New collection preserves music knowledge

Isidor Philipp and Harold Bradley

Isidor Philipp, left, and Harold Bradley at a piano in 1956. Photos from the Bradley Institute collection.

A wealth of Niagara Falls musical history is now preserved in Brock’s Special Collections and Archives.

Brock has received a donation of archival materials from the Bradley Institute for Music Education, a school that operated in Niagara Falls for more than 70 years before it closed in 2008.

A boy playing the cello. Photo from the Bradley Institute collection, Brock Special Collections and Archives

A boy playing the cello.

The collection has a wealth of musical history, including correspondence between Niagara Falls native James Harold Bradley (1906-1984) and Isidor Philipp (1863-1958), a world-renowned pianist and professor at the Conservatoire de Paris. Together, they founded the Bradley Institute for Musical Education in Paris. In 1932, they moved the institute to Niagara Falls.

The men had a unique approach to musical education, teaching music comprehensively via audio memory, muscle memory and the mind, said David Sharron, head of Special Collections and Archives.

“They understood that music further developed the left and right sides of the brain in their students and that everyone has musical ability,” he said.

The Bradley Collection includes photos, letters and student rosters over the decades. One gem is a roughly 250-page unpublished manuscript written by Bradley, who describes his history and philosophy of music. He worked on it until he died in 1984, Sharron said.

Images range from the 1940s to the 1990s, including many teachers and small children with “the tiniest violins I’ve ever seen,” he said.

“This would be of interest to anyone who’s interested in Niagara Falls history, especially those who went to the school,” he said. “This was a school that lasted for more than 70 years, so it was definitely an institution.”

An American university with an Isidor Philipp archive was also interested in the collection. Sharron says he is pleased that it was able to stay in Niagara.

A girl plays the violin with a young spectator nearby. Photo from the Bradley Institute collection.

A girl plays the violin with a young spectator nearby.

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