Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Manuscript sheet music. Click to enlarge.

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Trio for piano, violin and cello, 1914


The Ransom Center's music holdings include materials found in many different collections throughout the Center. In addition to manuscript and printed scores, libretti, and books on music, the collections contain musicians' correspondence, photographs, artwork, recordings, clippings, programs, and costume and set designs. One of the collection's strengths lies in the illumination of relationships between authors, composers, designers, agents, record producers, film producers, and others involved in the creative process, thus providing a multifaceted look at the history of music-making.

Early Music

The Ransom Center houses a small collection of Medieval and Renaissance liturgical manuscripts, Bibles, and Books of Hours containing music. The oldest manuscript of musical interest is an eleventh-century codex compiled by Abbot Ellinger of Tegernsee, informally known as the "Bede manuscript," since it begins with Bede's De natura rerum. It contains a poem on the constellations, Ad Boreae partes, attributed to the fourth-century poet Ausonius, which is provided with musical notation (unheightened Sangallian neumes). The penultimate work in the manuscript is De diversis generibus musicorum, an important essay on the spiritual significance of certain musical instruments, spuriously presented as a letter from St. Jerome to Dardanus. Among the manuscript liturgical books and separate leaves of chant is a fifteenth-century German ferial psalter and hymnal important for its relationship to the Gutenberg Bible and early printed psalters.

The so-called Gostling Manuscript, made by the celebrated bass soloist John Gostling in 1706, contains sixty-four anthems by Henry Purcell, John Blow, and their contemporaries. (A facsimile of the Gostling Manuscript was printed by The University of Texas Press in 1977.)

A large number of diverse music-related materials has been cataloged in the Music Manuscripts collection. Dates of the material range from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, and the collection includes both music scores and correspondence. Significant among the early works are a score for "Il trionfo di Camilla" by Giovanni Bononcini (1670-1747) and part books for operas by Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) and his student Pascal Collasse (1649-1709). Other notable items in the collection are letters or manuscripts by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), Georges Bizet (1838-1875), Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842), George Gershwin (1898-1937), W. C. Handy (1873-1958), Franz Liszt (1811-1886), Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847), Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868), Robert Schumann (1810-1856), John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900), Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), and Richard Wagner (1813-1883).

The collection of American musicologist Theodore M. Finney (1902-1978) consists of manuscripts dating from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, including songs, anthems, glees, opera arias, and music for keyboard, harp and mandolin. The collection is rich in materials documenting the normal daily use of music in church and in the home: for example, volumes of choral music used by cathedral choirs, a French noblewoman's copy book containing popular songs for voice and guitar, and English and Irish country dances. One of the more important items is a contemporary manuscript of Handel's Coronation Anthems (1727).

In 1958 the Center acquired the library of bibliophile, collector, and concert violinist Edwin Bachmann. His library includes first and early editions of music by major western European composers (with particular strengths in Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang A. Mozart, and Frédéric Chopin), early treatises on music, and a few copyist's manuscripts, including works by Joseph Haydn, Mozart and Giovanni Battista Viotti. The collection also contains the piano vocal score from the first edition (1871) of Verdi's Aida, as performed at its debut on December 24, 1871 in Cairo, as well as the libretto for the first Milanese performance of the opera at La Scala in 1872. Important early theoretical works in the Bachmann collection are complemented by those from the library of former University of Texas professor Fritz Oberdoerffer (1895-1979).

In 1969 New York book dealer Hans P. Kraus (1907-1988) donated his collection of approximately thirty-eight hundred Italian libretti dating from 1600 to the early twentieth century. With libretti for operas, cantatas, serenatas, oratorios, dialogues, and passions, and including non-Italian works performed in translation in Italy, it is one of the most important such collections in the United States. The Kraus Collection includes the first libretto printed in Italy, Ottavio Rinuccini's (1562-1621) La Dafne (1600), as well as his L'Euridice from the same year. These and other libretti, such as the 1749 libretto for Handel's Susanna, offer the possibility of research on language use, symbolism, and censorship, as well as the study of historical and political changes, the effects of which are reflected in the libretti.

The Center also has eighty-two early printed hymnals, psalters, and liturgical books from the library of French pianist, conductor, and teacher Alfred Cortot (1877-1962). These items originally formed part of the categories Musique vocale religieuse and Liturgie in Cortot's own catalog of his vast music library, and they illustrate various facets of the development of European sacred music.

Additionally, the Center holds large collections of sheet music dating back to the seventeenth century, as well as songbooks, hymnals, collections of Irish and Scottish folk music, and French contredanse pamphlets.

Nineteenth & Twentieth Centuries

The Carlton Lake Collection contains one of the finest collections of modern French music materials in the world. A group of ninety manuscript scores by Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré, Maurice Ravel, Paul Dukas, and Albert Roussel was acquired in 1983, making the Ransom Center the largest American repository of these composers' works. Among the many composers represented in the Lake Collection are:

Georges Auric (1899-1983): manuscript music scores; manuscripts of reviews; correspondence, including forty-seven letters to Valentine and Jean Hugo documenting the music world in the era of Parade; photographs and portrait-drawings.

Hector Berlioz (1803-1869): autograph manuscript, with corrections, of an aria from Benvenuto Cellini.

Ernest Chausson (1855-1899): complete autograph manuscript of Le Roi Arthus, an opera in three acts, written on 194 sheets, with additions and variants on the verso of 123 of these.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918): autograph manuscripts for En Sourdine, Printemps, and the ballet Khamma; the manuscript for his libretto to the uncompleted opera La Chute de la maison Usher; and numerous letters, including significant exchanges with Georges Jean-Aubry and Emile Vuillermoz.

Paul Dukas (1865-1935): autograph manuscripts of six works including La Peri, the Sonate for piano, and L'Apprenti sorcier, in both the orchestral and two-piano versions.

Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924): autograph manuscripts for fifteen compositions, including Le Jardin clos, Masques et bergamasques, and the Barcarolle No. 13.

Franz Liszt (1811-1886): complete manuscript score of Gaudeamus Igitur, and important correspondence with his two daughters, Blandine and Cosima, expressing his concern over their education and their intellectual and artistic development.

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937): autograph manuscripts for eighteen works, including Daphnis et ChloĆ«, Gaspard de la nuit, Introduction et allegro, Ma Mère l'oye, Rapsodie espagnole, Shéhérazade, and the piano trio. Also present are letters to Valentine Hugo, Emile Vuillermoz, and others.

Albert Roussel (1869-1937): autograph manuscripts for fifty compositions, representing sixty percent of his complete output. Included are the scores for the opera Padmâvatî, the ballets Aeneas and Le Festin de l'araignée, the piano concerto op. 36, numerous works for voice, and many instrumental pieces.

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921): forty-three-page autograph manuscript score of La Nuit and numerous letters.

Erik Satie (1866-1925): original, complete score for orchestra of Relâche. Cinéma ("Entr'acte") used by the conductor Roger Desormière at the ballet's première, and letters, including a large correspondence with Valentine Hugo illuminating his relations with Diaghilev, Misia Sert, Picasso, Cocteau, Fargue, and Auric, especially during the years of Parade.

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971): autograph manuscript, full score, of Stravinsky's orchestration of Chopin's Grande valse brillante; and letters to Jean Cocteau, Valentine Hugo, Man Ray and others.

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901): draft of the Act I Scena e Duetto from Alzira.

The Lake Collection also contains the papers of critics Emile Vuillermoz (1878-1960) and Georges Jean-Aubry (1882-1950).

Among the other collections related to French music are the complete papers of author Edouard Dujardin (1861-1949), founder of the Revue wagnérienne, and the library of Edgard (1885-1965) and Louise Varèse (1891-1989).

The music library of Adolfo Betti (1875-1950), leader of the Flonzaley String Quartet, was purchased by the School of Music in 1951 and transferred to the Ransom Center in 1996. Founded in 1902, the Flonzaley was one of the most important early string quartets in America and one of the first to make recordings.

The composer, musicologist and pianist Paul A. Pisk (1893-1990) donated his manuscript scores to the Ransom Center. The gift included his opus numbers 1-100 and 105-113 as well as sixty-one compositions and sketches without opus number. The papers of Robert Haven Schauffler (1879-1964), poet, cellist, and writer on music, consist primarily of letters to him from a wide range of musicians and literary figures.

The papers of composer Nicolas Nabokov (1903-1978), spanning the years 1933-1978, include autograph and duplicated scores by Nabokov as well as correspondence with W. H. Auden, George Balanchine, Igor Stravinsky, and many other composers, performers, and writers.

George Lessner (1904-1997) emigrated to the U.S. from Hungary and composed operas and concert music as well as popular songs and scores for film and musical theater. His papers include manuscripts of his work in all these genres, as well as scores written by his son, Alford Lessner.

The papers of musicologist Eric Walter White (1905-1985) contain a few autograph scores by Michael Tippett (1905-1998), manuscripts and research materials for White's books on Tippett, Benjamin Britten, Stravinsky, and English opera, and extensive correspondence with Tippett, Britten, and other leading musical and literary figures. The Center also has Tippett's library.

The papers of Ross Russell (1909-2000), writer on jazz and founder of Dial Records, contain books, periodicals, correspondence, documents, photographs, recordings, and the business files of Dial Records, famous for issuing some of the most important recordings of Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, and other legendary Bebop musicians. The archive also contains materials on classical musicians recorded by Dial, notably seventeen letters to Russell from Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951).

The Paul Bowles (1910-1999) collection contains the most extensive gathering of his literary and music manuscripts, printed books and music, recordings, and correspondence. (See also American Literature.)

The archive of American composer and teacher Kent Kennan (1913-2003) includes manuscript and published scores, scrapbooks, correspondence with friends, family, and colleagues, articles, yearbooks, awards, diplomas, a 1924 diary, lists of performances, photographs, programs, reviews, and books from his library. There are also articles about and correspondence with his brother, the statesman George Kennan, in the collection.

The papers of novelist and composer Anthony Burgess (1917-1993) include manuscripts for approximately one hundred twenty musical works dating from 1970 to 1993, along with sketches, drafts, and fragments. There are songs, piano pieces, string quartets, guitar quartets, sonatas and other chamber works, choral works, concertos, scores for plays and films, overtures, and other symphonic works. Vocal pieces include settings of texts by James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and T. S. Eliot. Also present are published editions of Weber's Oberon and Berlioz's Enfance du Christ containing Burgess's working notes for his English translations of the texts.

The collection of manuscripts by composer Aaron Copland (1900-1990) includes sketches and the orchestral score for his Lincoln Portrait as well as the manuscripts of early songs.

The Jablonski and Stewart Collection was generated by the collaborative efforts of Edward Jablonski (b. 1922) and Lawrence D. Stewart (b. 1926) during the writing of their books The Gershwin Years (1958) and The Gershwin Years in Song (1973). The collection includes the authors' research materials, correspondence, transcripts of interviews, and other materials relating to the publication of the books, as well as a few original manuscripts of George and Ira Gershwin. There are also Gershwin materials in several other collections at the Center, to include the painting made by Siqueiros. (See Latin American Studies.)

Daniel Catán (1948-2011) is best known for his five completed operas, four of which have had highly successful performances in the U.S. His papers include the scores for his operas and for a large number of his other compositions, as well as other materials related to his professional career.

The papers of Peter Garland (b. 1952), composer and founder of the Soundings Press. which specialized in avante-garde American music, include extensive correspondence with Conlon Nancarrow, Dane Rudhyar, Harry Partch, and others.

Other Collections

The Performing Arts Collection houses popular sheet music, material on American musical theater and British music hall shows, photographs of popular and classical performers and ensembles, and material relating to ballet and opera, including set and costume designs as well as actual costumes. There is material relating to George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Burl Ives, John Philip Sousa, Fred Waring, and Paul Anka.

The papers of American librettist and lyricist Harry Bache Smith (1860-1936) include correspondence with Victor Herbert, Reginald DeKoven, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and others, as well as over fifty manuscripts of his plays and librettos, spanning the years 1902-1934.

A small collection of correspondence between songwriters Anelu Burns and Madelyn Sheppard and film producer Harry H. Poppe illuminates the world of songwriting for films in 1919 and 1920.

The Opera Collection (1800s-1990) consists of biographical holdings on operatic performers. The careers of approximately one thousand performers are documented with photographs, clippings, prints, programs, and playbills. The collection also includes production photographs relating to operatic works produced for the American stage, and materials documenting the history of prominent opera companies in the United States, as well as a selection of European companies.

The Film Collection houses the David O. Selznick (1902-1965) archive, which contains manuscript full scores, and conductor and orchestral parts for twenty-two films produced between 1937 and 1946. These include Gone With the Wind, A Star is Born, Nothing Sacred, Duel in the Sun, and Spellbound. (See also Film & Television.)