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The University of Iowa Libraries

Rita Benton Music Library

Arthur and Miriam Canter Rare Book Room

rare_book_room_websiteThe Canter Rare Book Room contains about 3,000 cataloged books and music scores. The room was named in 2016 in honor of long-time campus and community arts patrons, Arthur and Miriam Canter. The core of the collection was assembled by the late Rita Benton during the 1970s. Its primary strengths are in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century music theory treatises and texts (including instruction books), keyboard and chamber music of the late eighteenth to early nineteen centuries (Johann Schobert, Hullmandel, Joseph Haydn, Muzio Clementi, etc.), and more than 200 works by Ignaz Pleyel.

Important earlier authors include Zarlino (1562), Kircher (1650), John Playford (1694), Bedos de Celles (1766-1778), Descartes (1656), and Henry Lawes (1637-38). Several Rameau treatises are present in first editions.

The collection is searchable via the University of Iowa’s catalog, InfoHawk+. Earlier print catalogs of the collection include the following:

Gable, Frederick K. An Annotated Catalog of Rare Musical Items in the Libraries of the University of Iowa. Iowa City, University Libraries, University of Iowa, 1963. (ML136.I57 G3). Describes the 275 titles then housed in locked cabinets in the Music Library or in the Department of Special Collections in the Main Library (these being transferred to the Music Library in 1972).

Rowley, Gordon S. An Annotated Catalog of Rare Musical Items in the Libraries of the University of Iowa; Additions 1963-1972. Iowa City, University of Iowa, 1973. (ML136.I57 R7 1973) Describes the 278 titles that had been added during the preceding decade.

Scherubel, Melody Noel. “An Annotated Bibliography of Rare Books in the Rita Benton Music Library of the University of Iowa Acquired Since 1973 and Relating Especially to the Theory of Music.” 1985. (T1985.S33) MA thesis (Music) Describes 186 titles “that are of particular interest to music theorists” including general and specialized histories of music, collections of essays, and reference works.

Inquiries about specific holdings may also be addressed to the Rita Benton Music Library <lib-mus@uiowa.edu>.

The collection is housed in a room within the Library proper and is available Sunday-Friday whenever the Music Library is open. Prospective visitors from out-of-town are advised to contact the Library in advance to ensure that the collection will be accessible.