Major collections

  • The Yoshimasa Wada Guitar music collection


Free Library of Philadelphia

  • The Yoshimasa Wada Guitar music collection
    • NOTE: All items in the collection are searchable through the Free Library's online catalog.

    • by Ross Mann

      The Free Library of Philadelphia, already home to the world's largest collection of orchestral music, the Fleischer collection, also houses the Yoshimasa Wada guitar music collection along with the many other works in their chamber music collection, totaling almost 27,000. Yoshimasa Wada was a long time member of the Philadelphia classical guitar society when he succumbed to AIDS in the spring of 1989, at 37. While the majority of the Wada titles are for solo guitar, there are also a great deal of works for guitar ensembles and for guitar and other instruments.

      Yoshimasa Wada was an enthusiastic amateur guitarist. A japanese émigré and Phd. recipient from the University of Tokyo, he was fluent in both English and Japanese in addition to being literate in French, German and more. In his position as a chemist with Rohm and Haas in Philadelphia, he traveled abroad extensively and would regularly return home to Philadelphia with stacks of music for the guitar.

      He served on the board of the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society for some time and studied guitar with William Ghezzi. Mr. Wada decided he wished to leave the collection to the guitar society upon his death. His teacher, William Ghezzi, initially completed an inventory of the collection. In his role as the music cataloguer at the Free Library, he also saw that as the society had no permanent space for the collection, incorporating the works into the chamber music collection at the Free Library insured that they would be cared for and accessible for years to come. Another benefit of housing the collection at the Free Library is that new works are still being added to the collection, increasing its size to the point where it is substantially larger than most conservatory collections, especially when combined with the library's own circulating collection of music.

      As part of the library's chamber music collection, all titles are available for loan by placing a cash or check deposit equal to the replacement value of the titles. Either a Free Library card (not required) or any picture ID with your mailing address is acceptable. While the chamber music collection is not available via the computer catalogue, it is accessible by card catalogue at the central branch at 20th and Vine streets. Though the collection is not indexed by traditional Dewey call numbers, a brief index by instrumentation can be found in the card catalogue. Solo guitar titles are simply listed under "Appendix O" while guitar in ensemble titles are listed nearby. Inquiries are also accepted by phone (215) 686-5316 and via email at <>.