The Oral History of American Music (OHAM), an oral history project and archive of audio and video recordings based at Yale University consisting mainly of interviews with American classical and jazz musicians, has announced this week that its cornerstone collection, Major Figures in American Music, is now accessible online. Major Figures in American Music incorporates over 1400 interviews with noted American composers, performers, and other significant musicians—from historical talks with Samuel Barber, Mary Lou Williams, Elliott Carter, Pauline Oliveros, and Ornette Coleman to more recent conversations with Tania León, Stephen Sondheim, Nico Muhly, Du Yun, and Missy Mazzoli. The interviews date from OHAM’s founding half a century ago in 1970 to the present. OHAM continues to conduct interviews and add these to the collection every year. The collection notably features multiple interviews with Aaron Copland, John Adams, Julia Wolfe, Willie Ruff, and David Lang. Interviews were often conducted at various stages of their careers, and this provides a unique insight into their lives and work over time. In addition, OHAM has also made available for online perusal the video footage for numerous NewMusicBox Cover conversations recorded over the past 21 years including talks with Marin Alsop, Chou Wen-chung, Diamánda Galás, Jennifer Higdon, Bill T. Jones and Daniel Bernard Roumain, George Lewis, Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, Joan Tower, and many others.
The collection’s finding aid can be found at https://archives.yale.edu/repositories/7/resources/5480. The finding aid includes links to stream each interview online via OHAM’s AV access system, Aviary. Yale users can connect to the Yale VPN to stream these interviews without restriction. Other users are able to request access to interviews directly through Aviary. For access instructions, see https://guides.library.yale.edu/oham/collectionsguide/access. Users may also find interview Tables of Contents and request transcripts through OHAM’s website: https://guides.library.yale.edu/oham/collectionsguide.