Visitors from the Past

A fascinating collection of 19th Century visiting cards of musical personalities, complete with anecdotes rarely spoken. See the most extensive collection in North America, if not worldwide. 

In the 1970s, Frederic Schang, the former General Manager of Columbia Artists Management published his collection of performing arts visiting cards in four volumes. Neglia’s book is the first such book since Schang’s final volume, Visiting Cards of Pianists made the shelves in 1979. Neglia, taking a departure from writing accounts of his life and career in the arts, concentrating his efforts on a book focusing on 19th-century classical musicians via the visiting cards.

It all began in 1995; while on a concert tour in Vienna, Neglia visited a small shop located in the Dorotheum. The shop displayed a wide array of classical composers’ autographed letters, pictures, musical quotes, and visiting cards. It was then he began his journey to enjoy the fine art of collecting.

By the year 2020, Neglia amassed one of the largest visiting card collections, not only in North America, but worldwide. After writing his autobiographical books,Onward and Upward and Center Stage, Neglia took a break from writing about the on-stage portion of his life, to concentrate on the off-stage, collector’s side.

Visiting cards were exchanged among trading partners in China as early as the 15th century. Their purpose was to announce your presence in an aristocratic or wealthy home. One would hand the printed card to the servant who greeted you at the door, and the card announcing your presence was brought to the person you were visiting in another room of the home or office.  Many people would save the cards as a remembrance of the people who visited their home. 

Visitors from the Past illustrates Neglia’s passion for these relics of a time gone by, while offering further insight into the private life of the talents of 19th-century composers, conductors, and musicians from where they originated.

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