The Musical Musings of Lawrence Clark Powell

November 13th, 2013 § 0 comments

I formed the conviction then, which has never left me, that of all man’s creations music is the most nearly divine.—L.C. Powell

Lawrence Clark Powell (b. 1906 d. 2001) was the University Librarian at UCLA from 1944-1961, and while he is mainly recognized for his expertises in Library & Information Science[1], his personal interests varied. Namely, Powell was a devoted music enthusiast whose passion for the Classical period (ca. 1750-1820) greatly influenced his written works and personal research.

Revisiting Powell’s Thoughts on Music

I came across UCLA’s copy of The bookman’s progress while shelve surfing for research materials for my music librarianship class. After purusing the list of contents, I added Powell’s book to my stack. After reading the first three chapters, it was clear to me why Special Collections made the assessment that Powell was fascinated with the life and works of W.A. Mozart (Tribute to Powell, 2002). Chapter three, “Musical blood brothers,” details Powell’s trip to Salzburg. It’s as though Powell’s attempting to write a travel diary/bibliographic entry that allows him to pay omage to Mozart’s genius.

“The reason why among all the musicians who have lived there has been only one Mozart is the same reason a bank vault can’t be opened by random dialing, except under the most fantastic odds,” (Powell, 1968).

While the entirety of the chapter isn’t as flowery as this passage, we do get the sense that Powell was fascinated with the works of Mozart, and that he was compelled from the perspective of a librarian to explore Mozart’s career in terms of bibliographic entry, not merely aesthetics.

“What I have been doing is searching the literature, old and new for evidence which reveals Mozart in those triumphant moments…[I have been through] the latest bibliography…From living with these books during the past ten years, I have come to know Mozart better than any other historical figure…No other composer had such genius in so many forms…No other composer has ever been so universally adored by other musicians,” (Powell, 1968).

This piece gave me a new prospective of Powell; no longer do I only see him as a pinnacle in academic librarianship, an Olympus figure among librarians. Next stop on my woks by Powell list,  Susanna’s secret, or The lost Mozart letters. For a list of more musical writings by Powell and where to find out more about his career in general, please see below.

Until next time…

Joy–Music Library Intern

Selected Writings on Music by Powell[2]

Powell, L.C. (1968). Music into silence. Bookman’s progress: The selected               writings of Lawrence Clark Powell. Laguna Beach, CA: The Ward Ritchie                 Press.

Call Number: Z720.P87b

_________ (1968). The way it sounds. Bookman’s progress: The selected               writings of Lawrence  Clark Powell. Laguna Beach, CA: The Ward                               Ritchie Press.

Call Number: Z720.P87b

_________ (1968). Musical blood brothers. Bookman’s progress: The selected writings of  Lawrence Clark Powell. Laguna Beach, CA: The Ward                           Ritchie Press.

Call Number: Z720.P87b

_________ (1981). Susanna’s secret, or The lost Mozart letters. Tuscun, AZ :       Press of the Mesquite Harpschord.

Call Number: PS3531.P8713su

Powell, L.C. (Compiler) (1983). My Haydn commonplace book. Tucson,                   L.C.Powell.

SRLF Barcode: G0000337329

__________________ (1980) . My Mozart commonplace book. Tucson, L.C. Powell.

Call Number: ML410.M87 M99

Learn More About L.C. Powell

Myrna Oliver, “Lawrence Clark Powell; Lifted UCLA Library to Prominence,” Los Angeles Times (March 20, 2001). Retrieved from                                                   

UCLA Special Collections (2002). A tribute to Lawrence Clark Powell, 1906-       2001. Retrieved  from                                                                                                         

_____________________ . Lawrence Clark Powell papers, 1914-2001.                   Retrieved from                                                                                                                                query=lawrence+clark+powell+.

USC Libraries Special Collections (2010). Powell (Lawrence Clark                         collection)1937-1990.  Retrieved from                                                                                                                query=lawrence+clark+powell+.

Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia (2013). Lawrence Clark Powell. Retrieved         from

[1] Powell was responsible for coordinating the Library & Information Science programs both at UCLA and the University of Arizona.

[2] All listed items are part of the UCLA Library collection.

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