Scope and arrangement
The Charles Turner papers contain scores, sketches and notes, libretti, correspondence, diaries, photographs, programs, scrapbooks, yearbooks, clippings, posters, and sound recordings documenting Turner's life and career as a violinist, composer and pedagogue. Scores and sketches, mostly unpublished, constitute over half of the collection. The correspondence contains letters from his colleagues and friends, including Samuel Barber, Noël Lee, Gian Carlo Menotti, and Ned Rorem, as well as from students and family. The scores hold Turner's marked-up copy of the violin part for Barber's Violin Concerto, performed under Barber's direction; and Turner's music, including the sketch for his orchestral piece Encounter; his ballet Pastorale and its re-orchestrations, and the orchestral work The Marriage of Orpheus.
The collection also contains unique audio recordings of Turner's music. The recordings hold four tape cassettes and a vinyl disc of various versions of Pastorale; two tape cassettes of Turner's Cello Sonata; an open reel tape of the 1969 performance of The Ballad of Barnaby; a vinyl demonstration disc of the songs In Youth And May and Un Jour Vendu Dire Printemps; four vinyl discs containing Turner violin performances; two vinyl discs and an open reel tape containing a 1966 performance of The Marriage of Orpheus; six vinyl discs of a performance of Encounter by the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell; an open reel tape of songs by Turner; and nine identically-labeled vinyl discs of a chamber group featuring Turner on piano.
Further contents include four cassette tapes of music by Samuel Barber, likely published; a cassette tape of a BBC program on Barber; one cassette tape of the music of Phillip Ramey; one cassette tape labeled "student compositions;" a vinyl disc titled "A Choral Concert," contents unknown; and four unlabeled vinyl discs; three unlabeled open reel tapes; and one unlabeled tape cassette.
Inquiries regarding audio materials in the collection may be directed to the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound (firstname.lastname@example.org). Audio materials will be subject to preservation evaluation and migration prior to access.
The Charles Turner papers are arranged in two series:
- 1921-200310 boxes
This series holds correspondence, photographs, concert programs, scrapbooks, diaries, datebooks, an address book, clippings, teaching material, writings, drawings, posters, official records, and information on Turner's family history.
The correspondence is with Turner's friends, colleagues and family. It includes letters from the composers Samuel Barber, Noël Lee, Gian Carlo Menotti, Ned Rorem, John Corigliano, Stanley Hollingsworth, George Perle, Virgil Thomson, and David Diamond; the British historian Sir Steven Runciman; the musicologist Howard Pollack; the author William Styron; the poet W.H. Auden; and Turner's publisher G. Schirmer, Inc. Of these names, Barber, Lee, Menotti, Rorem and Runciman have the most content. The correspondence from Barber includes a 1981 letter from Barber's estate regarding the bequest he left to Turner, as well as letters to Barber from other parties. The letters from Turner consist primarily of correspondence to and from his parents.
The photographs consist mostly of small black and white snapshots, though there are larger images as well (there is also a folder of black and white negatives). The larger images include portraits of Turner and Samuel Barber. The Barber folder holds pictures of Barber and Turner together in the 1950s. The general photos of Turner are mostly informal and date from his childhood to the 1960s, often showing him with friends and lovers. Later images are in color. The photos with unidentified subjects may feature Turner as well.
The concert programs are thorough and date from throughout Turner's life, from his first public performances at age seven to a 1989 performance of Pastorale. The scrapbooks, containing clippings and photographs, document Turner's early career (1933 to 1943), and a trip to Italy in 1962. The loose clippings are more inclusive, dating from 1934 to 1969. The clippings file also contains Turner's resume, ca. 1978.
Turner's teaching material holds his notes and exams on music history, cello and violin studies, and composition exercises. His writings contain autobiographical essays; a libretto by John Van Meter for an opera called Dracula (possibly intended for music by Turner); an essay about Turner's piece The Ballad of Barnaby; an essay on Turner's year in Italy as an exchange fellow in 1955; poetry; and the typescript of a chapter (author unknown) of a book about Samuel Barber discussing the opera Antony and Cleopatra. The typescript has Turner's notes and corrections. Turner's diaries are fragmentary do not document his life in great detail.
The official records consist of school transcripts, Navy records, and Turner's passport.
The drawings are presumably by Turner, but they also contain a published book of drawings by Rob Tobin, inscribed by the artist to Turner. The posters advertise Turner's performances of Barber's Violin Concerto, his appearances at the Spoleto Festival in Italy, and the New York City Ballet's performances of Pastorale.
- 1948-19839 boxes
This series contains sketches, score manuscripts and parts, and publishing proofs and final published versions of Turner's music. It also holds a small portion of score manuscripts by Turner's colleagues and students.
The pieces by Turner with the most content are The Marriage of Orpheus, an orchestral work, and Pastorale, an orchestral ballet which he later arranged for other instrumentations, and renamed Dark Pastorale. Other compositions in the series include Encounter (in sketch form); piano pieces; songs for voice and piano spanning Turner's career; early chamber music and songs from the 1940s; an unfinished opera called Titanic; Pathetique, an undated orchestral piece; and untitled sketches. Most of Turner's scores are undated. The Christmas Carols are Turner's arrangements of traditional carols, and also include Turner's notes on how to write them.
Scores by other composers consist of the published violin part for Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto (marked up by Turner and used in preparation for his performances with Barber conducting); Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, with different text written in by Turner; Patrick Douglas-Hamilton's True Thomas, an opera performed on the same program with Turner's The Ballad of Barnaby at St. Mary's Parish Church, Haddington, England in 1969 (see program in Series I); and a manuscript of Stanley Hollingsworth's Sonata for Flute and Piano.
The student scores are all by pupils of Turner from the Wykeham Rise School in Washington, Connecticut, written ca. 1968-1969. Most are choral pieces.