Press Release

February 19, 2015
Contact: Katherine E. Johnson
(212) 875-5718;


FOURTH RELEASE of Material in a Multi-Year Project

13,300 Printed Concert Programs from 1842–Present Now Available;
Current Programs To Be Posted Online Every Concert Week

New York Philharmonic Becomes the First Major Symphony Orchestra To
Provide Open Access to Its Performance History Data
for Research and Application Development

Performance History Search Now Linked with Digital Archives

The fourth release of material in the New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives — the multiyear initiative to digitize the Orchestra's extensive archives, funded by the Leon Levy Foundation — has been completed, with all existing Philharmonic printed programs, from the first concert in 1842 to the present, now available online, and current printed programs being added every concert week. The New York Philharmonic has also now become the first major symphony orchestra to provide open access to its performance history data. This unprecedented open access will be a resource for scholars, developers, and the public, allowing for new forms of research and application development utilizing the Philharmonic's performance history — the longest running collection of data on classical music in the United States. In addition, the Philharmonic's online Performance History Search has been enhanced and linked with printed programs in the Digital Archives to provide immediate access to the physical item when searching for a performance. The New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives are available at

Free access to an additional 170,000 pages of materials is now available online. This includes 10,000 printed programs that have been added, yielding a total of 13,300 programs from the Orchestra's founding, in 1842, to the present. Among the printed programs newly available are those from the 1865 memorial concert for Abraham Lincoln; the 1893 World Premiere of Dvorák's Symphony No. 9, From the New World; the 1928 World Premiere of Gershwin's An American in Paris, with program notes by the composer; the concert that took place on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day; for the free downtown chamber concerts given after 9/11 for those working near the ruins of the World Trade Center; and from the Philharmonic's national and international tours, including Toscanini's 1930 European Tour and the 2008 tour to Pyongyang, D.P.R.K., led by then Music Director Lorin Maazel.

Modeled after efforts in the museum world, particularly those of the Cooper-Hewitt and the Tate Modern, the Philharmonic will be the first major symphony orchestra to join the open data movement with its long-running performance history. The underlying dataset will be made available on Github, a common tool for open source collaboration, under the Creative Commons Public Domain license. This will make once-proprietary data freely available to users, who are then able to manipulate and reuse the data for purposes ranging from scholarship to artwork to the creation of new apps. In addition, the Philharmonic Archives has added a Zotero interface to the site, which automatically generates authorized citations for scholarly use, thereby facilitating wider use of the Philharmonic Archives in books, dissertations, and other scholarly materials.

The Philharmonic's Performance History Search has also been enhanced, through the expertise of Technical Services Group (TSG), to allow searches of all facets of concerts which are part of the Orchestra's history. Containing information on approximately 20,000 concerts, the dataset goes back to the founding of the New York Philharmonic and also includes performances by ensembles that subsequently merged with the Orchestra, including the New York Symphony (1878–1928) and the New/National Symphony (1919–21), as well as the Stadium Concerts, which served as the Philharmonic's summer home, 1922–64. The search fields — which include date, location, composer/work, conductor, and soloist — now link directly with the related digitized printed programs in the Digital Archives.

Also now available in the Digital Archives is the Philharmonic subscriber database, which was developed by a team of Columbia University sociologists, headed by Dr. Shamus Khan with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This database contains the names, addresses, and seat locations for Philharmonic subscribers dating back to the 19th century. Under Dr. Khan's leadership the team will analyze the relationship between the audience members' seat locations, on specific concert dates in various concert halls and where they lived. (To protect privacy, post-1953 subscriber names will not be searchable.) The resulting subscriber database, which will be maintained by the Philharmonic Archives and consists of 554,000 records dating back to the 19th century, will be available through the Leon Levy Digital Archives.

"The Archives receives so many requests for printed programs and performance history reports, that it seemed like an obvious choice to digitize the entire collection of programs and link them to the Performance history database," said New York Philharmonic Archivist / Historian Barbara Haws. "The New York Philharmonic has performed more concerts than any other symphony orchestra in the world, as confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records, so this collection of programs and our concert database is the largest in the world. Beyond their value as a record of our performance history, the programs — which include notes, libretti, artist biographies, and even advertisements — can evoke a time that is long gone. This release not only allows access to the performances themselves, but provides insights into social mores as well as a cultural context for historical events, ranging from the mundane to the momentous."

"The New York Philharmonic has long been recognized worldwide as a pre-eminent artistic resource, through both our concerts and educational programs," said President Matthew VanBesien. "The evolution of the Leon Levy Digital Archives — especially the current update, which openly shares our incomparable databases — underscores the Philharmonic's larger potential for music and history scholars, musicians, and the public to better understand the ways in which art and culture both reflect and transform society. Thanks to the generosity and steadfast support of the Leon Levy Foundation, this project has made it possible for tens of thousands of music lovers and researchers around the world now have unprecedented access to our unparalleled history."

About the New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

The New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives was launched in February 2011, and currently comprises more than 1.3 million pages, including 3,236 printed programs, marked conducting scores, business documents, and photographs. When completed, the online collection will contain every document in the New York Philharmonic Archives from 1842 through 1970, more than 3 million pages — including correspondence, marked scores and parts, contracts, and minutes from meetings of the Board of Directors — as well as all public documents from 1970 through today, including marketing materials, press releases, and annual reports.

Since its launch Digital Archives, available online at, has generated more than 400,000 unique visitors from more than 175 countries, resulting in 2,800,000 page views, with usage growing more than five-fold from the launch, achieving an average of 5,500 hits per week. Of those 400,000 unique visitors, 75,000 researchers have returned to the site ten or more times; of those, 12,000 individuals have used the New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives more than 200 times. This magnitude of research would not be possible without the digital availability of the material, as there would be no way to physically accommodate so many interested researchers.

Current material available in the Digital Archives includes:

  • 1,767 scores marked by Leonard Bernstein, Andre Kostelanetz, and others
  • 16,018 music parts marked by Philharmonic musicians
  • 13,311 printed programs
  • 4,079 business and planning folders
  • 16,375 photographs and images

All documents and the photographs themselves have been photographed — not scanned — by Ardon Bar Hama and his team using innovative and advanced techniques to achieve the highest quality. The images are managed in Alfresco, an open-source digital asset management system configured by a team of developers led by Ray Wijangco of Technology Services Group (TSG) in coordination with the Philharmonic's Digital Archives team headed by Digital Archivist/Project Manager Mitchell Brodsky.

The New York Philharmonic Archives, the oldest and most comprehensive collection of any symphony orchestra, contains approximately six million pages that date back to its founding in 1842, with holdings that include correspondence, business records, orchestral scores and parts, photographs, concert programs, and newspaper clippings, as well as concert and broadcast recordings dating from the 1920s.