SAMUEL ADLER PAPERS (1999-2018 Gifts)

Ruth T. Watanabe Special Collections
Sibley Music Library
Eastman School of Music
University of Rochester

Processed by Gail E. Lowther
Spring 2019


Samuel Adler Papers (1999-2018 Gifts)




Location: C4B 9,7 – 10,3
30 linear feet

Biographical Sketch

Samuel Adler was born on March 4, 1928, to American parents living in Mannheim, Germany. In  1939, his father, who had served as cantor in the Mannheim Synagogue, accepted a position in Worcester,  Massachusetts. There, in Boston, the younger Adler studied composition with Herbert Fromm and later at  Boston University with Karl Geiringer, Hugo Norden, and Paul Pisk. After completing a bachelor’s degree  at Boston in 1949, he entered Harvard University, where he studied under Irving Fine, Walter Piston, and  Randall Thompson. In addition, Adler studied composition with Aaron Copland and conducting with  Serge Koussevitzky during a summer at Tanglewood.  

After receiving his master’s degree from Harvard in 1950, he joined the US Army and is credited  with founding the 7th Army Symphony Orchestra, which, under Adler’s baton, performed extensively  throughout Europe as part of the American cultural diplomacy initiatives; for his work with the 7th Army  Symphony Orchestra, Adler was awarded a Medal of Honor in 1953. He then moved to Texas, where he  served as musical director for the Temple Emanu-El in Dallas from 1953 until 1956. In 1957, he was  appointed to the faculty of North Texas State University, where he taught composition until 1966. Adler  then moved to Rochester, NY, to assume a position as professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music. He taught at Eastman from 1966 until 1995 and served as chair of the composition department  from 1974 until his retirement. From 1997 to 2016, he was a member of the composition faculty at the  Juilliard School of Music, and, in 2009, he was awarded the William Schuman Scholars Chair. Dr. Adler  has also taught at several major music festivals in the US, including Tanglewood, Aspen, Brevard, and  Bowdoin, as well as others in France, Germany, Israel, Spain, Austria, Poland, South America, and Korea.  

Dr. Adler has received commissions and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1975,  1978, 1980, and 1982), the Rockefeller Foundation (1965), the Ford Foundation (1966-71), the  Koussevitzky Foundation, the Wolf Trap Foundation, the City of Jerusalem, and the Welsh Arts Council.  He has also received commissions from numerous performing ensembles, including the National  Symphony; major orchestras in Cleveland, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Houston, and Atlanta; and many chamber  ensembles, such as the American Brass Quintet, the Berlin-Bochum Bass Ensemble, the Ying Quartet, and  the American String Quartet. His catalog includes more than 400 published works, including six  symphonies, five operas, a ballet, twelve concerti, ten string quartets, four oratorios, as well as many other  orchestral, band, chamber and choral works and songs, which have been performed all over the world. His  publications include the texts Choral Conducting (Hold, Reinhart, and Winston, 1971; Schirmer Books,  1985), Sight Singing (W. W. Norton, 1979, 1997), and The Study of Orchestration (W. W. Norton, 1982,  1989, 2001); the latter received the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award in 1983. In addition, Dr. Adler published  a volume of memoirs in 2017, titled Building Bridges with Music: Stories from a Composer’s Life (Pendragon Press). 

Among his many honors are the Charles Ives Living Prize (1961), the Lillian Fairchild Award  (1974), the Guggenheim Fellowship (1975–76), the MTNA Composer of the Year Award (1988–89), the  Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1990), the Special Citation from the American  Foundation of Music Clubs (2001), and the ASCAP Aaron Copland Award for Lifetime Achievement in  Music (2003); he was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in October 2008. Dr.  Adler is member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as the Academia Chilena de Bellas  Artes and the Freie Akademie der Künste Rhein-Neckar in Mannheim. In May 2018, Adler was awarded  the highest civilian honor from the German government (the Bundesverdienstkreuz, 1st class). Dr. Adler  holds honorary degrees from Southern Methodist University, Wake Forest University, St. Mary’s College,  the St. Louis Conservatory of Music, and Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.


Dr. Adler began to deposit his papers in May 1993, with additional deposits of papers arriving  periodically. As of March 2019, the collection is an open collection, and additional materials are received  directly from Dr. Adler in periodic installments.

Scope and Content

The Samuel Adler Papers is comprised of scores, correspondence, professional papers, and  publicity and press materials that document Dr. Adler’s long and prolific career as a composer, conductor,  educator, and administrator. Of particular note is the substantial series of professional correspondence  (Series 2, Sub-series A) produced and preserved by Dr. Adler, which chronicle his career as a composer  as well as his teaching and administrative responsibilities at the Eastman School of Music and elsewhere.  The collection also includes a finite series of commercial CD recordings featuring some of Dr. Adler’s  compositions.  

The materials included in this deposit of Dr. Adler’s papers primarily date from 1990-2018.

Restrictions and Use

There are no restrictions on use of the collection other than those restrictions imposed by the  provisions of the U.S. Copyright Law.


At the time this finding aid was prepared, the Samuel Adler Papers remains an open collection,  which is to say that materials continue to arrive periodically. In addition to the materials described herein,  the library houses a previous deposit of Dr. Adler’s papers (accession number 999.12), which contains  scores, concert programs, awards, publications, photographs, and correspondence from 1940 to the mid 1990s. 

In addition to the Samuel Adler Papers, the RTWSC houses the papers of several other composers  associated with the Eastman School of Music, including both faculty members and alumni. Others in that  number include the collections of Howard Hanson, Bernard Rogers, Wayne Barlow, Burrill Phillips, John  La Montaine, Gordon Binkerd, Sydney Hodkinson, Michael Isaacson, and Will Gay Bottje.


Series 1: Sheet Music

This series is comprised of drafts, fair and final copies, manuscript reproductions, and publishers’  imprints of works composed, arranged, transcribed, or edited by Samuel Adler. Within the following two  sub-series, the scores have been organized alphabetically by title: 

Sub-series A: Original Compositions and Arrangements
Sub-series B: Transcriptions and Edited Music

Series 2: Papers

Sub-series A: Correspondence 
This sub-series contains letters and documents pertaining to Samuel Adler’s professional  career. The correspondence documents his work and associations as a composer, educator, guest  lecturer, and administrator. Within each folder, items are arranged alphabetically by each  correspondent’s surname and then chronologically by date. 

Sub-series B: Papers
This series contains documents generated and collected by Samuel Adler, including  honors and award certificates, works lists, writings, and photographs and other images.

Series 3: Publicity and Press Materials

Sub-series A: Concert Programs and Publicity Materials
This sub-series contains concert and recital programs featuring compositions by Dr.  Adler. Also included in the sub-series are publicity and promotional materials, such as concert  posters, flyers, and brochures, for concerts featuring Dr. Adler’s compositions. 

Sub-series B: Press Clippings
This sub-series is comprised of loose press clippings that document performances of Dr.  Adler’s compositions as well as human-interest articles that feature Dr. Adler. Items are organized  in chronological sequence, and undated clippings are housed in a separate folder within the series. 

Sub-series C: Scrapbook
This sub-series consists of a scrapbook, compiled by Dr. Adler, that chronicles his  professional endeavors from 1952-1956. Included in the scrapbook are concert programs for  performances of Dr. Adler‘s compositions, press clippings, and photographs. Some loose  materials were interleaved in the scrapbook pages, and, due to age, the adhesive on several pages of the scrapbooks has failed. For ease of filing, loose items have been removed; these items have  been are filed separately in folders housed with the scrapbook.

Series 4: Audio-Visual Materials

This series contains a finite selection of commercial recordings of compositions by Samuel  Adler; specifically, the series is comprised of CDs released by Gasparo Records. The recordings have  been arranged alphabetically by album title.

Series 5: Oversized

This series has been created for the ease of filing and is comprised of documents that require  special housing consideration on grounds of their oversized dimensions. These materials have been  arranged into three sub-series according to material type: 

Sub-series A: Oversized Sheet Music
Sub-series B: Oversized Papers
Sub-series C: Oversized Publicity and Press Materials

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