Despite the trend to digital in almost every area of the arts, it’s safe to say that orchestras will be needing their printed music scores for a long time. That’s based on evidence of more and more performing groups at universities and colleges welcoming the donation of large collections of symphonic and choral scores. Recent large donations have gone to places as diverse as the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the University of Miami, and Duke University in Durham, NC.
Perhaps it’s the expense of having a printed score for every instrument and singer in an ensemble; a full symphony score with all the parts can run several hundred dollars, and often the company supplying the score will only rent it!
As an appraiser who has handled several of these donations, one word of advice: Since valuation is based on the actual number of materials, make sure your account of the scores is clear on HOW MANY types you actually have. That is, does that Beethoven symphony include conductor score, or just a study score? And does it have a separate printed score part of each instrument? If so, how many parts? It’s not enough to know “parts: violins; parts: horns.” Is that 10? 25? 125? Be explicit. Your appraiser, your tax accountant, and the I.R.S. will appreciate it!