Scope and arrangement
The Frederick Block Papers consist mainly of the scores for Block’s music, almost none of which is published. The scores include operas such as Samum and Rauschgold; orchestral works such as Block’s three symphonies and the Viennese Suite; chamber music; piano, vocal and choral music; and arrangements of the work of other composers, including a setting of Mahler’s Symphony No. 10 for four-handed piano. Many of the compositions have parts as well as scores. The Papers also include clippings, concert programs, a scrapbook, composition lists, correspondence, play scripts written by Block, and photographic portraits of the composer.
The Frederick Block papers are arranged in three series:
- 1920-1944 and undated22 boxes
The scores are divided into chamber music, operas, orchestral music, piano music, vocal music and arrangements of music by other composers. Most of the scores are unbound ink or pencil manuscripts (bound scores are noted as such); occasionally there are printed scores, but almost none are published. Most of the scores have opus numbers on them; opus numbers for scores without them are derived from a biographical pamphlet in the collection (in Box 23, Folder 4). Some scores have opus numbers which do not match up to the list on that pamphlet.
The largest portion of the scores consists of Block’s eight operas. Each of them has at least the libretto and full orchestral and piano-vocal scores. Two, Rauschgold and Samum, have orchestral parts as well. Block’s chamber music includes string quartets, piano quartets and quintets, and sonatas for violin, oboe, clarinet and alto saxophone, among other works. The scores for the chamber music usually contain parts as well as full scores. His orchestral music includes four symphonies and several pieces for string orchestra or chamber orchestra. The piano works include a bound collection of early pieces (1927-1932), nocturnes, marches, a few works for four-handed piano and several untitled/unidentified pieces. Block’s vocal music consists primarily of songs and lieder for voice and piano, but also includes Five Folksongs For Chorus and three works for voice and orchestra. Block’s arrangements of other composers’ music include a version of Tchaikovsky’s Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy for four clarinets and transcription of Mahler’s incomplete Symphony No. 10 for piano, four hands. This series also contains untitled sketches and orphan score pages.
- 1922-1951 and undated1 box
This series contains loose clippings and concert programs (some posthumous); a scrapbook containing many more clippings and concert programs from throughout Block’s career; a folder of biographical information, resumes and composition lists; four scripts for plays written by Block (one as co-author); and an article Block wrote for Chord And Discord about his transcription for piano of Mahler’s Symphony No. 10. There is also a folder of information about the Frederick Block Committee, which was founded by Block’s widow and friends to promote Block’s music following his death. It contains correspondence (some to or from his widow) and publicity material.
- 1936-1944 and undated2 boxes
The oversized material includes photographic portraits of the composer, two posters (one advertising a performance of Block’s opera Samum), and orchestral scores. The scores include five pieces by Block and two orchestral transcriptions of music by other composers.