Posted by & filed under Musicking in the Sandborn.

LOCAL ARCHIVES, GLOBAL HISTORY: POST 8 BY EMMA WIMBERG

While Dr. Helen Hewitt was on her Guggenheim Fellowship in Paris, Hewitt’s mother, worried about Hewitt and how her time was going, wrote to her from the states to ask if she had found a women’s group with which to engage. Hewitt replied: 

“I asked [a French colleague] about women’s societies; and he said they had a group of women who met to sew, etc., Tuesday afternoons at the church. Mother, do you really think I should take more afternoons off for this sort of thing, when I have so much to do? It does seem as though there are enough women who have nothing to do afternoons who can take care of such matters. I feel as though my time should be spent where it will do the most good – – in my own work.” 

Hewitt was firm in her conviction about what she wanted in life: to establish herself as an organist and as a musicologist, making materials more accessible for others to study while publishing her own contributions to the field. She did not let the ideas about what a woman should be doing impact what she was going to do. This conviction—and the respect she earned through her work and actions—extended past musicology and into performance. During her time as a professor, Hewitt taught musicology classes and organ lessons. She studied under many famous organ teachers and was an incredible player in her own right, being highly sought after as an organist. This post will explore Hewitt’s reputation among performers and her dedication to the organ, and specifically to the organ studio at NTSU, its students, and the instrument the auditorium houses. This last point would eventually place Hewitt in a difficult position, where speaking her mind in the interest of attaining the best possible instrument for the university caused the Möller organ building company to consider filing a lawsuit against her for defamation. 

In the mid-twentieth century, French organists commonly toured America to showcase their talent, which allowed Hewitt to forge a strong friendship with the famed organist and composer Jean Langlais. During one visit to Hewitt’s Denton residence, Langlais spent many hours playing with Hewitt’s cat, Lady Quintadina, named after an organ stop and her kittens. He became infatuated with them and not only remembered to call on the cat’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, but also wrote a piece inspired by the Lady and dedicated it to Hewitt. The movement in his American Suite was thus titled Scherzo: Cats and was first performed before its publication on the Möller organ in the North Texas State University auditorium that Hewitt herself had worked so hard to improve. 

newspaper clipping titled Premier Today of Music Inspired by Denton Cat

Figure 1: Newspaper clipping captioned “The Lady and the Cat.” University of North Texas Music Special Collections. Helen M. Hewitt Papers, 1887-1976, Series 1: Papers, Box 428, Folder 5. 

The story of Hewitt and the Möller organ began not long after her hiring at the university. There were few organs on campus and 50 organ students. Hewitt began trying to shift the studio to be smaller and more focused, and for these changes to take hold the students needed a quality instrument with which to work. In the mid-1940s Hewitt started asking for a budget to fix the Möller organ in the auditorium, the only performance instrument used during her tenure. However, the dean at the time was more focused on furthering the vocal department rather than the instrumental one, and had turned down the previously proposed repair contract even after it had been looked over by Möller. Once Hewitt left on her Guggenheim to Paris, the dean’s retirement and the department’s regime change brought instrumental music up the ladder of priorities. The new acting dean, Dr. Walter Hodgson, who later became the dean, immediately sought out Möller to finalize a contract for the construction of a new organ console. 

In March of 1948, the university signed a final contract with Möller Co. for $26,400 worth of work to be done on the new organ, including a new console, new stops, and general repairs. Hewitt remained very hands-on throughout the entirety of the re-build. She constantly gave her input on what stops she wanted included and how she wanted the instrument to sound upon completion. Correspondence from Hewitt lists specific requests she had for the instrument, requests that were not all filled. 

Just as construction on the organ came to a close in March of 1949, Hewitt fell ill and privately sought treatment for her ailment. During this time, there is a sizable gap in her usual letter-writing habits to the point where there are many letters from her close friends inquiring as to if she is angry with them because they had received no reply to subsequent letters over the course of a few months. This gap leaves much to be wondered concerning the final implementation of the organ and Hewitt’s relationship with the builder. 

If Hewitt was such a highly respected and loved figure among the university’s music department, then why did Dean Hodgson receive a disgruntled letter about her from a well-known organ company? There is documentation of Möller considering legal action against Hewitt, but why? Many of the letters between the two concerning her displeasure are not recorded in our archives, but there is mention of the feelings the two parties had for one another. Walter Hodgson, the dean who had overseen the project, wrote to Hewitt about a disgruntled letter he had received from the Möller company (see figure 2). It reads: 

Dear Hellen:

I am sorry too have to bother you with another letter right now, but I received quite a long letter from Möller, air-mail, special delivery, dated June 24, and I think that is quite important.

Ten days ago Mr. Schleigh came with an assistant and was here for four days. He is Fort Worth now so that we could get him again on certain occasions. He got the organ in fine shape for Stanley’s recital. (By the way, I turned in a card to change the “x” for Stanley’s recital to an “A” which I understood what you thought was right.) Now I have this letter from Ridgely in which he says that several churches which are prospects for large organs have been in touch with you and that you have given them negative reports regarding their work at the college. “There is one prospects in particular, the First Baptist Church at Lubbock, that is buying quite a large organ and the member of the committee, Mrs. Akinson, contacted Dr. Hewitt and received quite a negative report.”

Now I’ll ask Robert to write you regarding the voicing of the organ that Mr. Schleigh undertook. What I wonder is whether or not, in view of that, if we had better write saying that the organ has been improved. In other words, I think that we might do some harm by being too critical. You see, I wrote a very strong letter to W. R. Daniels, vice-president of Möller and received quite a long and conciliatory letter from his, and Mr. Schleigh arrived two days later.

In any case I wanted to let your know of Ridgely’s letter. He indicates that they are strongly on the defensive now and feel that they have done enough that we ought to be grateful. 

Let me know what you think. With affectionate regards from the whole family.

 

Very sincerely,

Walter H. Hodgson, Dean

School of Music

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Figure 2: Letter from Walter H. Hodgson to Helen M. Hewitt. University of North Texas Music Special Collections. Helen M. Hewitt Papers, 1887-1976, Series 1: Papers, Box 420, Folder 8. 

This letter conveys a friendly scolding tone, where the dean does not truly reprimand Hewitt for her freedom in giving a negative coloring of her interaction with Möller, but gently tries to warn her of the current situation whilst trying to help figure out how to get the situation resolved. He also makes it clear that he has sent a strong letter of his own and that they are in this together. 

The next important part of this letter is that Dr. Hewitt did not go around spreading a bad coloring of Möller and their work. Rather, she was asked her opinion, and she gave an honest response. Hewitt had worked hard to gain the respect she had in the musicology and organist communities, and part of this meant being trusted to give sound, honest insight to problems and questions that others had. It would have been incredibly out of character for her to take this opportunity to forge a stronger bond with Möller by recommending them to everyone against her better judgement. 

It is also possible that Hewitt’s displeasure with Möller’s services could be from the poor conditions they left the school with while the organ was away being reconstructed. The first practice organ they left in its place began giving the school trouble, and scheduling the time to put a new substitute instrument in the auditorium was a nightmare as well. All of this, while the studio filled capacity at around 50 students. While much remains to be explored on this matter, it is clear that Hewitt wanted to make sure her organ students had an instrument of high caliber on which they could perform, and intended to make this need heard. 

Posted by & filed under Displays.

close-up of display featuring musical Ukrainian coins

Display of photographs of coins from Ukraine from the Stephen Dunning Musical Coin Collection, UNT Music Library.

 

At the Music Library, a display was assembled featuring photographs and descriptions of coins from Ukraine, which were curated from the Stephen Dunning Musical Coin Collection.

Learn more about Stephen Dunning and his unique coin collection on the collection finding aid:

“The collection consists of 106 coins depicting or referring to musical culture, dating from circa 261 B.C.E. through 2019, and originating from locations including ancient Greece, former Soviet republics, African countries, Niue Island, the European Union, and the United States. Many coins feature instruments, musical works, composers, or musicians of national importance. The collection provides a multifaceted view of music and culture expressed in national coinage, along with some souvenir coins and tokens.”

Below are photographs of selected coins from the collection:

 

Front of coin depicts a chorus singing, back of coin has a common nightingale flying above sheet music and depicts coin denomination

Item 47: Ukraine, 2016

5 hryvnia coin, commemorating centenary of first performance of Mykola Leontovych’s “Shchedryk” Christmas song (known in U.S. as melody of “Carol of the Bells”) by the Kiev University choir.      

 

Front of coin depicts Ostap Veresai holding a bandura, back of coin depicts a bandura on top of a decorative pattern with coin denomination

Item 48: Ukraine, 2003

2 hryvnia coin, commemorating Ostap Veresai (1803-1890). 

 

Front of coin shows part of a lira with a decorative edge, back of coin showcasing decorative nature-like pattern with coin denomination

Item 50: Ukraine, 2004

5 hryvnia coin depicting Ukranian lira (instrument). 

 

Front of coin showing tsymbaly instrument on gold center overlapping the silver decorative border, back of coin depicting decorative pattern with coin denomination

Item 51: Ukraine, 2006

5 hryvnia coin depicting tsymbaly. 

 

Front of coin portraying buhay drum on gold background with a silver decorative border, back of coin showcasing arching decorative pattern and coin denomination

Item 52: Ukraine, 2007

5 hryvnia coin depicting buhay drum. 

 

Front of coin illustrating Ukrainian choir surrounded by sunflowers and blank sheet music, back of coin depicting 100 year celebration next to a tuning fork surrounded by sunflowers and the coin denomination

Item 75: Ukraine, 2019

5 hryvnia coin commemorating 100 years of the 100 Years of The National Choir of Ukraine ‘Dumka’.

 

Front of coin portraying Mykhailo Verbytsky with a lyre and music notation, back of coin depicting a crowd of people with their hands over their hearts in front of a flag surrounding the Ukrainian coat of arms symbol and coin denomination

Item 78: Ukraine, 2015

2 hryvnia coin commemorating bicentennial of Mykhailo Verbytsky (1815-1870).

 

Front of coin illustrating the National Music Academy building, back of coin illustrating a lyre on top of musical notation with the coin denomination located in middle of lyre

Item 86: Ukraine, 2019

2 hryvnia coin commemorating 175 years of the National Music Academy M.V. Lysenko. 

 

Front of coin depicting Volodymyr Ivasyuk surrounded by leaves, back of coin illustrating decorative pattern with a sunflower on the left and an electric guitar on top of piano keys on the right and coin denomination at the bottom

Item 89: Ukraine, 2009

2 hryvnia coin honoring Volodymyr Ivasyuk (1949-1979).

Thank you for visiting the digital adaptation of this display. If you are interested in accessing more coins from Stephen Dunning’s coin collection in person, please peruse the Stephen Dunning Collection finding aid and select “Request Reading Room Access” to make an appointment with our Music Special Collections Librarian, Maristella Feustle.

Posted by & filed under Student Publications.

By Mattie Tempio

 

Introduction

The sounds of rain and water are more than simple sounds: since the beginning of humanity, rain has been the center of our lives, making everything from food to electricity possible. As such an important part of world culture and human history, it has been explored by countless composers, conveyed in countless media formats. It has been portrayed through simple recordings and in programmatic music. However, with the rise of interactive computer music, there is yet more within the realm of water to explore. My thesis, Rainpiece, aims to create a modular, interactive soundscape as a basis for a flute, viola and harp trio, using pre-recorded fixed media and live diffusion to create a single, synthesized experience. The work for this piece began more than a year ago, though in the last semester I have made great strides towards accomplishing my goal. These steps included creating unique notations to convey my ideas, studying concepts behind soundscape and memory, and experimenting with granulation frameworks in the max/MSP software.

Technical Aspects

As this thesis focuses on the interaction between water sounds and instrumental sounds, the notation is a key part of a performer’s understanding of the work. The score structure is divided into solo parts, for solo performances, and trio parts, used for optional trio performances. This piece uses proportional notation, though also includes fast-paced, rhythmic passages that rely on accelerando and decelerando. To keep the unmetered, improvisatory feel to the piece, I chose to use beamed, headless stems that would vary between 1 and 10 centimeters apart.

hand drawing of rhythmic passage from mvt. 1 from Rainpiece

Fig.1. Sample rhythmic passage, from mvt. 1, Rainpiece.

The actual note(s) the performer could choose would appear either on the first stem, or in parenthesis just before the start of the passage. This leads to the concept of notating the air to pitch spectrum (available only in the flute part, for obvious reasons). This notation has appeared in my previous works, including 2022’s Interrupted meditation, 2021’s Strange times in the void Space, 2018’s Remnants of the Veil Nebula, and Juno and the Voyager. It works on multiple instruments, and most performers understand it and can replicate the requested sounds quickly.

hand drawn example of air to pitch notation

Figure 2. Air to pitch notation.

Finally, this score explores multipath modular notation, inspired by Terry Riley’s In C, Earle Brown’s Available forms and Dr. Andrew May’s Wandering through the same dream. This means that rather than employing a fully-linear score, the performer(s) have individual modules that they may choose from. In the trio parts, this means that vertically-displaced boxes show the performer a variety of options they may choose from, when artistically called for. This aids not only in creating an open, adaptable work that invites performers to shape the work, it also frees the performers from a rigid, structured work that might hinder in understanding and working with the electronics.

The electronics for this work have been assembled in the Reaper DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and max/MSP (Now commonly referred to simply as Max). I used Reaper to assemble the fixed-media portions of the work, while my work in Max has taken far more time and research, focusing on granulation. First, I have explored a few formats and models for granulation: the first is a digital instrument I assembled over the last year, using Dr. May’s granular composition tools as a base. With Dr. May’s aid and guidance, I learned how to adapt the granulation tool, meant primarily for pre-recorded sound, into a tool that can granulate live sound. While this granulation tool has served me well, I wished to understand my other options, and see if there exists a granulation tool that would fit my needs better, and provide a more streamlined interface. For that, I tried Chris Poovey’s Grainflow max package. While Chris’s work is well done and worthy of further exploration and analysis in its own right, I have found it far more than what I need for the scope of the project. Most likely, the granulation aspects of this thesis will end up as some mixture of the two levels of complexity, as the granulation is only one aspect of the work. Of course, there are many more aspects of the work to discuss, such as scripting, modularity, and a user-friendly UI (User interface) design, but granulation feeds most directly into the aural world of Rainpiece.

composition work in progress in maxpat program

Figure 3. Work in progress maxpat view.

Aesthetic Decisions

Beyond the practical elements of score and patcher, there is the ultimate question of why. Why explore these subjects in particular? What do I hope to achieve in my thesis? As stated previously, Rainpiece serves as an exploration of the sound world created by various types of water; the specific types include rain, rivers, and springs, with the hope to achieve synthesis between the pre-recorded sound recordings and live instruments. As such, a few concepts have been invaluable to my research. One such notable concept is the ‘Soundscape’ as described by R/ Murray Schafer in his work Our sonic environment and the Soundscape: The tuning of the world. From the Interlude chapter, Murray Schafer notes that “throughout the history of soundmaking, music and the environment have bequeathed numerous effects to one another, and the modern era provides striking examples” (Schafer, 1994, pp. 112). It is clear that synthesizing acoustic instruments and interactive sound is not inherently new, nor are successful results. However, creating a unique soundscape that the audience can both recognize, and see the subjects in a new light, is the goal that I wish to achieve. Thus, using the concept of cross-timbral sounds is key to achieving this goal.

As for the second aspect, where the connections between the original sound and the resulting piece are concerned and the source bonding might be severed, Schafer notes that context is what builds our soundscape, “But when [sounds] are removed from their contexts… they may quickly lose their identities” (Schafer, 1994, pp. 150). While at first this may seem antithetical to the goal of my work, I would instead approach it as another opportunity: with the connections to a sound’s origin weaker, there is room for suggestion. Thus, an audience might be more willing to suspend their disbelief and allow for a heightened experience as the instrumental sounds mingle, contrast, or heighten the original water source sounds.

Narrative is a third aspect of the work I must consider. Throughout my studies with Dr. May, I have learned and discussed with him the implications of a linear structure, and the ways in which I may free the performers of my piece to create their own narrative decisions. Many of these narrative choices will likely come from archetypal narratives of storms and river flows. This will guide the listener’s ear and help them understand what to pay attention to. Ultimately, the sounds created by manipulations of my original water recordings and the sounds created by the live instruments should meld together and create their own world: one that is recognizable, yet invites exploration. It will allow myself, the composer, and the performers the opportunity to create a compelling narrative, and bring the audience a unique experience.

Conclusion

This semester, and indeed the duration of my thesis work thus far, I have explored and studied the acoustic, psychoacoustic, and narrative implication of water and the interactions my field recordings may have with the selected trio of live instruments. To serve these artistic goals, I will continue exploring the timbral relationships between the natural world and the ensemble, as well as learn about granulation, additional forms of sound manipulation, and the ensemble’s interaction with the computer.

References

Brown, E. (1965). Available forms. Assoc. Music Publ.

May, A. (2005). Wandering through the same dream.

Riley, T. (1964). In C. Associated Music Publishers Inc.

Schafer, R. M. (1994). Our sonic environment and the soundscape: The tuning of our world. Inner Traditions International, Limited.

Posted by & filed under Composers, Displays.

Music Reference Librarian Donna Arnold prepared information about Ukrainian performers for a display in the Featured Music Items section at the UNT Music Library. Below is the remote adaptation of this display.

 

Vladimir Horowitz was born in Kyiv in 1903. He began to study at the Kyiv Conservatory in 1912, and gave his first solo recital in Kharkiv in 1920. After the revolution, he emigrated to the West in 1925, where he embarked on his career as a concert pianist and became an international superstar. He remained in the West for the rest of his life, giving hundreds of concerts and making many recordings. As relations improved between Russia and the United States, he returned to Russia and gave a series of legendary concerts in 1986. He died in New York in 1989. 

 

Pianist Vladimir Horowitz

Vladimir Horowitz, Pianist

 



Sviatoslav Richter, 1915-1997 
Born in Zhytomyr, Ukraine to a musical family, he and his family moved to Odessa, Ukraine in 1921, where he received significant early training. In 1937, he moved to Moscow to study piano at the Moscow Conservatory. He spent his entire career in the Soviet Union, and gained an international reputation by the 1950s. Allowed to tour outside of Russia, he made many recordings with famous orchestras in various countries.  

 

Pianist Sviatoslav Richter

Sviatoslav Richter, Pianitst

 



Emil Gilels, 1916-1985, was born in Odessa, Ukraine. In 1929, he was accepted at the Odessa Conservatory and gave his first public concert. In 1936, he began studies at the Moscow Conservatory and won an important musical competition, which brought him wide fame. He stayed in Russia for the rest of his life and had a lengthy, brilliant career as a concert artist, recording artist, and teacher. In 1958 he chaired the jury for the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow which awarded first prize to Van Cliburn.  

 

Pianist Emil Gilels

Emil Gilels, Pianist

 

 



Ivan Kozlovsky, 1900-1993 
This famous tenor was born in Marianivka, Ukraine. He studied in Kyiv and sang operatic roles at Poltava and Kharkiv in the early 1920s. He went on to be a leading lyric tenor at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. He gave many concerts throughout the Soviet Union but was never allowed to tour outside of Russia. Fortunately, many of his recordings are now available. Throughout his career he actively promoted Ukrainian music and made many recordings of it. In 1970, he funded a music school in Marianivka.  

 

Lyric Tenor Ivan Kozlovsky

Ivan Kozlovsky, Lyric Tenor

 



David Oistrakh, 1908-1974 
This famous violinist was born in Odessa, Ukraine and studied at the Odessa Conservatory. In 1927 he made his concert debut in Kyiv. He moved to Moscow that year, where he became a professor at the Moscow Conservatory. He was associated with famous composers such as Shostakovich, Khachaturian, and Prokofiev, and premiered several of their works. Allowed to tour in the West, he achieved widespread international fame.  

 

Violinist David Oistrakh

David Oistrakh, Violinist

Music Reference Librarian Donna Arnold prepared information about Ukrainian composers for a display in the Featured Music Items section at the UNT Music Library. Below is the remote adaptation of this display.

 

Dmitri Bortniansky, b. Hlukhiv, Ukraine, 1751, d. St. Petersburg, Russia, 1825, is the earliest Ukrainian/Russian composer of international renown. Due to his exceptional talent, he was sent to Russia to sing and study when very young, and he eventually became master of the Russian Imperial Court Chapel. This was remarkable, because the court favored Italian musicians at the time. He is most famous for his liturgical works and choral concertos for Orthodox worship. 
 
His Cherubim Hymn no. 7 is a particularly beloved staple of the Orthodox repertoire today. 
M 2072 .B696 K54 no.7 1926  
 
He also composed in many other genres. For example, his opera Alcide (1778) is in Italian style, reflecting his study with Italian masters who served the Russian court. The libretto is by Pietro Metastasio. 
M 1500 .B748 A52 1985

 

Composer Dmitri Bortniansky

Dmitri Bortniansky, Composer

 


 
Mykola Lysenko, b. Hrynky, Ukraine, 1842, d. Kyiv, 1912, was the seminal Ukrainian nationalist composer of the 19th century. He spent his life and career in Ukraine and ardently championed Ukrainian music. He composed in many genres. During his life he was little known outside Ukraine, but this is now changing, and many of his works are being performed in the West. 

These include two major operas: 

Natalka Poltavka (1889), a love story with a happy ending  
M 1503 .L98 N27 1969 

Taras Bulba (1891), set in Kyiv in the 17th century, telling a tragic story of Cossack warfare 
LPZ 64081- 64083   
 
Lysenko composed sacred choral music for Eastern Orthodox worship. This score contains nine of his choral works, set to texts in Ukrainian.  
M 2082 .L97 V5 1993 

Do 50 rokovyn smerti T. Shevchenka: kantata    a secular cantata with texts by Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, 1814-1861 
M 1530 .l97 D6 1994 

Ukrainian suite, op. 2, for piano 
M 24 .L97 op. 2 2006 

 

Composer Mykola Lysenko

Mykola Lysenko, Composer

 



 
Atem Vedel, b. Kyiv 1767, d. there, 1808 
 
This pioneer of Ukrainian/Russian Orthodox choral music studied and was musically active in Kyiv and Moscow. Later he conducted a choir in Kharkiv and wrote most of his choral works there. A change in policy forbidding choral concertos in worship ruined his career and he died tragically. He is now considered one of the greatest masters of Ukrainian Orthodox choral music, and several of his works are staples in Orthodox worship today.  
 
A collection of his works for the Divine Liturgy and his sacred choral concertos was published in Kyiv in 2000. Words are translated to Ukrainian from Church Slavonic.  

M 2100 .V42 C56 2000 
 
[There are no known images of Vedel.] 

 


Composer Mykola Leontovych

Mykola Leontovych, Composer

 

Mykola Leontovych, 1877-1921 
 
Born in the Podolia province of Ukraine, he was strongly influenced by the Ukrainian musical nationalism of Mykola Lysenko and by Ukrainian folk melodies. His choral arrangement of the folk song “Shchedryk” was introduced in the West in 1919 by a touring Ukrainian chorus. In English translation, it became the Christmas standard, “Carol of the Bells.” Tragically, Leontovych was assassinated by a Soviet agent in 1921. 
M 2085 .L46 C37 1936 
 

 



Valentin Sylvestrov, 1937- 
 
Currently Ukraine’s most famous classical composer, he was born in Soviet-controlled Kyiv and was educated at the Kyiv Conservatory. His modernist compositions met with disfavor from Soviet authorities, so he later explored a more conservative style. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he began to compose religious music. 
 
He made the news recently when it was reported that he and his family were attempting to escape from their home in Kiev. They are now safe in Berlin. He later made the news when police in Moscow tried to break up a concert because one of his pieces was on the program.  
 
Understandably, his Prayer for Ukraine (2014), for chorus and orchestra, is now attracting considerable attention. 
M2092.S527 G4 2017 

Composer Valentin Sylvestrov

Valentin Sylvestrov. Composer


Please feel free to share with everyone in the comments below more information about Ukrainian performers who were not discussed in this list.

Posted by & filed under Composers, Displays.

Photos of Ukrainian composers next to a Ukrainian flag in Featured Music Items display

 

Music Reference Librarian Donna Arnold prepared information about Ukrainian composers for a display in the Featured Music Items section at the UNT Music Library. Below is the online adaptation of this display.

Dmitri Bortniansky, b. Hlukhiv, Ukraine, 1751, d. St. Petersburg, Russia, 1825, is the earliest Ukrainian/Russian composer of international renown. Due to his exceptional talent, he was sent to Russia to sing and study when very young, and he eventually became master of the Russian Imperial Court Chapel. This was remarkable, because the court favored Italian musicians at the time. He is most famous for his liturgical works and choral concertos for Orthodox worship. 
 
His Cherubim Hymn no. 7 is a particularly beloved staple of the Orthodox repertoire today. 
M 2072 .B696 K54 no.7 1926  
 
He also composed in many other genres. For example, his opera Alcide (1778) is in Italian style, reflecting his study with Italian masters who served the Russian court. The libretto is by Pietro Metastasio. 
M 1500 .B748 A52 1985

 

Composer Dmitri Bortniansky

Dmitri Bortniansky, Composer

 


 
Mykola Lysenko, b. Hrynky, Ukraine, 1842, d. Kyiv, 1912, was the seminal Ukrainian nationalist composer of the 19th century. He spent his life and career in Ukraine and ardently championed Ukrainian music. He composed in many genres. During his life he was little known outside Ukraine, but this is now changing, and many of his works are being performed in the West. 

These include two major operas: 

Natalka Poltavka (1889), a love story with a happy ending  
M 1503 .L98 N27 1969 

Taras Bulba (1891), set in Kyiv in the 17th century, telling a tragic story of Cossack warfare 
LPZ 64081- 64083   
 
Lysenko composed sacred choral music for Eastern Orthodox worship. This score contains nine of his choral works, set to texts in Ukrainian.  
M 2082 .L97 V5 1993 

Do 50 rokovyn smerti T. Shevchenka: kantata    a secular cantata with texts by Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, 1814-1861 
M 1530 .l97 D6 1994 

Ukrainian suite, op. 2, for piano 
M 24 .L97 op. 2 2006 

 

Composer Mykola Lysenko

Mykola Lysenko, Composer

 



 
Atem Vedel, b. Kyiv 1767, d. there, 1808 
 
This pioneer of Ukrainian/Russian Orthodox choral music studied and was musically active in Kyiv and Moscow. Later he conducted a choir in Kharkiv and wrote most of his choral works there. A change in policy forbidding choral concertos in worship ruined his career and he died tragically. He is now considered one of the greatest masters of Ukrainian Orthodox choral music, and several of his works are staples in Orthodox worship today.  
 
A collection of his works for the Divine Liturgy and his sacred choral concertos was published in Kyiv in 2000. Words are translated to Ukrainian from Church Slavonic.  

M 2100 .V42 C56 2000 
 
[There are no known images of Vedel.] 

 


Composer Mykola Leontovych

Mykola Leontovych, Composer

 

Mykola Leontovych, 1877-1921 
 
Born in the Podolia province of Ukraine, he was strongly influenced by the Ukrainian musical nationalism of Mykola Lysenko and by Ukrainian folk melodies. His choral arrangement of the folk song “Shchedryk” was introduced in the West in 1919 by a touring Ukrainian chorus. In English translation, it became the Christmas standard, “Carol of the Bells.” Tragically, Leontovych was assassinated by a Soviet agent in 1921. 
M 2085 .L46 C37 1936 
 

 



Valentin Sylvestrov, 1937- 
 
Currently Ukraine’s most famous classical composer, he was born in Soviet-controlled Kyiv and was educated at the Kyiv Conservatory. His modernist compositions met with disfavor from Soviet authorities, so he later explored a more conservative style. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he began to compose religious music. 
 
He made the news recently when it was reported that he and his family were attempting to escape from their home in Kiev. They are now safe in Berlin. He later made the news when police in Moscow tried to break up a concert because one of his pieces was on the program.  
 
Understandably, his Prayer for Ukraine (2014), for chorus and orchestra, is now attracting considerable attention. 
M2092.S527 G4 2017 

Composer Valentin Sylvestrov

Valentin Sylvestrov. Composer


Please feel free to share with everyone in the comments below more information about Ukrainian composers or arrangers who were not discussed in this list.

Posted by & filed under Musicking in the Sandborn.

Local Archives, Global History: Post 6 By Matt Darnold

This two-part series will first demonstrate Dr. Helen Hewitt’s commanding place as a woman in musicology, taking a special interest in her time in Paris, which was an integral part of the shaping of the UNT Music Library as it is known today. The second post will chronicle Hewitt’s relationships as a performing organist, and her dedication to UNT’s auditorium organ that almost caused her some legal trouble. Throughout both, one will readily see the lasting impression Hewitt has had on the university and on the field of musicology as a whole. She maintained a number of personal and professional connections across several academic fields and as a result, wielded a degree of influence and reverence that women have not been reflected as having in most histories of academia or musicology as a discipline. Hewitt made a name for herself during American musicology’s early years, and her letters demonstrate that success and her role as a helpful and kind scholar who was a resource to her university and her discipline. 

Dr. Helen Hewitt

Portrait of Dr. Helen Hewitt.

“Dr. Helen Hewitt… is one of the outstanding scholars of the faculty and has made her influence felt far beyond the confines of the School of Music or even of the college. Two years ago she was President of this chapter of AAUP (American Association of University Professors). She has held many offices in our local chapter of AAUW (American Association of University Women). She is the perennial Chairman of the Graduate Music Committee… She has been nominated for presidency of the AMS for this next year.”

This quote from Dean Walter Hodgson to the Vassar College Vocational Bureau comes from the various correspondences found in the University of North Texas Helen Hewitt Paper Collection. It characterizes Hewitt as an influential and involved scholar who even during early years at UNT was making a name for herself both in her department as well as the field of musicology. Hewitt’s robust correspondence reveals that her knowledge and expertise was sought in the field. There are several letters asking her opinion on anything, from doctoral students, whom she had never met, manuscript transcriptions, to personal friends asking for her thoughts on other scholars who were being considered for university positions across the country. 

One correspondence that is particularly telling of Hewitt’s influence took place between herself and Hodgson from Fall 1947 to Summer 1948, which coincided with her Guggenheim Fellowship in Paris. Hewitt, at this time, was just being made a full professor in the School of Music at the North Texas State Teacher’s College, later to be known as the University of North Texas, where she had taught since 1942 while finishing her dissertation. These letters contain a mixture of personal and professional details ranging from concerns about the organ studio and the next year’s course schedule, to her living arrangements in Denton and membership in the French Musicological Society as a “foreign member.” Hodgson and Hewitt seemed to have a warm working relationship. Hodgson turned to her with a number of concerns and ideas. Hewitt wrote in a May 1948 letter that she “never wanted nor sought an administrative position… because [she] dislike[d] making judgments of even the most trifling consequences.” She had no problem, however, voicing her opinion on any and all matters in her letters to Hodgson. In the same letter she voices her concerns about the organ studio’s size, hoping to reduce it from 50 to 10 students. This correspondence is also one of the few in which we have Hewitt’s letters along with those she received, allowing us to recapture some essence of Hewitt’s own voice rather than just those who wrote to her. 

The highlight of Hewitt’s Paris letters is perhaps when Hodgson tasks her with scouring second-hand book stores in Paris for material to fill the school’s expanding Music Library, especially its organ collection. This quickly became a more general search for music, from opera scores to reference material, such as the well-known works of nineteenth-century Belgian musicologist and critic François Fétis. Hewitt seemed to embrace this task hardily, based on the enthusiasm displayed in some of her early letters, or she at least took it on eagerly as a young professor who was still establishing herself in her position at NTSC. A notable amount of money was granted to the Music Library at this time with around $700 eventually being sent to Hewitt in various installments to cover purchasing costs. There are also lists of the materials she acquired and shipped back to north Texas that likely remain in the library to the present. 

Hewitt became weary of this undertaking as time passed. In a March 1948 letter She sent an “S.O.S” in which she strongly tells Hodgson to get his “library committee together,” so she knew what books and scores to secure as she felt “uncertain” in making these decisions herself. She also forwarded a great deal of information on several possible purchases that would in her opinion benefit the library, such as three volumes of Couperin’s Pieces de Clavecin, all the volumes issued by the French Musicological Society, or “the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.” Around April 1948, Hodgson recommended that Dr. Doty of the University of Texas write to Hewitt for “a list of musicological items that NTSC was not going to purchase.” Hewitt showed her frustration to Hodgson in her response to him written on April 13, 1948 in which she chides him for not just crossing off the items of her previous list and sending it to Dr. Doty and says that “he can write them directly if he wants.” Here we find Hewitt in a relatable situation as a person overwhelmed by professional responsibilities while attempting to complete her own research, showing us that although she was a renowned and accomplished researcher and educator and this work helped to advance the school’s music library, academia had a number of challenges and obstacles that we still find today in the way of young scholars. 

Despite these early obstacles, Helen Hewitt was determined to fight for the best possible education for both her musicology and organ students. As an organ professor, she oversaw the maintenance and specifications of the school’s organ even during her research in Paris. In 1947, Hewitt received a phone call from Denton, which at the time was quite an undertaking, concerning the organ in the main auditorium. Hewitt had long indicated the need for a new organ console, and while in Paris, she corresponded with Dean Hodgson to guide the school’s negotiation and approval of a repair contract with the Möller organ company. This project awaited upon her return to Denton and presented many of its own unanticipated challenges for Hewitt as she established herself at NTSU. 

 

Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more research on Hellen Hewitt in the next post by Emma Wimberg. 

 

Citation:

[Dr. Helen Hewitt]photograph19XX; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc977101/accessed April 12, 2022), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.

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Local Archives, Global History: Post 5 by Anna Wodny

Today the University of North Texas Music Library is nationally recognized for its scholarly resources and special collections, but just over eighty years ago the entirety of UNT’s music collection fit inside a single storage closet. The music library’s rapid development may be largely attributed to Anna Harriet Heyer, who became the Southwest’s first full-time music librarian in 1940. Heyer served as the founder and head of the music library until 1965 and actively participated in UNT’s musical activities through the early 1990s. She is often depicted as the “isolated pioneer” of music librarianship because she entered the field in its early stages and worked thousands of miles away from other major music libraries, which were concentrated in the Midwest and along the East Coast (Bradley 2007). In a 1991 oral history interview, Heyer even used this term to describe herself, noting how her location made professional collaboration difficult (Heyer 1991). While Heyer was certainly isolated geographically, framing her life’s work in this way sidelines the rich and varied connections that she fostered locally and nationally throughout her career.
 
I must admit that my own research process began with an isolated mindset, and during my first few visits to the Edna Mae Sandborn Reading Room, where I worked through materials belonging to the Anna Harriet Heyer special collection, I approached her work from the perspective of a solitary individual working more or less alone. My initial objective was to reconstruct Heyer’s process of conceiving, compiling, and publishing her landmark bibliographical work titled Historical Sets, Collected Editions, and Monuments of Music. The more time I spent with the collection, however, the clearer it became that Historical Sets was not the product of an isolated woman on the fringes of her field, but instead a highly collaborative endeavor that included librarians across the globe in sometimes surprisingly personal ways. Following this realization, I became increasingly interested in Heyer’s apparent knack for creating or contributing to communities: at UNT, across her profession, and in her personal life.
 
A large portion of Heyer’s archival collection consists of her prolific correspondence, and while most of her letters are professional, frequent personal touches and informal slips suggest relationships deeper than strictly business acquaintances. For instance, Heyer’s closest liaisons with the American Library Association, Marion Dittman and Pauline Cianciolo, often commented on the weather, asked after projects unrelated to her book, and celebrated Heyer’s success more enthusiastically than one might expect from professional contacts (Image 1).
 
 
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Image 1. Letter from Pauline Cianciolo dated 13 December 1972 (Box 26)

 
In a letter dated April 22nd, 1969, for example, Dittman invokes whooping Valkyries to congratulate Heyer on the upcoming publication of Historical Sets’ second edition (Image 2). Another business contact, Catherine Miller of Columbia University, also developed a personal relationship with Heyer. At one point the two women discussed collaborating on a manual that would help “isolated” librarians acclimate themselves to the profession; ironically, the physical distance separating them prevented this project from coming to fruition. Nevertheless, Heyer and Miller maintained a regular correspondence, discussing personal and professional matters, and occasionally sharing inside opinions about their field (Image 3).
 
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Image 2. Letter from Marion Dittman dated 22 April 1969 (Box 12)

 
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Image 3. Letter from Catherine Miller dated 28 December 1951 (Box 12)

 
Beyond her inner circle, Heyer’s book generated widespread enthusiasm within music libraries across the United States. Historical Sets sought to provide complete bibliographic information for significant publications of single-composer music collections available in North America, Europe, and parts of Asia. Her project quickly developed a sort of fan club, and in addition to the correspondence that Heyer maintained to gather information about libraries’ holdings, she regularly received friendly letters inquiring after the work’s progress. Following publication, many exuberant librarians sent letters of thanks, including a handwritten postcard from Harriet Nicewonger at Berkeley (Image 4). Another librarian, Margaret Lospinuso, wrote that at UNC Chapel Hill they affectionately referred to Historical Sets as simply “Heyer.” Initially, the book was supposed to become a completed project after two editions, but once the second went out of print, Heyer and the American Library Association received such an outpouring of interest for additional copies that Heyer’s publishing contract was renewed for a third and final update.
 
front of the postcard with an image of a flower and its stem, the back of the postcard with writing from Harriet Nicewonger

Image 4. Postcard from Harriet Nicewonger dated 29 June 1969 (Box 11)

 
Heyer’s community connections to UNT also ran deep, and her library colleagues clearly valued her for more than her professional competencies. For many years, Heyer was the face of the music library, and her skillful guidance in its formative years paved the way for its present-day success. It is therefore no coincidence that events celebrating the music library’s twenty-five year anniversary overlapped with events honoring Heyer’s retirement. Within the Heyer collection, it is sometimes difficult to tell which items are tied to general library events and which pertain specifically to Heyer’s career—the two were practically inseparable in the minds of the UNT music community. Unquestionably the most memorable item that I came across during my research, a custom, Mardi-gras-esque bracelet commemorates Heyer’s years of service and the music library’s active years (Image 5). The engraving on the back of the pendant reads: “Music Librarian, NTSU, 1940–1965.” Although the quality and age of the accompanying photographs make it difficult to tell for certain, I believe that this picture, taken in 1965 at Heyer’s retirement luncheon, captures the moment of the gift’s exchange (Image 6). Following her retirement from UNT, Heyer relocated to Fort Worth but continued her library work by assisting Texas Christian University, her Alma Mater, with its music collection development, much as she had done for UNT. 
 
 
a gold chain bracelet with a large golden pendant with the number 25 and accented with red gems

Image 5. Bracelet commemorating Heyer’s twenty-five years as NTSU’s music librarian, 1965 (Box 12)

 
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Image 6. Photograph of Heyer taken at her retirement luncheon, possibly accepting the bracelet, 1965 (Box 12)

 
Despite several decades of absence, in 1990 Heyer was again called to serve the UNT music library leading up to its fiftieth anniversary celebration. She wrote a history of the library that appeared in a special fiftieth anniversary booklet, and judging from the numerous outlines found among her papers, she was very involved in curating the exhibits that showcased the library’s holdings (Image 7). As with the twenty-five year anniversary celebrations , Heyer’s name was front and center, even appearing above the library’s on invitations (Image 8).
 
 
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Image 7. Several pages from Heyer’s fiftieth anniversary curation planning, undated (Box 22)

 
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Image 8. Cover and inside of UNT’s fiftieth anniversary reception invitations, 1991 (Box 22)

 
While many of Heyer’s friendships stemmed from professional connections, she also found time to maintain outside interests. She was an avid hand weaver and an active member of the Contemporary Hand Weavers of Texas Association, even serving as their vice president for several years. Perhaps her most tangible contribution to this community was the Index that she complied in 1962. It served as a guide to all articles printed in the Contemporary Hand Weavers’ newsletters between 1949 and 1961, its intent being to help new members quickly locate information relevant to their specific interests (Image 9). The guide’s formatting resembles the second edition of Historical Sets, which Heyer worked on concurrently. In this way, a touch of the professional crossed over to the personal (Image 10).
 
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Image 9. Cover and page 1 of Heyer’s Contemporary Hand Weavers of Texas Newsletter Index, 1962 (Box 10)

 
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Image 10. Page 7 of Historical Sets, Collected Editions, and Monuments of Music, Second Edition (Heyer, 1969)

 
“Isolated Pioneer” may be a fitting title for Anna Harriet Heyer in some contexts, but it does not adequately summarize the profound impact of her life and work. Despite the distance, Heyer connected many librarians across the country as she worked to increase knowledge and circulation of musical materials. Whether local or national, Heyer was an integral and beloved member of many communities, sometimes blurring the line between personal and professional commitments. Heyer’s thoughtful attention to individuals and dedication to realizing group goals are the threads that connect each of her relationships, demonstrating that her strength was truly one of numbers.

Reference List

Bradley, Carol June. 2007 “Anna Harriet Heyer, An Isolated Pioneer.” Notes 63, no. 4 (June): 798–809.
 
Heyer, Anna Harriet. 1969. Historical Sets, Collected Editions and Monuments of Music: A Guide to Their Contents. 2nd ed. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
 
Heyer, Anna Harriet. 1991. Interview with Richard Dickey. November 30, 1991. Transcript. University of North Texas Oral History Collection. University of North Texas at Denton, Texas.

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Local Archives, Global History: Post 4 by Chandler Hall 

Many famed musicians have passed through the music program at the University of North Texas (UNT), but has anyone ever heard of UNT’s accountant-to-organist pipeline? One alumnus who came down it was Robert R. Miller, who graduated from what was then the North Texas State College (NTSC) in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Boxes in UNT Library’s small Robert R. Miller Collection reveal his unique career path: accountant by day and organ consultant and substitute organist by night—or by Sunday. Miller may have been the only accountant-organist in the area at the time, but he was far from the only organ consultant in the Metroplex. For instance, famed musicologist and organist Helen Hewitt supervised the renovation of the Möller Organ in the UNT Main Auditorium, and Robert Anderson, Chair of Organ Studies at Southern Methodist University, acted as consultant on several organs, including St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Mesquite and First Presbyterian Church in Dallas. How could Miller hope to compete with these pedigreed, well-known, and highly credentialed figures? His archival traces offer some clues.  

In an urban area chock-full of professional musicians with enough degrees to fill a stadium, Miller spun his amateur status as an asset. By positioning himself outside of institutions, he demonstrated to his clients that he was above the politics of the organ world, independent and unable to be bought. His integrity became his selling-point. By focusing on his character, Miller was able to skirt around the subject of his credentials (see figures 1-4).  

the cover page of recital program with organ imagerythe inside of the program listing the music that'll be played at the recitala list of the contributors to the organ concert in the programWritten list of specifications by organ type

Figures 1-4: 1986 Recital program for the dedication of the restored 1925 Kimball Organ at Grace United Methodist Church, Dallas. Miller was the organ consultant for this project (box 1, folder 11).   

Take, for instance, this response to a 1951 letter in which a woman asked for advice about her church’s organ. In the letter, Miller reaffirms that if he were hired as a consultant, he would ensure that the church receives a well-designed organ. He goes on to cite his non-musical career and his independence from builders as assets: 

“Yes, I am an Organ Consultant. This type of work is in addition to my regular work at the Magnolia Petroleum Company. As you can well realize, one could not hope to make alliving [sic] at this sort of thing since the calls are few and far between. The reason I do it is that as an organist and a great lover of the organ, I want to help churches obtain the most and best for the money they have to spend… I know of several instances where a church might of [sic] had a better organ if someone that knew about such matters had been called in to go over the plans, rather than just let an organ man or company rebuild the organ as it was.” 

In this letter, Miller glosses over his qualifications. By claiming to know of “several instances” in which a church would have benefitted from a consultant, he comes across as knowledgeable without needing to acknowledge his relative lack of formal training. Additionally, by mentioning that consulting is not his main career, Miller implies that he is not in the pockets of any business that would incentivize him to deliver an inferior product. According to Miller, his supposed interest was the church, not the industry. 

Miller's business card from Tellers Organ Company

Figure 5: Miller’s business card from Tellers Organ Company (box 1, folder 18).

Of course, one does not need certain formal credentials to be proficient in an area of expertise; earning a music degree is not the only way to learn music. Although Miller did take some organ coursework at NTSC, he also took lessons before college, played substitute organ at various churches around the Dallas area, and had a (possibly brief) stint as the Southwest Representative for the Tellers Organ Company based in Erie, Pennsylvania.

A list of Miller's organ consultant duties he outlined to his letter to Rabbi Annes

Figure 6: Miller’s duties as an organ consultant as outlined in his letter to Rabbi Annes (box 1, folder 15).

These experiences certainly helped Miller gain expertise regarding how various organs function and sound. Another 1951 letter to Rabbi Pierce Annes of Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, offers further insights into how Miller may have trained as an amateur consultant. In the letter, Miller writes that part of his service as a consultant includes creating tonal schemes (the list of pipe sounds to be used in the organ) and sending them to several organ companies to obtain quotes. Some of these tonal schemes and quotes survive in the collection. In some, a company representative offers Miller suggestions to improve his submission. Other documents in the archive, such as catalogs, design guides, marketing materials, and tonal schemes from hundreds of organs, likely served as reference materials for Miller as he planned projects for his clients. Even as Miller professed his independence from builders in his private correspondence, he clearly relied on them as part of his training.  

Miller’s attitude toward institutions was quite different when his audience was public facing. For instance, a worship bulletin at First Presbyterian Church, McKeesport, Pennsylvania, includes a brief biography of Miller’s organ career. This is the church where Miller grew up, and he played substitute organ there just before Christmas 1962, perhaps while visiting family for the holidays. Although it is unclear whether the biography of Miller was written by him or by someone on his behalf, it emphasizes his accreditation as tied to institutions, including NTSU and the American Guild of Organists (AGO). It is not unusual for biographies such as this to list a performer’s musical pedigree and awards, but Miller’s sole accolade by 1962, a “Service Playing Certificate” issued by AGO, is neither particularly impressive nor necessary, considering that the congregation could judge his skill. Rather, the biography is a testament to Miller’s status as a professional on the periphery. By engaging with rhetorical conventions of the profession, Miller attempted to “fit in” as a bona fide musician despite struggling to fill the template. This is not to suggest that a musician needs a music degree or prestigious awards. Rather, the biography highlights the disparity between Miller’s training and what the field and the public expected. 

This disparity is at the fore in a 1977 report on the NTSU Möller Organ. Miller compiled the report but concluded it with a reflection on his own qualifications: “Some may wonder why a B.B.A. graduate of N.T.S.U. is writing the survey of the organ instead of a music student or graduate.” Indeed, Miller’s path is curious. His parallel work in accounting, organ consulting, and organ performance forms an unlikely combination, and he capitalized on thwarted professional expectations to brand his identity. 

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Sketch of Willie Nelson flying in a shoe

Local Archives, Global History: Post 3 by Robbie Segars  

By the early 1960s, the Country Music Association decided to shed its negative “hillbilly” image and market country music to a sophisticated blue-collared audience (Pecknold 2007, 135). This initiative caused a cultural shift in the genre aimed at promoting a clean-cut image. By the early 1970s, however, a subculture emerged that opposed this polished and commercialized Nashville sound (Cobb 1982, 87). This style of country music went by the prefix “outlaw” in reference to song themes based on criminal activities such as lying, stealing, cheating, and substance abuse. Among the leaders to spearhead this movement were songwriters Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Willie Nelson, to name just a few. During this era, Willie Nelson’s image underwent a drastic change starting with the release of his first “outlaw” album, Shotgun Willie (1973). As his fame skyrocketed, Nelson became known for his outlaw compilation albums and annual music festivals, including the ongoing summer concert, Willie’s Fourth of July Picnic. During these years, Willie Nelson hired Steve Brooks as his primary artist for promotional works. The Steve Brooks collection housed at the UNT Special Collections archives provides a glimpse into an extraordinary historical moment in country music. This collection offers a unique perspective on how one outlaw country artist both drew from and resisted country music tropes.  

The basis for my archival project was to explore the artwork done by UNT alum Steve Brooks. This collection contains a broad assortment of art ranging from sketches, handbills, posters, t-shirts, and a few miscellaneous items like plastic cups, matchbooks, and an odd-looking cardboard shoe. While I consulted a diverse selection from Brook’s other clients, I focused specifically on his Willie Nelson art. I wondered what these archives could tell us about the state of country music at the specific historical moment in which Brooks worked. Who was the intended audience? By trying to understand the purpose of these artifacts, I hoped to glean a few possible motivations that guided their creation. Over the last several weeks, I searched through the Steve Brooks collection to see whether I could detect reoccurring themes with the hope that I might start a conversation about their historical relevance.     

The first box I opened from the archives contained approximately fifty manila folders, roughly 12 x 10 inches in size, with sketches that ranged from the early 1970s to the early 1980s. Based on the drawings from this box, which were consistent throughout this collection, Brooks could best be classified as a cartoonist with a few pieces that resembled realistic portraits. The first folder had a Willie Nelson caricature holding his famous nylon-stringed guitar wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes, as seen in figure 1.  

Two Willie Nelson figures as ketches, one with guitar

Figure 1. Steve Brooks Collection, Box 5, Folder 1, “Cowboy Willie,” Sketch, undated.

He sported a thick bushy beard, long shaggy hair, beady eyes, and a wide, friendly grin. Next to his name read “Cowboy Willie” in a cursive font designed to look like a cactus. A few folders later, another Nelson cartoon appeared (figure 2) with a similarly bearded smile, but with the addition of a headband holding back his braided hair.

Sketch of Willie Nelson head with lasso text spelled out as Willie

Figure 2. Steve Brooks Collection, Box 5, Folder 4, “Rope Letter, Willie with Character,” undated.

The “Willie” logo in this picture was written with a lasso and presumably two Texas stars to dot the lowercase I’s. The first themes I noticed appeared to be based on wild west cowboy tropes such as lassos, cactuses, cow skulls, and boot spurs. 

While these associations with country music were somewhat common, there were apparent differences that clashed with previous generations’ straight-laced style worn by Buck Owens, Hank Williams, Bob Wills, and even Willie Nelson himself.

Sketch of Willie Nelson with a large hat

Figure 3. Steve Brooks Collection, Box 5, Folder 37, “Willie for ’75,” 1975.

By the 1970s, Nelson’s identity had more in common with the hippie counterculture of the 1960s. The outlaw country version that Brooks captured in his caricatures emphasized Nelson’s rejection of clean-cut country values (figure 3). His long braided, scruffy beard, worn-out t-shirts, jeans, and tennis shoes contrasted starkly with the crewcut, freshly shaven, collared-shirt cowboy image he had formerly sported. His carefree facial expressions were another feature that struck me as thematic. Indeed, early country music stars almost always smiled. It occurred to me that Willie Nelson’s smile in the Brooks caricatures might be drug-induced (see figure 4).

Sketch studies of logos for Willie Nelson

Figure 4. Steve Brooks Collection, Box 7, Folder 13, “Premium Willie Music in Wichita Falls, Texas – Sketch Studies,” 9-15-1978.

By the 1970s, Nelson made his affection for drugs, especially marijuana, well known to his fans—a reputation he still carries today (Patoski, 2008). It is plausible that Brooks emphasized this side of Nelson’s personality to appeal to his outlaw country audience. Even his choice to use cartoons undercuts the sophisticated image that mainstream country aimed to instill. Aside from one or two still-life drawings—among the select few where Nelson is not smiling—cartoons dominated this collection, like in figure 5.

Sketch of Willie Nelson flying in a shoe

Figure 5. Steve Brooks Collection, Box 5, Folder 113, “Air Willie – Sketch,” 1981-1982.

For comparison purposes, I consulted a few boxes with flyers for Brooks’ other high-profile clients including the Allman Brothers, the Beach Boys, Elton John, Alice Cooper, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, and the Eagles. From these samples, I was surprised that none of them had cartoon depictions of the musicians. Some had only band logos with a photograph, while others contained a few life-like drawings similar to those from the Willie Nelson collection (figures 6-8). 

Cover art sketched in green ink for Jethro Tull

Figure 6. Steve Brooks Collection, Box 2, Folder 41, “Jethro Tull – Dallas Memorial Arboretum,” 6-18-1972.

Sketched cover art for the band Pink Floyd drawn with sketches of band members in red ink

Figure 7. Steve Brooks Collection, Box 2, Folder 46, “Pink Floyd – SMU McFarlin Auditorium,” 9-10-1972.

Drawing of Willie nelson in black and white. Image states Willie Nelson and family.

Figure 8. Steve Brooks Collection, Box 5, Folder 12, “Willie Nelson and Family Sportatorium,” 1-15-1980

The date on the outside of the folders showed that these pieces originated from 1972 to 1975, the same time period when Brooks worked with Willie Nelson. This detail reaffirmed my suspicion that the Willie Nelson art expressed cultural values and ideologies meant for a specific audience. 

After learning about country music’s history in conjunction with events from Willie Nelson’s life, I began to see Brooks’ art in a new light. My goal was never to discover a missing piece of popular music history; rather, I wanted to provide some insight into how country music’s cultural values started to change in the 1970s. More importantly, I wanted to learn how Steve Brooks reflected these changes with art that would still resonate with Willie Nelson fans as they gather for his annual Fourth of July Picnic each year. While working with the Steve Brooks archives, I was unable to glean how much artistic freedom he had for these commissions. However, the sheer size of this collection convinced me that his clients must have felt he had an innate gift for accurately capturing their musical identity with his drawings.

Bibliography

Cobb, James C. 1982. “From Muskogee to Luckenbach: Country Music and the ‘Southernization’ of America.” Journal of Popular Culture (16-3): 81-91.

Nelson, Willie. 2015. It’s a Long Story: My Life. New York City: Little, Brown, and Company.

Patoski, Joe Nick. 2008. Willie Nelson: An Epic Life. New York City: Little, Brown, and Company.

Pecknold, Diane. 2007. “Masses to Classes: The Country Music Association and the Development of Country Format Radio, 1958-1972.” in The Selling Sound: The Rise of the Country Music Industry, 133-167. Durham: Duke University Press. 

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Local Archives, Global History: Post 2 by Camila Zimmerman

 

 

picture of the Regina Music Box

Figure 1. The Regina Music Box in the UNT Collection is a 15 ½″ music box made out of oak. The box was made in 1907 and somehow made its way to the home of Whit Ozier (1919-2004) before being gifted to UNT.

 

overhead view of the two combs and arm of the Regina Music Box

Figure 2. Overhead view of the two combs and arm of the Regina Music Box in the UNT Collection. 

 

Figure 3. Side view of the arm, star wheel and combs of the Regina Music Box in the UNT Collection.

 

overhead view of a tune disc of the song Freishutz

Figure 4. Freischutz, Prayer tune disc from UNT Collection. There are 46 tune discs in this collection. The discs faces vary. Some bear only the title of the song and its patent, while others portray Regina’s trademark and images. Due to use, some marks have been worn away from the discs. 

 

overhead view of a tune disc of Gounod, Flower Song

Figure 5. Gounod, Flower Song tune disc from UNT Collection. 

Music boxes are charming devices that play some of our favorite tunes. Perhaps they remind us of an event in our past or recall the person who gave it to us. But music boxes are more than just entertainment or a vessel for personal memories. Each box has its own special origin story and history, which inspire many different types of questions, even scholarly ones. My first question for the UNT Regina Music box was simple: how do I make it play?! After extensive research and multiple correspondences with Alan Bies from the Musical Box Society International (MBSI), I finally heard a full, rich sound emanate from the box unlike any other music box I had ever experienced. Once I overcame this basic obstacle, I began to make more inquiries. My focus soon turned to the listening cultures surrounding these instruments, concentrating on the people to whom the Regina Music Box Company sold their products. To whom was the Regina Music Box Company catering? How did those consumers relate (if at all!) to the types of song discs that the company sold? Regina music boxes originated in Europe and later came to America, so their discs offer a rare glimpse into the changing listening cultures of domestic audiences in Europe and America at the turn of the twentieth century.  

a black and white photo of Gustav Brackhausen

Figure 6. Image of Gustav Brackhausen (Al Meekins Collection, Photos, The Meekins Antique Regina Music Box Company, Zephyrhillis, FL, https://antiquemusicboxes.com/wood.html).

 

a black and white photo of the Regina Music Box Factory from a wide perspective

Figure 7. Image of the Regina Music Box Factory (Al Meekins Collection, Photos, The Meekins Antique Regina Music Box Company, Zephyrhillis, FL, https://antiquemusicboxes.com/wood.html). 

Music boxes and other mechanical instruments have existed for centuries, but the disc musical box did not come to prominence until Paul Lochmann began selling them in Germany in 1886. Soon thereafter many rivaling companies emerged throughout Europe (Tallis 1971, 52-53). An employee of the Symphonion Company in Leipzig, Gustave Brackhausen, saw how successful the disc musical boxes were and decided to bring them to the American market. In 1892, Brackhausen left Germany to start the Regina Company in Jersey City, New Jersey. Once there, he first produced the 15 ½ inch Regina music box which was based on the Polyphon model so that the 15 ½ inch Polyphon tune discs could be used for the Reginas. However, he no longer wanted to rely on European companies for his disc supply. His solution was to have his company make their own discs. He brought Octave Chaillet, a Swiss disc master, to the States to create new discs that featured popular American styles like spirituals and Souza marches to add onto the preexistent European repertoire (Tallis 1971, 52-55). The company was successful, holding 80-90% of the American market from 1892 until 1919 (Gallo 2001, 4). They ultimately created many different types of musical boxes such as the Reginaphone, Regina piano player, Regina Corona, and the Regina Automatic Concerto. 

a 1904 Trade Music Review advertisment for different types of Regina boxes

Figure 8. Advertisement for different types of Regina boxes from the 1904 Music Trade Review (Music Trade Review, Magazine, 1904, The International Arcade Museum, https://mtr.arcade-museum.com.) 

Regina music box advertisements from 1895 to 1905 reveal that the company catered to wealthy white people who either had a family or liked to entertain in their homes. Figure 9 through 11 depict well-dressed men and women socializing. Figure 9 contains many men in tuxedos and women in ball gowns dancing to the sounds of a Regina music box in a lavish salon. The image on the right of figure 10 also depicts a similar scene although in a simpler imagery with the short text of “plays for Afternoon Reception or for Evening Dancing.” The image on the left implies wealth in a different sort of way. A couple lounges on their boat as they listen to their Regina. Figure 11 portrays multiple scenes, some similar to figure 9 and 10 and some different. In the top right corner is once again an image of a well-dressed man and woman dancing and in the bottom left corner is a couple on their boat. This advertisement, however, features more familial images as well. The middle image on the left specifically references Christmas time offering the Regina as the perfect Christmas gift. On the bottom right, children appear in the image dancing to the music of the Regina music box while adults in fine clothing sit by and watch. The middle left image features a woman holding a baby reaching towards the music box with the heading, “even the baby finds entertainment in the Regina music box.” These advertisements indicate the Regina Company’s aspirational customers and anticipated the types of environments and events in which their customers might use the Regina.  

A Century Magazine advertisement for Regina Music Box from the December 1895 Issue

Figure 9. Advertisement for Regina Music Box from Century Magazine December 1895 Issue (The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, The Regina music box, 1895, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, New York Public Library Digital Collections, https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-1d71-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99).

 

A 1902 Trade Music Review advertisement for the Regina Music Box

Figure 10. Advertisement for Regina Music Box from Music Trade Review 1902 (Music Trade Review, Magazine, 1902, The International Arcade Museum, https://mtr.arcade-museum.com). 

 

A 1896 Trade Music Review advertisement for the Regina Music Box

Figure 11. Advertisement for Regina Music Box from Music Trade Review 1896 (Music Trade Review, Magazine, 1896, The International Arcade Museum, https://mtr.arcade-museum.com). 

The texts of these advertisements emphasize the quality of the music box: it plays over 1,000 tunes, has indestructible discs and a brilliance and richness of tone, is easy to use, and does not require tuning. One other element that is pointed out is the tunes themselves. Some mention a few popular titles or composers, but most of the advertisements say something like “plays all your favorite music both classic and popular,” or “all the latest music.” Figure 12 provides more detail than the others assuring listeners that, “The Regina Music Box makers keep right abreast of the composers who are continuously writing all kinds of popular music— ‘rag time’ if you want it. And they have provided tune-discs…of all the best music of all composers of all times—the great master-pieces of the Masters.” 

A 1905 Trade Music advertisement for the Regina Music Box

Figure 12. Advertisement for Regina Music Box from Music Trade Review 1905 (Music Trade Review, Magazine, 1896, The International Arcade Museum, https://mtr.arcade-museum.com). 

As is evident in the advertisements, popular music and the most recent tunes were emphasized, meaning these were the types of tune discs people in America were buying. A comparison between the genres found in the UNT tune disc Collection and those housed in the National Museum of American History’s collection1 and музея cобрание (Russian Museum Collection)2 shows a clear trend. In the collections from the United States, the number of discs based on American musical genres outnumbers the disc with European musical genres, while in the European collection, European derived music appears much more numerous than American music.  

A bar graph comparing the number of European and American music forms found in the tune disc collections from the UNT Collection, the National Museum of American History and the Russian Museum Collection  

Figure 13. Table comparing the number of European and American music forms found in the tune disc collections from the UNT Collection, the National Museum of American History and the Russian Museum Collection.  

However, the divide between European and American genres in both of the American collections (a two disc difference in the first and a six disc difference in the second) do not have the same disparity as the European collection which has an 86-disc gap. Breaking down these numbers further into specific genres provides a better idea of what exactly constitutes part of these American4 and European5 genres. In the American collections, American folk and popular songs outnumber the other categories. European dance music, however, far exceeds all other genre categories in the Russian collection. From this data, I speculate that American consumers very much enjoyed and potentially preferred new American popular genres even as they clung to the fashion and tradition of their European ancestry, while European music box customers preferred their own genres to the American ones.  

A bar graph comparing tune disc genres found in the tune disc collections from the UNT Collection, the National Museum of American History and the Russian Museum Collection 

Figure 14. Table comparing tune disc genres found in the tune disc collections from the UNT Collection, the National Museum of American History and the Russian Museum Collection. 

While these findings are based on a very limited pool of data, they offer a preliminary look at trends in the types of music consumed through this medium from the 1890s-1920s. Music boxes have a long and complex history that can offer us a glimpse into listening practices of the past, the technical aspects of mechanical instruments, musical preferences, the art of arrangement, and much more. Perhaps this will inspire you to pull out an old music box and see what types of stories it can tell! 

 

Bibliography  

Special thanks to the Musical Box Society International (MBSI) for all of their help.

Collections:  

Al Meekins Collection. Photos. The Meekins Antique Regina Music Box Company. Zephyrhillis, FL. Accessed April 9, 2021. https://antiquemusicboxes.com/wood.html.  

Metal Discs Collection. Music box discs. музея cобрание, Moscow, Russia.  

Music and Musical Instruments Collection. Music box discs. National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.  

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “The Regina music box.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 9, 2021. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-1d71-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.  

Regina Music Box Records Collection. Regina music box and discs. University of North Texas Library, Denton, TX.  

Music Trade Review. Magazine. The International Arcade Museum. Accessed April 9, 2021. https://mtr.arcade-museum.com.  

 

Secondary Source:  

Birch, John. “Reginaphone & Regina Hall Clock.” Mechanical Music 53, no. 1 (January 2007): 17–18.  

Boehck, Steve. “The Rare and Elusive Regina Musical Savings Bank.” Mechanical Music 53, no. 4 (July 2007): 12–25. 

Boehck, Steve. “The Regina Musical Salesman.” Mechanical Music 58, no. 6 (November 2012): 8–23. 

Carli, Philip C. “”You Will Certainly Have Something that Will Give Great Pleasure, and Be a Marvel in Pittsburgh”: Henry Clay Frick and American Millionaires Living with Mechanical Music, 1872-1919.” American Music 32, no. 4 (Winter 2014): 377-399. 

Chapuis, Alfred. History of the Musical Box and of Mechanical Music. Summit, N.J.: Musical Box Society International, 1980. 

Clark, John E. T. Musical Boxes; A History and an Appreciation. London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1961. 

Gallo, Denise P. “Verdi’s Music on Mechanical Boxes.” Verdi Forum, no. 28–29 (2001-2002): 4–7.  

Karp, Larry. “Regina and Ragtime.” Mechanical Music 59, no. 2 (March 2013): 28–35. 

Tallis, David. Musical Boxes. London: Muller, 1971. 

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