Composer and head of the Music Department of the University of Massachusetts Amherst who received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1971. Includes materials relating to the development, performance, and publication of a number of Bezanson's compositions, including scores and parts for 46 of his 47 instrumental and vocal compositions, correspondence, programs and posters for performances of his works, papers relating to the development of the opera Golden Child, on which he collaborated with Paul Engle and which was performed on national television, score of the opera Stranger in Eden, with libretto by William A. Reardon, other papers, and one sound recording.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Philip T. Bezanson
A native of Athol, Massachusetts, Philip T. Bezanson (1916-1975) graduated from Yale University School of Music in 1940. Following war work and military service during World War II, he enrolled in the graduate program in musical composition at the State University of Iowa, Iowa City. He joined its faculty in 1948 and received his Ph.D. there in 1951. In 1954 he was appointed head of the program in musical composition, and in 1961 he was made full professor. In 1964, Dr. Bezanson was appointed to the faculty and named head of the Music Department of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He held the latter post until 1973 when he returned to full-time teaching at the University for the last two years of his life.
Dr. Bezanson was active as a composer, particularly from 1946 through 1975, and he received several awards, including the prestigious Fromm Foundation award for his piano sonata in 1953. He also received a number of commissions, notably in 1953 from Dimitri Mitropoulos for a piano concerto, and in 1960 for the score to the opera "Golden Child", which was performed on national television on the Hallmark Theatre. In addition to his activities as a composer and teacher of music, Dr. Bezanson was active in the Music Teacher's National Association.
Dr. Bezanson received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1971 and a Distinguished Alumni Award from Yale in 1974. The Bezanson Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Center of the University of Massachusetts Campus is named in his honor.
Materials relating to the development, performance, and publication of a number of Bezanson's compositions, including scores and parts for 46 of his 47 instrumental and vocal compositions, correspondence, programs and posters for performances of his works, papers relating to the development of the opera Golden Child, on which he collaborated with Paul Engle and which was performed on national television, score of the opera Stranger in Eden, with libretto by William A. Reardon, and other papers.
Sound recordings for Bezanson's works can be found in the University Archives, Record Group 185. Others exist and are shelved among the holdings in the Music Library, W.E.B. Du Bois Library. (Use the Library Catalog to locate titles.)
Voice and instrumental parts for at least one of Dr. Bezanson's works are in the Music Library of the University of Iowa.
This series is arranged topically, and the folders are filed alphabetically by topic, except for the inventory folder, filed first, and miscellaneous materials, filed last.
Includes clippings of newspaper articles about performances of Dr. Bezanson's works and some correspondence relating to performances, publication or copyrights of his works. In a few cases, he drafted replies on the versos of incoming letters. In addition, there are programs and posters for musical performances which included one or another of Dr. Bezanson's works, and material relating to several of his vocal works, most notably the opera Golden Child and its earlier version, Western Child in which he collaborated with the poet Paul Engle. These materials include several versions of the libretto and show some of the development of that text. Included also are an early synopsis of the opera's plot, sketches of its melody lines, and schedules for its rehearsal prior to its television performance.
Two fragments of musical revisions, detached from unknown scores, and thirteen unlabeled music notebook sheets are in folder 20. Two oversized items are filed as the first two items' in box 2.
Materials relating to the late Professor Howard M. Lebow, and the scholarship fund in his name, and to the second concert to benefit that fund, have been either removed to the Lebow and scholarship files of the Archives or destroyed.
Titles have been standardized as much as possible, favoring the cover page version, and are listed in alphabetical order.
The earliest of the 47 scores in this series dates from 1946, and most of the 37 scores for which there is an indication of the date were completed over the 25-year period from 1951 through 1975. The ten undated works appear to have been written between 1946 and 1956. One of the composer's works, Saint Judas, is known to have been retained by the donor. Two lists of the composer's works (see Series I, folder 7), one chronological and the other analytical and incomplete, vary somewhat in the titles given the works, and both often vary from the name given on the cover page of the score itself.
The series contains eleven works with vocal parts, including two operas. The lyrics for four of the works, including one of the operas, were provided by Paul Engle. Lyricists and sources of lyrics for vocal works are: the Bible (11), William Blake (8, 37), Paul Engle (20, 26, 28, 36; See also Series 1), Keith Gunderson (8), Robert Herrick (8), Joseph Langland (22), Abraham Lincoln (21), Christopher Marlowe (44), and William Reardon (38).
Although most of the scores are in the form of copies photoreproduced from holograph scores, there are nine holographs and three published scores in this series. Many scores include more or less extensive annotations, presumably those of the composer. Doubtless many of them were meant only to clarify or to emphasize musical points for the benefit of the performer or conductor, but there are a number of instances of changes in musical lines, and there are several instances of rather extensive revisions of music which were reproduced and pasted or attached by transparent tape over the text to be revised.
Citations show the most complete and standard name of the work, its date and performance time where found, and, for vocal works, the name of the lyricist; under each title the kinds of scores and instrumental parts or reductions and the number of copies of each part in the Papers are listed. There are some 389 copies of scores and parts in the collection, and additional photocopies of parts. Where appropriate, indications of the composer's changes and annotations are noted. Unless otherwise indicated, all parts are reproduced from holograph scores.
Voice and instrumental parts for "Song of the Cedar" are in the Music library of the University of Iowa.
Acquired from Lillian Bezanson, 1975.
Sound recordings for Bezanson's works can be found in the University Archives, Record Group 185. Others exist and are shelved among the holdings in the Music Library, W.E.B. Du Bois Library. (Use the Library Catalog to locate titles.). Voice and instrumental parts for at least one of Dr. Bezanson's works are in the Music Library of the University of Iowa.
Processed by W. B. Cook, Jr., November 1981.
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Cite as: Philip T. Bezanson Papers (RG 40/11 Bezanson). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.