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.

About the Collection:

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. The Appalachian Dulcimer Archive was launched in 2012 by the 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.  The instruments themselves are housed at the Tennessee State Museum.  

  • Strengths of the Collection: Variety! Included in this collection are his research notes on historic dulcimers, photos, scrapbooks, CDs, personal artifacts like the straw hat that he worn, napkins that he wrote his thoughts on, posters, postcards, press releases, and a variety of other objects.
  • How Do I Access the Collection? Rare and fragile materials are kept in the vault, but items in good condition like his CDs, have been added to the normal circulating collection. You can do a phrase search for “From the David Schnaufer Collection” in Library Catalog or ask a member of the Wilson Music Library staff for help.
  • Learn more about Schnaufer and the dulcimer at the Appalachian Dulcimer Archive.