Scope and arrangement
The American Music Center collection of score manuscripts, dating from 1935 to 1996, holds music by ten composers: Gerald Busby, Ron Carter, Wendy Mae Chambers, Arthur Cohn, Judith Dvorkin (also known as Judy Spencer), Virginia Samuel, Les Thimmig, William Turner, Grace A. Yeager, and an unidentified composer who wrote incidental music for plays by Laurence Klavan.
The manuscripts consist of sketches, unfinished compositions, works-in-progress, and final versions of scores and parts in either the composer's or a copyist's hand. Some scores are manuscript reproductions. The collection also contains correspondence and business papers of Judith Dvorkin. The best-represented composers are Dvorkin, William Turner, and Grace A. Yeager. The eleventh series of the collection holds scores and sketches by unknown composers and orphan score pages.
The American Music Center collection of score manuscripts are arranged in eleven series:
Gerald Busby (b. 1935) is an actor as well as a composer who has written music for film and theater. This series contains one manuscript copy of a score for clavichord or harpsichord, with an illegible title.
Ron Carter (b. 1937) is one of the foremost bassists in jazz. The scores in this series represent his work as a composer and arranger. They include scores for his album Peg Leg (1978), with arrangements by Robert M. Freedman; Carter's arrangements for his album Empire Jazz (1980), featuring music John Williams wrote for the first two films of the original Star Wars trilogy; Carter's score for the film Beatrice (1988); incidental music for J.C. Is Alive (1989), a play; and a composition for jazz ensemble titled Parade.
Wendy Mae Chambers (b. 1953) has written both large-scale compositions and pieces for solo performers. She employs unusual instrumentations such as 77 trombones, toy pianos, or household tools such as cooking utensils and vacuum cleaners. This series contains 17 of her compositions, and untitled or incomplete scores.
Arthur Cohn (1910-1998) was a composer, conductor, and critical and historical writer on music. This series contains manuscripts for five of his works, as well as a folder of sketches. The scores include Kaddish for Symphony Orchestra (1964), Quotations in Percussion (1958), and Suite for Mezzo-Soprano with String Quartet (1941).
Judith Dvorkin (1928 – 1995), under the pen name of Judy Spencer, wrote the music, lyrics, or libretto to many songs, musicals, and operas, often for children. She earned her bachelors degree at Barnard College and Masters at Columbia University, where she studied with Roger Sessions and Douglas Moore. She also studied jazz with the pianist Teddy Wilson.
Equally active as a composer and a lyricist/librettist, her co-writers included such musicians as Norris Turney and Jimmy Rowles. She also produced English translations of songs in Spanish for publication. Dvorkin is perhaps best-known for her lyrics to songs for the Captain Kangaroo television series (with music by Earl Rose). She composed "serious music" (song cycles, chamber music, and orchestral works) under her own name, but she also used it on occasion when writing songs and musicals. In addition to her compositional work, Dvorkin established and was the first Director of the American Composers Alliance Library. For many years, she was the Chief Librarian and Archivist of the music library at Broadcast Music, Inc.
This series contains scores for about 160 of her compositions. It also holds business or creative correspondence with Dvorkin's co-writers and publishers, as well as concert programs and resumes.
Dvorkin's scores include music and/or lyrics and scripts for musicals such as Cyrano, Seven At A Blow, The Musical Mark Twain, The Snow Queen, Beauty and the Beast, The Reluctant Dragon, The Three Musketeers, and The Frog Prince; 23 songs written for the Captain Kangaroo program; and at least 100 lead sheets for other songs. Among the pieces written under her real name are The Children – Song Cycle for Bass; Song Cycle for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra; Three Letters: John Keats to Fanny Brawne (for baritone and chamber ensemble); The Crescent Eyebrow (for soprano and chamber ensemble); Eight Piano Solos; and East of Samoa, an opera with a libretto by Dvorkin and music by Paul Rosner.
This series is in four divisions: Correspondence, Programs, Resumes, and Scores. The scores are arranged alphabetically, with the exception of the songs, which have separate files for Captain Kangaroo, songs written with Dick Chodosh, settings of poetry by Dorothy Parker, and translations.
Laurence Klavan (b. 1954) is a novelist and playwright. The scores in this series contain incidental music and annotated scripts for two of his short plays, Uncle Lumpy Comes to Visit and Smoke. The composer is not credited.
Virginia Samuel is a violist and composer. She earned a bachelor of music in viola performance and master of music in composition at the New England Conservatory, and a Ph.D. in composition at Harvard University. The American Academy of Arts and Letters honored her twice with awards for her compositions, in 1994 and 2004. This series holds the manuscript for her composition Elegy for Solo Violin.
- ca. 1982
Les Thimmig (b. 1943) is a clarinetist, saxophonist, composer, and conductor active in both jazz and classical music. He received degrees in composition from the Eastman School of Music and Yale University, and has taught at Yale University and the University of British Columbia. He now teaches at the University of Wisconsin. This series contains a copy of the manuscript for his Concerto for Six Players.
William Turner (1952-1987) was a composer, dramatist, producer, and actor. He wrote music for plays, musicals, and operas, as well as individual songs and instrumental music. Turner studied theater at Carnegie-Mellon University and the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. A founding member and artistic director of Theatre Express in Pittsburgh, Turner wrote, directed, produced, or composed music for more than 24 productions there from 1976 to 1980. These included A Lyrical Opera Made By Two To Be Sung (a libretto by Gertrude Stein), and The Unlit Corridor: A Horror Story. In addition to his own works, he directed productions of Eugene Ionesco's Killing Game and Sam Shepard's Angel City (for which he also wrote incidental music). In the early-1980s, Turner moved to New York City, where he wrote and directed an opera, A Bird in the Hand: Two Solos, and adapted, directed, and composed music for Al Carmine’s Camp Meeting, which premiered in 1986 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. William Turner died of AIDS-related causes in 1987.
This series consists of all of Turner's manuscripts, which were donated by his brother, Robert, to the American Music Center upon William's death. They include sketches, scores, lyrics, and libretti for 36 plays, songs, musicals, and operas, including Ireland; The Unlit Corridor: A Horror Story; A Lyrical Opera Made By Two To Be Sung; A Bird in the Hand: Two Solos; Camp Meeting; Angel City; In the Jungle of Cities (by Bertolt Brecht); and As You Like It. Also present is Three Short Scenes for Orchestra, written under the pen name of Herman Bernardd (a pun on the name of film composer Bernard Hermann); and Dance, also for orchestra.
The series holds papers consisting of the program for Turner's memorial concert and an incomplete list of Turner's compositions compiled by Charles Gilbert. A slightly different (but also incomplete) listing of Turner's works is in a .pdf document accessible from the archival portal.
Grace A.Yeager mainly composed songs for voice and piano with lyricist Harold Hanning. She also created choral pieces and settings for poetry, particularly works of Robert Louis Stevenson, and instrumental chamber works. This series holds about 60 of her compositions. These include songs written with Hanning, as well as settings of poetry by Stevenson, Alfred Tennyson, Elizabeth Glass Barlow, and William Thackeray. The poems by Stevenson are gathered in a single, untitled song cycle. Other works in the series are choral pieces such as Blow Bugle Blow; Boundless; Lord, I Cry Unto Thee; My Boy Billy; and I Will Sing of Mercy and Judgment. Also present are an orchestral piece titled David's Lament; pieces for piano, two vocalists and piano, and flute or clarinet and piano; and sketches and untitled works.