The esteemed musicologist and alumnus Philip Gossett (1941 – 2017) bequeathed his music collection of more than 2,000 items, primarily scores, to Juilliard. It represents his lifetime of comprehensive study of 19th-century Italian opera; he used many of the materials to prepare his critical editions of the works of Rossini and Verdi. Known as the Philip Gossett Music Collection, it is now part of the Peter Jay Sharp Special Collections in the Lila Wallace Acheson Library.
Gossett, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, wanted the collection to be in New York City because of his connections with Juilliard and the Metropolitan Opera; he wished to ensure that performers would have access to it. Born in New York, Gossett began studying piano at 5 and attended Juilliard's Preparatory Division (now Pre-College) for three years while he was in high school, a period during which he also spent Saturday afternoons at the Metropolitan Opera. He received his bachelor's degree in physics from Amherst and his doctorate in musicology from Princeton, writing his dissertation on the music of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi. He subsequently studied Rossini's operas on a Fulbright in Paris.
Gossett's primary scholarly interests were in 19th-century Italian opera, sketch studies, aesthetics, textual criticism, and performance practice. He authored books on Donizetti as well as the award-winning Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera (2006, Chicago); he was also general editor of collected editions of the works of Verdi and Rossini. He returned to Juilliard over the years to coach singers in Juilliard Opera's production of Rossini's Le comte Ory (2007), as a consultant for the Juilliard Choral Union's U.S. premiere of the 1864 edition of Rossini's Petite messe solennelle (2004), and to give several doctoral forums: “What Makes an Edition ‘Critical' and Why Performers Should Care: Reflections on Rossini and Verdi” (2004); “From Il Viaggio a Reims to Le comte Ory: Rossini Invents Petite Opéra” (2007); and “Falstaff and the Musical Fragment (2009).” On announcing the gift, Jane Gottlieb, vice president for library and information resources, expressed her gratitude to Gossett “for entrusting Juilliard with the care and preservation of his extraordinary collection” and said she looks forward “to sharing its treasures with performers and scholars.”
The digitization of the Philip Gossett Music Collection was made possible by a generous gift from Brian J. and Darlene Heidtke.