Scope and arrangement
The Ross Lee Finney Papers consist of 25 linear feet of material dating from 1916 to 1996. They document the composers life and career from several perspectives. The personal and professional correspondence between Finney and his colleagues, students and friends provides first-hand evidence of many of the projects and events in his life. The writings present a more formal look at Finneys own thoughts on his compositions, teaching and music in general. The press clippings and concert programs are a detailed, year-by-year record of the public performances of Finneys music and the publicity it attracted. The scores, many never published, date from throughout Finneys life and provide views of his work-in-progress, and also shed light on his development as a young composer. Photographs, degrees, certificates and awards complement other elements of the collection.
The Ross Lee Finney papers are arranged in seven series:
- 1916 - 1996 and undated9 boxes
The correspondence is divided into two sub-series, Personal and Professional. The first contains correspondence between Finney and his family or close personal friends. The second contains correspondence between Finney and other composers, colleagues, publishers, music presenters, students, musicians and conductors, and deals with various aspects of his professional composing or teaching life. Before examining this series, the researcher should read the transcript of a tape Finney made in 1982 describing the letters he was donating to the library; it also serves as a short memoir. It is located in New York Public Library correspondence, Box 8, Folder 5. Although some letters from Finney are gathered in sub-levels of their own, many more are located throughout the series if they were part of an ongoing set of correspondence between him and another party. Oversized correspondence is in Series VII, Sub-series 2, Oversized Materials.
- 1950 - 1984 and undated2 boxes
The writings are a formal presentation of Finneys thoughts on the process of composition, teaching, the evolution of his music and style, and music in general. They are divided into two sub-series, lectures and articles/other writings. The lectures were delivered to students and to other composers and teachers at meetings, symposia and commencements. The articles appeared in various publications. Both sub-series often contain differing or evolving versions of the lecture or article.
- 1926 - 1993 and undated6 boxes
The combined elements of this series create a detailed history of the public performances of Finneys work, and the reaction to them by critics, from throughout his career. Many performances are documented in both sub-series. The press clippings also contain general articles about Finney not associated with a particular performance. The second sub-series, Concert Programs, encompasses meeting, symposium and lecture programs in addition to musical performances. Oversized clippings and programs are in Series VII, Sub-series 2, Oversized Materials.
- 1948 - 1980 and undated1 box 9 folders
Includes honorary degrees from Carleton College and the New England Conservatory of Music, membership certificates for the National Institute of Arts and Letters and Phi Beta Kappa, and other honors. Two awards are located in Series VII, Sub-series 2, Oversized Materials.
- ca. 1920 - 1987 and undated1 box 6 folders
Photographs are divided into five categories: Ross Lee Finney, other composers, other musicians, trips and events, and unidentified. The photos of Finney are from throughout his life and show him with friends and colleagues, including a set of photos from a performance of the ballet Ahab (1985) by the Erick Hawkins Dance Company. Other composers includes Elliot Carter, Aaron Copland, Luigi Dallapicolla and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Other musicians includes Stephen Fisher (a composer who worked with Finney at his publisher, C.F. Peters) and the Stanley Quartet. Trips and events documents Finneys 1964 visit to Greece and his 1965 International Fair trip.
- 1922 - 1985 and undated10 boxes
The scores document every phase of Finneys career and include many unpublished works, particularly from his early days, but also from late in his career (for instance, the opera Weep Torn Land (1984)). There are also music analyses dating from both his student and teaching days.
- 1933 - 1984 and undated5 boxes
Most of this series is scores, all of which date from Finneys mature period. Many have parts found in Series VI. The second sub-series is the oversized portions of Series I, III and IV.