Scope and arrangement
The files in the collection contain personal and professional correspondence; drafts of articles, speeches, and musical programs; scores owned by Stoessel (often with his notes in the margins); miscellaneous scores composed by Stoessel; photographs; and memorials, professional biographies, and obituaries.
Stoessel's correspondence makes up the majority of the collection, much of it personal letters to Julia Pickard, whom he married in 1917. (One file of letters to her which are not from Albert Stoessel in included in the collection.) As Julia Pickard also was a trained violinist, Stoessel's letters to her are often musically oriented. These letters are also of professional interest as they reveal details of Stoessel's early career as a violinist, and the development of his interest in conducting during World War I. Meetings with some of the leading musical figures of the day, such as Walter Damrosch and André Caplet, are mentioned in these letters.
Stoessel's professional correspondence includes a file of seven letters from Walter Damrosch who functioned as Stoessel's conducting mentor. Stoessel was Damrosch's assistant conductor for the Oratorio Society of New York in the early 1920s. The majority of the professional correspondence relates to two subjects: a proposed position for Stoessel during World War II as a musical advisor in the Army Specialist Corps, and Stoessel's unsuccessful application to become conductor of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. Both these subjects occur in 1942-1943. Earlier correspondence is minimal, and only two letters exist in the collection pertaining to Stoessel's years at New York University.
A few handwritten manuscripts of articles and speeches are also contained within the collection, interesting for their insights into Stoessel's musical opinions. Conducting notes are apparent throughout Stoessel's two Bach scores from 1927 and 1943, offering comparisons in the evolution of his conducting style of these works. A number of his own compositions, including the full score of his opera Garrick, also exist within the collection.
The photographic series in the collection is primarily personal, including family and vacation pictures. Professionally, there is an inscribed photograph of Walter Damrosch, another of Eric Leinsdorf, Albert Stoessel conducting, and Stoessel and Julia Stoessel with the Chautauqua Choir. The biographical notices and extensive memorials after Stoessel's death help to organize and clarify the sequence of his career, and illuminate the influence he had on the various societies and schools with which he worked.
An interesting theme running through the collection is the emphasis on Stoessel's "American-ness" in composition and conducting. Stoessel's career flowered during the period in which Americna music was breaking away from European influence and imitation and finding its own path. The Albert Stoessel Papers are a valuable research tool on many fronts, as Stoessel played a significant part in the development of 20th century American music, was a prominent figure as a conductor, and was highly influential in music education, in composition, promoting and advocating choral music.
The Albert Stoessel papers are arranged in six series: