. The third case presents covers from pop and rock era of the 1960s and 1970s.
The Library’s webpage has more information about Dorothy Starr and the Dorothy Starr Sheet Music Collection as well as the database for this collection.

A Duke Ellington medley from the Dorothy Starr Collection

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