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New Head of the Stanford Music Library and Archive of Recorded Sound

Jul 14 2021

The Stanford Music Library has a new Head Librarian, Tamar Barzel. Tamar arrived at Stanford on July 1 after having spent the last three years as Assistant Research Scholar at New York University Libraries, where she developed the music holdings in the Downtown Collection. Prior to arriving at NYU, Tamar was on the music faculty at Wellesley College, where she directed the ethnomusicology program and taught courses in jazz, popular music, and field methods.

Tamar is an accomplished scholar. Her work in the NYU archives flowed out of her dissertation project and her book New York Noise: Radical Jewish Music and the Downtown Scene (Indiana University Press, 2015). The larger NYU collection on which she worked, The Downtown Collection (est. 1994), focuses on the arts and culture of New York’s downtown scene from the late 1960s to the early 2000s. When Tamar came on board, the Downtown Collection was strong in theater, writing, visual art, and AIDS activism, but it did not have good documentation of the explosive creativity of the downtown music scene, which had included punk rock and “No Wave,” avant-garde jazz, conducted improvisation, and experimentalist classical (score-based) composition. Tamar collaborated with the head of NYU’s music library and the special collections team to develop the music holdings, adding about twenty collections of artists’ papers.

“Before Wellesley, NYU, ethnomusicology, archives, and the jazz avant-garde, I was a classical pianist. I didn’t have much technique, but I was in love with the music, and I still am. I’m thrilled to have arrived at Stanford, where I will be able to support research into the music of all times and places while finding new directions in which to develop the world-class collections of the Music Library and Archive of Recorded Sound.” — Tamar Barzel