Scope and arrangement
The New York Pro Musica Records document the performance and administrative activities of the New York Pro Musica, an American ensemble dedicated to the performance of medieval and Renaissance music. The records span the years 1952-1988, covering Pro Musica’s entire period of activity from 1952-1974. The records are primarily administrative in nature; few scores or other types of production material can be found in the collection. Photographs, programs, clippings, and reviews do, however, provide documentation of Pro Musica performances. As a whole the collection is a valuable resource for researchers interested in not only Pro Musica’s artistic achievements, but also the development and administration of a performing arts organization in the mid- to late twentieth century.
The collection has been divided into thirteen series. Researchers should note that, due to Pro Musica’s organizational schemes, there is a good deal of overlap among some of the series.
The New York Pro Musica records are arranged in thirteen series:
The Board of Directors Documents series consists of approximately 2.25 linear feet of material divided into several subseries. Four subseries consist of files maintained by individual members of Pro Musica’s board of directors: founder and musical director Noah Greenberg, Richard French, who served as president of New York Pro Musica from 1961-1981, Ruth Leach and Carl Miller. The subseries consisting of board of directors meeting minutes, reports, correspondence and memos, and other miscellaneous documents are also present.
The Greenberg subseries dates from the early 1950s to just prior to Greenberg’s death in 1966, and includes a small amount of biographical material, as well as correspondence and other material documenting Greenberg’s activities within Pro Musica. The material is more closely related to Greenberg himself, rather than to New York Pro Musica as an organization; groupings include material related to Greenberg lectures, organizations to which Greenberg belonged, and requests for articles and the use of Greenberg’s name. Researchers should note that, due to his prominent role in the organization, Greenberg correspondence can be found in the Correspondence series, as well as other series throughout the collection. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by subject.
The Richard French Files subseries consists primarily of material created in the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. In contrast to the personal nature of the Greenberg subseries, much of the French material centers on the administrative business of Pro Musica, such as the effort to find a replacement for Greenberg after his death in 1966. Also of note is a thesis written by Sarah Jane Gaskill on the history of New York Pro Musica.
The Ruth Leach subseries is a small subseries consisting mainly of correspondence. The highlights of the Carl Miller subseries are drafts of text, drawings, and sketches for programs of Pro Musica performances.
The Board of Directors Documents series also includes meeting minutes, dating from 1953 to 1988, as well as correspondence, reports, and by-laws, which document the inner workings and decision making processes of the Pro Musica Board. Meeting minutes, correspondence and reports are arranged chronologically.
The Correspondence series consists of 2.75 linear feet of material, arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Significant correspondents include Lincoln Kirstein, and Pro Musica musical directors John White and George Houle. Although most of the correspondence centers on the business and administration of Pro Musica, the series does include several folders of correspondence between Greenberg and liturgiologist Rembert Weakland concerning the transcription of The Play of Daniel, and with musicologist William Smoldon concerning the translation and transcription of The Play of Herod.
The Business and Office Files series is comprised of 4.5 linear feet of material documenting the central business and administrative functions of New York Pro Musica. The series is arranged alphabetically by subject. Subseries include a grouping of correspondence and financial statements related to Columbia Artists Management, who represented Pro Musica, contracts with performers and concert venues, costumes and set information, and publicity information. The series also includes subseries dedicated to radio, television and film projects, as well as musical recordings, including a large amount of correspondence and financial documents from the Decca Recording Company. Researcher’s should note that, although the largest grouping of artist and performer contracts can be found in the Business and Office Files series, contracts related to specific seasons may also be found in the Performing Ensembles, and Musical Dramas series.
The Financial Records series consists of 5 linear feet of material. Included are financial statements and reports prepared by auditors and accountants, budgets, bank statements, insurance and tax information. The reports and tax materials cover Pro Musica’s entire period of activity from the early 1950s to the late 1970s, while most of the other material dates from the mid-1960s to 1970s.
The Fundraising Documents series contains 3.5 linear feet of material. Included are general correspondence, information on fundraising events, and material related to both individual donors and private and government foundations and funding agencies. Applications, reports, and other material submitted to the Ford Foundation, which approved a large ten-year grant to Pro Musica, are particularly noteworthy. Researchers should note that although Leonard Bernstein and Harry Belafonte are listed in the Individual Contributors subseries, these folders contain only outgoing correspondence from Pro Musica, and, in Bernstein’s case, a letter from his secretary.
The Instrument Files series consists of approximately 2 linear feet of material documenting Pro Musica’s efforts to find, restore, or recreate medieval, renaissance, and baroque instruments for use by its various performing ensembles. The series includes files on individual instruments, instrument makers, instrument sales, and general information about the instrument collections as a whole. Although the series includes material created from the 1950s to the 1970s, the bulk of the material dates from the 1960s.
The Performing Ensembles series consists of 5 linear feet of material, and is divided into six subseries: Concert Ensemble, Abbey Singers, Motet Choir, Renaissance Band, Viol Study Group/Consort of Viols, and Wind Ensemble. The Concert Ensemble, by far the largest of the subseries, contains 4 linear feet of material, including programs, reviews, correspondence, publicity material, and contracts, documenting Concert Ensemble performances from 1954 to 1974. The subseries is arranged chronologically. Although the bulk of the subseries consists of contracts, personal and equipment manifests, schedules, and correspondence related to administrative and logistical concerns, programs and reviews, as well as other material documenting actual performances, are also present.
Combined, the Abbey Singers, Motet Choir, Renaissance Band, Viol Study Group/Consort of Viols, and Wind Ensemble subseries consist of 1 linear foot of material. Each subseries is alphabetically arranged and includes booking information, contracts, and programs.
Researchers should note that a more complete run of programs can be found in the Programs and Flyers Series.
The Musical Dramas series consists of 5 linear feet of material divided into five subseries: La Dafne, An Entertainment for Elizabeth, The Play of Daniel,The Play of Herod,and Repertory (The Repertory subseries includes material from both The Play of Danieland The Play of Herod,which were sometimes staged at the same time). All of the subseries, with the exception of the Entertainment for Elizabeth material, are arranged alphabetically by subject. As in the Performing Ensembles series, the majority of the Musical Drama material focuses on administrative and logistical concerns related to the staging of the plays. The series does include some performance-related material, including reviews, programs, a partial piano score, and an undated script and director's notes for An Entertainment for Elizabeth.
The Photographs series consists of 2 linear feet of material, and provides vivid visual documentation of Pro Musica’s instrumentalists, singers, and performances. The series includes a large number of publicity photographs, as well as group and individual portraits of performers, and photographs of performances. The Concert Ensemble subseries, the largest grouping in the series, is arranged chronologically, by year or season, and includes photographs dating from 1953-1973. The Musical Dramas subseries contains a large of photographs documenting the ornate costumes from The Play of Daniel and The Play of Herod. Also of note is a subseries which includes photographs of Noah Greenberg and W.H. Auden, one of which was framed with Greenberg’s original handwritten budget for the production.
The Programs and Flyers series consists of approximately 1 linear foot of material, divided into two subseries: Programs and Flyers. Both of the subseries are arranged chronologically, and contain programs and flyers for various Pro Musica performances. The Programs subseries contains material dating from the 1950s to the 1970s. Researchers should note that programs and flyers may also be found in the Performing Ensembles and Musical Dramas series. Drafts and sketches of programs and other publicity material are also present among the Carl Miller Files in the Board of Directors Documents series.
The Press Books series consists of 2 linear feet of material. The press books are small scrapbooks created by Pro Musica that were kept in three-ring binders. The books include programs, flyers, clippings, and other material related to Pro Musica performances and other activities. The Press Books series is divided into two subseries: Performing Ensembles and Musical Dramas. The Performing Ensembles subseries includes books dedicated to the Concert Ensemble (1963-1971), Motet Choir (1958-1961), and Renaissance Band (1960-1965). The Musical Dramas subseries contains books documenting La Dafne (1973-1974), An Entertainment for Elizabeth(1969-1972), The Play of Danieland The Play of Herod (1963-1971).
The Oversize Materials series is a small series consisting of two oversize boxes. The series includes two scrapbooks documenting performances at the Stanford University Summer Festival in 1969 and 1970, as well as posters for The Play of Danieland La Dafne.
The Card Files series consists of five small boxes of index cards divided into two subseries: Concerts and Bookings, and Office Card Files. Most of the cards in the series are undated. The Concert and Bookings subseries is an alphabetically arranged index of Pro Musica performances from 1950s to the 1970s. A memo discussing the card file states that the file includes information on “every state and city where Pro Musica performed, including the repertory taken, the dates, and the auditorium.” The file includes information for performances in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Central and South America. The Office Card Files subseries is essentially a "rolodex" of information and contacts used by the Pro Musica office. The Office Card Files include information on routine topics such as accountants and movers, as well as contact and other information on Pro Musica board members, researchers, conductors, vocalists, and instrumentalists.