Joseph Muller collection of music and other portraits

Collection Data

The Muller collection contains over six thousand images dating from the 16th to early 20th centuries, mostly engravings and lithographs, with some drawings, predominantly of composers and musicians. The collection also includes portraits of actors, heads of state, music patrons, nobility, philosophers, poets, printers, theorists, and writers, among others.
Muller, Joseph, 1877-1939 (Collector)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1500 - 1939 (Approximate)
Library locations
Music Division
Musicians -- Europe
Musicians -- United States
Biographical/historical: Joseph Muller was a collector, amateur musician, musicologist, and portraitist. Born of German-Belgian parents in Frankfurt-am-Main, Joseph Muller, who started collecting during his student days, studied violin at the Brussels Conservatory, where, as a student of Alexandre Cornélius, he won first prize in July 1895. But his love of travel led him to a career as a ship's steward. During his many travels he sought out print dealers worldwide, adding to his growing collection. He collected music manuscripts and letters in addition to portraits (not surprisingly he was especially attracted to those of string players). By the early 1930s, he left his steward position and became an assistant in the Music Division of New York Public Library. His interest in music and collecting led him to do extensive research, making him an authority on early music and early American music in particular. In his 1935 publication "The Star-Spangled Banner : words and music issued between 1814-1864," Muller compiled an annotated and richly illustrated bibliography, tracing variant early publications of the text and tune of the American national anthem. An amateur artist, Muller drew copies of prints and, to a lesser degree, made portraits from life (usually at the back of a concert hall). Some of these drawings are included in the Muller Collection as well. He died at his home in Closter, New Jersey, on May 9, 1939.
Physical Description
Extent: 38.5 linear ft. (approx. 6,000 prints in 308 boxes)
Type of Resource
Still image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b16492080
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): bc9cb190-c598-012f-9f74-58d385a7bc34
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