I often get a glimpse of unfamiliar books in the collection when they circulate from the stacks to the reading room and back. One such book was Rondes des quatres saisons(1884), which celebrates the passing of the seasons in four pieces, with lyrics by the poet Leon Valade (1844-1884), music by Leopold Dauphin (1847-?), and illustrations by several artists, including Maurice Boutet de Monvel (1851-1913), best known for his patriotic picture book biography of Joan of Arc.
Rondes crossed my desk on Monday, when winter was doing its best to reassert itself as it does when the weather finally starts to warm up. While leafing through the volume, I found this chilling, but charming illustration of children stamping their feet to keep warm in a snow shower.
Rondes des quatres saisons came to the Cotsen Children’s Library with the acquisition of the Diana Rexford Tillson Collection in the mid-1990s. Its vast holdings of picture books, scores, sheet music, sound recordings, and toys documenting the history of music education and appreciation were thoughtfully selected by Miss Tillson, who was for years a Suzuki method violin teacher. Small discoveries like this Boutet de Monvel illustration are reminders of how rich Miss Tillson’s collection is. Thanks to her vision, it will continue to support in the years to come both the musicologist looking for a rare edition of Sir Thomas Morley and the performer looking for a piece of sheet music to rearrange for barber shop quartet.