Finding Aids Home

SC 1995.2
Ruth T. Watanabe Special Collections
Sibley Music Library
Eastman School of Music
University of Rochester

prepared by Sion M. Honea, Jeffrey Zeigler, and Kathryn Dey
Summer 1995
Revised by Gail E. Lowther
Spring 2019






Arthur Farwell Collection (1863-1990, bulk 1895-1950)
Location: M1A,1,2-2,5
21.25 linear feet

Biographical Sketch

Arthur Farwell (1872-1952) was an American composer, critic and publisher of considerable influence in the first half of the twentieth century. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied electrical engineering, but upon graduation turned to a career in music. He studied with Chadwick, Humperdinck and Pfitzner, the latter two during a year fellowship in Europe. In 1901 he founded the important Wa-Wan press which continued until 1912 and emphasized the publication of works by American composers. Farwell served as critic for Musical America from 1909-1914. The composer specialized in the production of large scale community musical pageant productions. Farwell’s musical and other interest were wide. His music includes traditional classical works and works influenced by both traditional and Native American sources. He was also interested in theosophy and related fields, and left an unpublished manuscript of a work on the role of intuition in the creative process.



This collection contains materials produced by Farwell in the course of his wide activities along with memorabilia relating to his mother, Sara Farwell, and some research notes by some who have studied Farwell. A portion of Farwell’s papers were placed in storage after his death and accidentally sold at public auction owing to a confusion in billing. This portion was purchased by a friend of Evelyn Davis Culbertson, who received them as a gift. In the meantime Brice Farwell, son of the composer, maintained another large segment of the papers. In 1994 the two portions were reunited and donated to Sibley Music Library by Culbertson and Farwell.


Scope and Content

The Arthur Farwell Collection contains materials from the entire range of Farwell’s interests: music by Farwell and other composers in manuscript and published form, letters, diaries, literary manuscripts and librettos, study notes, drawings, and sketches, photographs, and papers relating to the Wa-Wan press and his later venture with a lithographic press. Because of the breadth of Farwell’s interests, his retention of his working papers, and his important role in American music, the collection possesses considerable value in a variety of areas. These include: the Music of Farwell and his proteges, the national music movement of the early twentieth century, community music production in America, Native American and traditional music’s influence on American music. The personal papers present interesting insights into the musical milieu of the time. His notes and writings on theosophy and spiritualism offer an example of these mystical movements on an early twentieth century artist. The collection also includes diaries and articles written by Farwell’s mother Sara Wyer Farwell, who lectured on child education.


Restrictions and Use

There are no restrictions on the use of the collection. Copyright restrictions for reproduction are scheduled to expire in 2003.

A nearly complete collection of Farwell’s musical works was privately microfilmed in 1972 and a catalog produced. Copies of the film and catalog are available for purchase.



Sibley Music Library possesses many publications by the Wa-Wan press cataloged individually. In the Library’s Special Collections and the Eastman School of Music Archives are materials relating to the Institute of American Music, which, though unconnected with Farwell’s efforts, shared the similar goal of promoting American Music during approximately the same time span.



Series 1: Music by Arthur Farwell

This series comprises the various musical compositions of Arthur Farwell ordered numerically according to the arrangement in Evelyn Culbertson’s catalogue of Farwell’s compositions in He Heard America Singing: Arthur Farwell, Composer and Crusading Music Educator (Metuchen, NY: Scarecrow Press, 1992). Within each number, the compositions are organized according to the creative process, with sketches and drafts followed by fine copies and, last, publications of the works. For dramatic and theatrical works, the scripts and staging materials, if any are extant, have been included along with the music.

The materials in this series have been subdivided into seven sub-series, the first six of which are derived from Evelyn Culbertson’s catalogue:

Sub-series A: Vocal Solo
Sub-series B: Piano Music
Sub-series C: Chamber and Instrumental Music
Sub-series D: Choral and Community Singing Music
Sub-series E: Music for Dramatic Forms
Sub-series F: Orchestral Music
Sub-series G: Other Compositions and Sketches
This sub-series is comprised of various sketches, loose material, unfinished works, and untitled compositions. These items are not listed in Culbertson’s catalogue.

Series 2: Music by Other Composers

Farwell possessed many compositions by other composers, both manuscripts and publications. Among the materials grouped in this series are many original Wa-Wan publications. The works are arranged alphabetically by author/title.

Series 3: Performance Materials

This series is comprised of three types of material that relate to the production and performance of Farwell’s music, namely concert programs, program notes written by Farwell, and materials relating to major productions, mainly community music productions. The concert programs cover essentially the span of Farwell’s professional life and are arranged chronologically. Farwell wrote and provided program notes for performances of many of his compositions. Many times, he attached or included them with the score of the work itself, in which case, the original order has been respected, so that these are filed in the music series with the respective composition. In this series are gathered fugitive notes that have appeared randomly throughout the collection, probably as the result of much manipulation and use through the years after Farwell’s death. They are arranged alphabetically. The last group of materials gathers documents relating to Farwell’s large-scale, often multi-media productions for community music. These are arranged alphabetically by name of production.

Series 4: Literary Works

Subseries A: Works by Farwell
Farwell produced a variety of literary compositions including lectures, essays, fictional works, poems, plays, and scripts. These are arranged alphabetically by title. Scripts for extant musical theater productions are placed in the music series with their respective compositions. The major component of the series is an unpublished book on the role of intuition in creative life.

Subseries B: Works by other authors
Included are a small selection of articles, books, poems, and other works that relate to Farwell’s varied interests or which were received through personal of professional activities. These items are arranged alphabetically by author/title.

Series 5: Traditional Music Studies

Farwell was extremely interested in a variety of types of traditional music as a result of his involvement in the development of American music. The materials are arranged alphabetically by subject, of which there are four main areas: Cowboy songs, Folksongs, Indian music, and Spanish California songs.

Series 6: Personal Papers

As a result of an active life and varied interests, many unrelated to his professional career, Farwell collected materials relating to many subjects. The materials relate to specific interests, pastimes, and his personal life. Most notable are his interests in theosophical and spiritual subjects, papers relating to his lithographic press, and his activity in the Bohemian Club. The major item for Farwell research is a scrapbook kept by him and covering the years 1903-1911. The series is ordered alphabetically by broad subject area.

Series 7: Correspondence

Sub-series A: Personal Correspondence
The materials include correspondence generated during Farwell’s personal and professional life. The letters are arranged alphabetically by the surname of each correspondent.

Sub-series B: Autograph Collection
The distinction between these materials and those of subseries A is apparently artificial only, for the correspondence contained in this sub-series also refers to Farwell’s personal and professional life. The distinction, however, goes back to Farwell himself who kept these items separate as an “autograph collection.”

Series 8: Photographs

This series includes photographs of a personal nature relating to Farwell, his family and friends, and those documenting productions in which Farwell was involved, especially community music productions and pageants. Of the latter kind, details of staging, costume and personnel are included. The series is divided into prints and negatives and then arranged into three basic format sizes: 8×10, 5×7, and 4×5. Within these categories the photographs are ordered by person or subject. Thus, it is necessary to check each format size for photographs of the same person or subject.

Sub-series A: 8” x 10” prints
Sub-series B: 5” x 7” prints
Sub-series C: 4” x 5” prints
Sub-series D: Negatives

Series 9: Sara Farwell Papers

Sara Farwell, Arthur’s mother, was a woman of considerable talent and accomplishment. Farwell carefully preserved her early diaries and lectures she gave on the raising and education of children. The material is arranged alphabetically.

Series 10: Research Papers

This includes fugitive notes and correspondence generated by research on Farwell by Edgar Kirk and Evelyn Culbertson. Edgar Kirk wrote a doctoral dissertation on Arthur Farwell at Eastman School of Music in 1958. Evelyn Culbertson wrote the book He Heard America Singing (1992) on Farwell.

Series 11: Microfilm Collection

Brice Farwell, son of the composer, produced a microfilm copy of most of his father’s music along with a published guide. A Guide to the Music of Arthur Farwell and to the Microfilm Collection of His Work (issued in a limited edition for the estate of Arthur Farwell, 1972) provides access to the works on microfilm; a service copy is available in the Sibley Music Library’s microfilm collection.

Series 12: Ephemera

This series is comprised of a stamp containing a copyright statement dated 1975 as issued by Arthur Farwell’s heirs. Accompanying the stamp is a one-page manuscript note from Brice Farwell concerning the copyright of materials in the collection.

Series 13: Art Works

Farwell was an amateur artist and created drawings and sketches for himself, for use in his work, and to record events of his life, many of which he called “visions.” The series is loosely organized in two groups: (1) those drawings relating to the lithographic illustrations for his book on intuition and (2) all others.

Series 14: Oversize 

This is not a separate series but contains items from several series that required separate protection because of size or other reasons. The individual items and folder entries are annotated with respect to the series and sub-series designations from which the given documents were separated. The oversized materials have been divided into nine sub-series to reflect their original location within the collection:

Sub-series A: Oversized Music
Sub-series B: Oversized Performance Materials
Sub-series C: Oversized Literary Works
Sub-series D: Oversized Traditional Music Studies
Sub-series E: Oversized Personal Papers
Sub-series F: Oversized Correspondence
Sub-series G: Oversized Photographs
Sub-series H: Oversized Research Papers
Sub-series I: Oversized Art Works