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American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: C, Part 1-Francis Joseph Campbell

The NLS Music Section is part of a national network of cooperating libraries.  With that in mind, we are in touch with the network when they have patrons who are interested in the materials provided by our section, and there is a nice spirit of cooperation between the network and our offices here in the District of Columbia.

The Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies is a division of the American Library Association and has for many years presented an award known as the “Francis Joseph Campbell Award.” Recent Campbell Award winners include Steve Prine, (2016), Assistant Chief, NLS Network Division,  Jill Lewis (2013), former Director for the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and Chris Mundy (2014) Quality Assurance at Multi-State Center East.

This award was named for Francis Joseph Campbell, a native Tennessean born in 1832 and advocate for the blind.  After losing his vision as a child, it was suggested that he should learn basket weaving.  Joseph refused to maintain basket weaving as his avocation, and continued to study music in secret, learning music from his classmates.  How endearing is that for someone with a passion for music?  When the music teacher learned of these secret studies, he relented and began teaching Joseph himself.

With time, Joseph taught at the Tennessee School for the Blind in Nashville, and eventually at the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston.  (Shout out for our regional libraries in Tennessee and Massachusetts!) Further musical training was provided in Berlin and Leipzig. Campbell continued his musical career in England promoting braille notation to aid in reading and writing of music. He also encouraged independence for blind persons and pursued cycling, swimming and climbing mountains. With philanthropist Thomas Rhodes Armitage, he promoted music education under the patronage of Queen Victoria, and was knighted by King Edward VII in 1909, a far cry from a basket weaving career path.

The NLS collection includes information about Joseph Campbell with The Blind in History, Volume 3 (in Spanish) at DBF 00003. There is also a small biography in Great Blind Men and Women by Mary Thomas, available in braille at BRA 18402.  And the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress has his papers, including some braille.

Mutual cooperation goes a long way towards helping many people. Thanks to the classmates and music teachers of Francis Joseph Campbell, many people benefited from his passion for music and helped him to succeed on many levels.

Patrons read at the Reading Room for the Blind, Library of Congress

Braille Music Transcriber and Renaissance Woman, Karen Gearreald, Part 2

Continued from last week. Part 2 Q. What percentage of students who enroll in the program become LOC certified braille music transcribers? What are the most common obstacles to successfully completing the program? A. After concentrated study for a length of time ranging from several months to several years, about 50% of enrollees achieve certification […]

Braille Music Transcriber and Renaissance Woman: Karen Gearreald, Part 1

Part 1 Karen Gearreald has been an NLS patron since 1951, and when the Music Section was established in 1962, she enrolled for music services. She currently serves as a braille music advisor and instructor for the Library of Congress (LOC) Braille Music Transcription Certification program. While I initially contacted Karen to interview her about her […]

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: B (Part 2 – Bischoff, John W.)

John Bischoff was an American composer and organist who worked at the First Congregational Church in Washington, D.C. from 1874 until his death in 1909. Blind since the age of two, Bischoff attended the Wisconsin School for the Blind and later studied singing and organ before moving to Washington, D.C. His obituary from the May […]

Aiming Beyond Graduation: Creating Inclusive College Music Courses for Blind and Visually Impaired Students, Part 2

This blog is a continuation of an interview with Chi Kim, instructor and professor at the assistive music technology (AMT) lab for blind and visually impaired students at Berklee College of Music.

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: A (Part 2 – Atkins, Charles)

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: A (Part 2 – Atkins, Charles) This blog is about filling the alphabet with names of American composers, and American composers and musicians who are visually impaired or blind. At this point the idea is to have two composers listed for each letter of the alphabet, knowing […]

Discussing Braille Music with Lifetime NLS Patron Linn Sorge, Part 1

Linn Sorge has been a NLS patron since she was in kindergarten some 60 years ago. I met Linn when I took “Braille Music Basics,” an excellent introductory online course to reading braille music offered through Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  In addition to being a teacher at Hadley, Linn is an […]

Thinking About Learning Braille Music? Part II

Continued from last week While Bettye Krolick’s How to Read Braille Music: An Introduction is suitable for students who already know the basics of music and only need to learn how to decipher braille music symbols, Richard Taesch’s An Introduction to Music for the Blind Student is suitable for students who are just starting their […]

Thinking About Learning Braille Music? Part I

I always get excited when a patron requests a book on reading braille music because it means one more patron might be able to take advantage of our wonderful braille music collection. In my opinion, braille music readers have an edge over non-readers since they are able to explore and interpret the score themselves. In […]

Liessens Music Writer, Part 2

Continued from last week August Liessens was born in 1894 in Ninove, Belgium. When he was seven years old, he enrolled at the local school for the blind, headed by the Brothers of Charity (Frères de la Charité).  Following that, Liessens was admitted to Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelle, a music school that boasts such famous faculty […]