Music for Early Film at the Ransom Center
The Harry Ransom Center is home to more than 27,000 pieces of music for early film, meant to be played as live accompaniment in the cinema, and a large number of other resources that document the transition of Texas vaudeville houses to motion picture theaters in the 1900s and 1910s. These materials include handwritten cue sheets, notes made by cinema performers, photographs, pay stubs and other ephemera that help tell the stories of the musicians who accompanied moving pictures in Texas. I’ll discuss these resources and their status in the Ransom Center, and present information on how accompanists created scores for films in the 1910s and 1920s for Austin and other area movie palaces using music from the vaudeville stage, “legitimate” theater, music magazines, and music newly composed for use in the cinema.
This lecture is presented by the UT Austin Musicology & Ethnomusicology Division and the Association of Graduate Musicology/Ethnomusicology Students.
Kendra Preston Leonard is a musicologist and music theorist whose work focuses on women and music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; and music and screen history, particularly music and adaptations of Shakespeare. Her work has appeared in The Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies, Gender and Song in Early Modern England, This Rough Magic, Upstart Crow, Early Modern Studies Journal, The Journal of Historical Biography, The Journal of Musicological Research, and Current Musicology, among other journals and collections. She is the winner of many scholarly awards and prizes, including the Rudolph Ganz Fellowship at the Newberry Library, a Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship, an American Music Research Center Fellowship, the inaugural Judith Tick Fellowship from the Society for American Music, and Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Thornton Wilder Fellowship in Wilder Studies, and is a frequent invited speaker at symposia, conferences, and workshops. She is the Director of the Silent Film Sound and Music Archive.
Leonard is the 2016 winner of the American Musicological Society’s Janet Levy Award; the 2016 Society for American Music‘s Sight and Sound subvention for her collaborative project with the Silent Film Sound and Music Archive and pianist Ethan Uslan; a 2016 American Music Research Center Fellowship; and a 2016-2017 Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship in the Humanities. The Silent Film Sound and Music Archive, of which she is the executive director, is the recipient of a 2016 GRAMMY Foundation Preservation grant.