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Orchestrations Service

Caroline Zakarian, Librarian, Lifelong Learning Department,
Orchestral music notes

An extremely popular service that the Art, Music and Recreation Department provide that not everyone may know about is orchestral service.  Our orchestral music collection contains scores and parts that are loaned to orchestras and performing groups in Southern California.  The service area includes the following ten counties: Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles, Kern and Imperial. 

The orchestrations collection began 79 years ago upon the death of Montana copper magnate, William Andrews Clark, Jr.  Clark was the first benefactor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and he provided the funds that started and sustained it in its early years.  Clark was also a benefactor of the Los Angeles Public Library’s Art & Music Department and after he passed away his collection of orchestral music was donated to the library.  His gift of 752 works formed the core of the library’s current collection of orchestral scores and parts.

Expansion to the collection came in 1948 with the purchase of the Earl Wilson Music Library.  Then, in 1980 the library received a wonderful grant from the Chevron Oil Corporation for the amount of $75,000 to be used exclusively for the orchestral score collection.  With this generous gift 600 compositions were added to the collection.  Through the years more orchestrations were added.  Currently, the Art Department has about 2,400 individual orchestral pieces with parts and about 6,000 total orchestrations.  With an average of about fifty parts to each work, this figures to about 300,000 pieces of music—a truly great collection.

There are a number of rental collections available to orchestras, but hardly any public collections.  The LAPL collection is one of the only public collections in California.  To our knowledge, it is the largest public orchestral score and parts collection west of the Mississippi. 

Southern California has a wealth of musical talent.  There are many great performers, professional and amateur in this region.  Some of these performers are our orchestrations patrons.  Currently, there are about 300 organizations that regularly borrow from our collection.  These include choral groups, opera societies, community orchestras, chamber groups, church choirs, college, university and high school orchestras and even TV and film studios. 

Our orchestrations collection has great reach.  On average there are about 500 people in attendance at any one performance of an orchestrations piece.  Those people may not have been able to experience the joys of a live musical performance if it were not for the resources that were easily afforded to our orchestrations patrons.   Especially in these tough economic times, for many groups the library’s collection forms the backbone or in some cases the only source of music for their performances.

There is a $20.00 non-refundable handling charge for each orchestration borrowed, including operas.  This is a great deal since on average it costs around $1,000 to buy a full opera and around $300 to buy a regular orchestration.  Renting orchestrations can also cost on average $600 for operas and $100 for regular pieces.  Music can be reserved by telephone or in person.  Reserved scores will be held up to three months prior to the pick up date.  Reserves can be taken only when a work is on the shelf. 

The hours of service for the Orchestration Desk are: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from Noon – 5pm and Tuesday and Thursday from Noon – 7:30 pm. 

For more information on our orchestral collection, including how to open up an orchestrations account and check out procedures, please contact the Orchestration Desk directly at 213-228-7231.