Founders of ‘world-class’ music library die two months apart

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Bagaduce Music Lending Library co-founders Mary Cheyney Gould (left) and Marcia Chapman were honored in 2003 at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth.

Two of the founders of of the Bagaduce Music Lending Library in Blue Hill have passed away in the past two months.

Marcia W. Chapman died at her home in Brooksville in September at the age of 83.

Mary Cheyney Gould died earlier this month at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital at the age of 91.

The two women, along with Austrian pianist and conductor Fritz Jahoda (who died in 2008 at the age of 99) co-founded the music lending library in 1983. According to the library’s website, the idea of creating a library for sheet music was hatched while the trio drank tea in an RV borrowed from Noel Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul and Mary fame) as it sat parked in the basement garage of a former New York City funeral home.

“The three friends chatted about what they might do with their rather extensive collections of sheet music and scores, which they wanted to share with others and Jahoda suggested that a music lending library, similar to one that had existed in Vienna when he was a boy, would be a fine addition to the area’s public library system,” reads a brief history on the library website.

The result of their efforts, according to a 1988 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, was a “world-class” sheet music library in “an obscure Maine town.” The library was housed in Gould’s barn in Brooksville for two years, but has been located in Blue Hill since 1985.

Current advisors to the library include such musical luminaries as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Andre Watts, composer Paul Sullivan and Stookey, and in the past have included Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Erich Kunzel, among others.

Born in West Virginia in 1924, Gould learned to play piano at a young age and was introduced to choral music in high school prior to attending Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J., according to her obituary. Starting in 1954, she spent summers in Brooksville, where she moved full-time in 1973 and founded the Bagaduce Chorale in 1974.

Chapman was born in Beverly, Mass. in 1932, according to her obituary. She attended the University of New Hampshire, where she captained the tennis and ski teams, and was a life-long sailor.

In 1967 Gov. Ken Curtis presented Chapman with the first Maine State Award for outstanding contribution to Maine cultural life. She also founded and directed Music In Maine, helped create the ME Arts and Humanities Commission, and with Polly L. Thomas established the Maine State Ballet Co.

Both Chapman and Gould also loved to play croquet. Gould was a nationally recognized croquet player and coached many who came to play on her home court, which she and Chapman built together. Chapman also was a nationally ranked player, winning several major tournaments. After cancer curtailed Chapman’s activities, she coached croquet and conducted many clinics, her obituary indicates.

Martina Herries, executive director of the music library, said Wednesday that the deaths of Chapman and Gould in the past two months has had a profound impact on people involved and familiar with the organization.

“It leaves a very huge gap here,” Herries said.

She said she can picture Gould in heaven, humbly asking angels to sing along as she plays ‘Amazing Grace’ on the piano.

“Mary left a legacy of dedication to sharing music and promoting music education,” Herries said in a prepared statement. “The Bagaduce Music Lending Library would like to express our deepest sympathy to the family and all those who loved and admired her. She will be dearly missed.”

She added that the library staff and patrons also miss Chapman’s wit and wisdom about business and her love of sharing music and enjoying “every moment of life and its many challenges.”

She said that despite the recent deaths Chapman and Gould, the organization remains committed to completing its project of moving into a new library space and opening a performance Hall at the former Liberty School in Blue Hill.

“Our founders have given us the tools with which the community of educators, musicians and music lovers will complete this mission of sharing music world-wide,” Herries said.

Bill Trotter

About Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors. He writes about fisheries, marine-related topics, eastern coastal Maine communities and more for the BDN. He lives in Ellsworth. Follow him on Twitter at @billtrotter.