A Gift of Music

Filing cabinets full of donated sheet music

Stephen Luttmann, head of Skinner Music Library, looks at some of the thousands pieces of sheet music donated by the late Ronald Grosswiler, a UNC alumnus. Photo by Katie Owston

The widow of a UNC alumnus is donating her late husband’s extensive collection of sheet music — one that could be one of the largest collections in the state.

Growing up in an orphanage, Ronald Grosswiler didn’t have many possessions to call his own, so he vowed as an adult to amass as much music as he could.

“Music was his livelihood, his biggest interest and his passion,” said his widow, Eunice Throckmorton. “He wanted to dive into music as much as possible.”

The former Denver Public Schools music teacher earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from UNC. Over the span of his 35-year career, he acquired 20 filing cabinets and many boxes worth of material, which he stored at his home and at storage units he rented.

“He never got rid of any music he bought. He saved everything,” Throckmorton said.

Her husband, who passed away at age 73 in February, thought his music collection would most benefit students at UNC, Throckmorton said.

Stephen Luttmann, head of the Skinner Music Library, initially estimates there are 12,000 to 15,000 items in the collection — mostly guitar and piano music, along with some songbooks.

Much of the music is classical, although there is a good deal of ragtime and Latin American crossover styles. Luttman said that it will take several months to process the sheet music collection, which could be one of the largest in the state.

He noted that the donated sheet music is a mix of new material the university has never owned and new editions of music already in its extensive collection.

UNC music students will benefit from the collection. So will the community and other universities in the state that will be able to request and borrow the music.

The filing cabinets and boxes containing Grosswiler’s massive collection were unloaded by a professional moving company at UNC’s Michener Library on Aug. 30.

View a short video of interviews with Luttmann and Interim Dean of Libraries Helen Reed while the collection was being unloaded.
- Brittany Sarconi