Special Collections at the Wilson Music Library: David Schnaufer Collection

An overview of the special collections available for students, faculty, and researchers held by the Anne Potter Wilson Music Library.

About David Schnaufer:

David Schnaufer was an award-winning dulcimer player and session musician. He moved to Nashville during the 1980s and starting teaching dulcimer here at the Blair School of Music as an associate adjunct professor in 1995. David was one of the first teachers in the Blair School’s folk music program, along with Mark O’Connor and Butch Baldassari. David established himself as one of the country's premier dulcimer players. He played the dulcimer on recordings with The Judds, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, and Chet Atkins, among others.  He had many students, one of whom was the singer Cyndi Lauper who mentioned him at her most recent concert at the Ryman Auditorium on May 9. Schnaufer died at Alive Hospice in Nashville after a battle with lung cancer.

Overview of the Collection: 

Size and Scope of the Collection:
  • This collection includes a wide variety of published and unpublished materials, including CDs, press clippings, photos, scrapbooks, research notes, and photographs.
Collection Strengths:
  • Throughout his career, Schnaufer researched the history and culture of the Appalachian dulcimer, traveling around Tennessee collecting instruments, oral histories, and music. In the late 1980s, he began researching and performing with a unique Tennessee dulcimer which was called a "music box" by its creators over 100 years ago. This research has been compiled into a digital project by the Wilson Music Library, the Appalachian Dulcimer Archive.
Accessing the Collection:
  • Published materials in good condition, including CDs, have been added to the normal circulating collection. They can be found in the library catalog by searching the phrase "from the david schnaufer collection."
  • Rare and fragile materials are kept in the vault and must be used in-house under supervision. 
  • The Appalachian Dulcimer Archive was launched in 2012 as part of the Global Music Archive by the Wilson Music Library. Initially conceived by David Schnaufer, the database was designed as a "sound museum," exhibiting playable song clips played on historic handmade dulcimers alongside his research and documentation (gathered with Sandy Conaster) of historical dulcimers including photos, dimensions, dates where known, and other provenance information.
  • Schnaufer's dulcimers are housed at the Tennessee State Museum.