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Eastman School of Music Archives 2003/2/24

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

Prepared by Maria Cristina Fava, Spring 2006
Revised by Gail E. Lowther, April 2021



Accession no. 2003/2/24
Shelf location: M3B 5,1–6
Physical extent: 15 linear feet

Biographical Sketch

Bernard Rogers (b February 4, 1893, New York; d May 24, 1968, Rochester, NY) enjoyed a distinguished career as a composer and educator; as a professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music, he taught more than 700 composers, many of whom also went on to achieve international prominence.

Rogers was born in New York, NY, and attended public schools in New York City and, later, New Rochelle. As a youth, he developed a deep interest in painting, which remained a lifelong hobby, and at 12 began taking piano lessons. When he was 15, he left school and, through his father’s connections as a jeweler, was invited to work in the office of the architecture firm Carrère & Hastings. He worked for the firm for two years while attending evening classes in architecture at Columbia University but ultimately left to pursue a career in music instead.

Rogers received his first instruction in composition with Arthur Farwell; when Farwell left New York, he continued his studies with Hans van den Berg. His first significant accolades as a composer were for his first orchestral work, the symphonic elegy To the Fallen, which was performed by the New York Philharmonic in 1919. For this piece, Rogers was awarded a Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship to fund study in Europe (1920–21). When he returned to the US, he began working as a reporter for Musical America while continuing his composition studies with Ernest Bloch. In 1921, Rogers enrolled at the Institute of Musical Art (now the Juilliard School of Music), where he studied theory with Percy Goetschius; later (from 1922–23), he studied for a year at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

In 1926, Rogers accepted a teaching position at the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut. The next year, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship (1927–1929), which enabled him to study with Frank Bridge in London and Nadia Boulanger in Paris. When he returned to the United States in 1929, he was invited by Howard Hanson to join the faculty at the Eastman School of Music; he would spend the duration of his career at Eastman serving as professor of composition and chair of the composition department (1930–1967) until his retirement in 1967. Many of his students enjoyed distinguished and prominent careers as composers and educators themselves; this number includes Dominick Argento, William Bergsma, Will Gay Bottje, David Diamond, Ronald Lo Presti, Ulysses Kay, John La Montaine, Burrill Phillips, Gardner Read, H. Owen Reed, Robert Ward, Clifton Williams, and many others.

Prof. Rogers’s output as a composer included more than 25 large orchestral works, including five symphonies; five operas; three cantatas and several other large-scale choral works; and numerous works of chamber music. He received commissions from the Ford Foundation, the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, the Louisville Orchestra, the String Foundation of Cleveland, and several other organizations. Among his numerous awards are the Loeb Composition Prize (1923), the David Bispham Medal (for the opera The Marriage of Aude, completed 1931), election to the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1947), the Alice M. Ditson Award for opera (for The Warrior, 1947), and a Fulbright Award (1953), in addition to the aforementioned Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship and Guggenheim Fellowship. He was also awarded honorary degrees from Valparaiso University (1959) and Wayne University (1962). His compositions have been performed by the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Philadelphia Sinfonetta, Cincinnati Symphony, and other major orchestras in the United States and Europe. Additionally, Rogers’s treatise The Art of Orchestration (1951) was long regarded as an essential reference for students of composition.

Prof. Rogers died on May 24, 1968, following a heart attack. At the time of his passing, he was survived by his widow, Elizabeth Clark Rogers; a daughter, Mrs. Anne Zehnder; and three grandchildren.


The Bernard Rogers Collection was a gift to the Sibley Music Library in 2003 upon the death of the composer’s widow, Mrs. Elizabeth (Betty) Rogers. The printed music that comprises Series 7 (Annotated miniature scores) had been given to the Library by Mrs. Rogers at an earlier time (previously accessioned as SC1998.64).

Scope and content

The Bernard Rogers Collection comprises Professor Rogers’s compositions (including sketches, manuscripts, published imprints, and reproductions), recordings, professional papers, compositions by his students at the Eastman School of Music, and annotated scores from Rogers’s personal library. Most of the musical materials are manuscript or manuscript reproductions, although some sketches and annotated/revised drafts are present as well.

Restrictions on use

There are no restrictions on the use of the collection. However, in the case of requests for reproductions, the provisions of the U.S. Copyright Law (1976) and its revisions do apply. Requests for reproductions of materials will be granted only by the written permission of the legatees insofar as they are the copyright holder over the collection items.


RTWSC houses a growing corpus of collections containing of professional papers of composers associated with the Eastman School of Music, including both faculty members and alumni. Among that number are the collections of several composers who were colleagues of Prof. Rogers during his tenure at Eastman, namely Howard Hanson, Burrill Phillips, Wayne Barlow, Louis Mennini, and Samuel Adler. Additionally, several of Rogers’s composition students have also deposited their manuscripts and/or papers at RTWSC. To date, that number includes Louis Angelini (MM 1960, PhD 1968), Wayne Barlow (BM 1934, MM 1935, PhD 1937), William Bergsma (BA 1942, MM 1943), Gordon Binkerd (MM 1941), Will Gay Bottje (DMA 1955), David Diamond, Sydney Hodkinson (BM 1957, MM 1958), John La Montaine (BM 1942), W. Francis McBeth, Burrill Phillips (BM 1932, MM 1933), Gardner Read (BM 1936, MM 1937), P. Peter Sacco (MM 1954, DMA 1958), Malcolm Seagrave (MM 1952, DMA 1961), and Donald H. White (MM 1947, PhD 1952). Of particular note is the David Diamond–Bernard Rogers Correspondence, a collection of more than 180 letters from Bernard Rogers to David Diamond dating from immediately after Diamond left the Eastman School until Rogers’s death.

Several of Bernard Rogers’s compositions are also held in Sibley’s circulating collection and in Eastman’s Ensemble Library. Outside of the Sibley Music Library, Syracuse University holds a small collection (1.5 linear feet) of Bernard Rogers’s papers (e.g., correspondence, programs, and press clippings) and manuscripts.


The Bernard Rogers Collection has been organized into seven main series, which are further subdivided as described below:

Series 1: Pencil sketches

This series is comprised of loose sketches, sketchbooks, partial drafts, and unidentified manuscripts produced by Bernard Rogers. The materials were received housed in discrete folders, and that organization has been preserved here. The materials have been arranged in alphabetical order by the title of the final composition (where available); the alphabetical sequence is followed by several folders that contain multiple sketches or untitled sketches.

Series 2: Manuscript and facsimiles

This series is comprised of drafts, fair and final copies, Ozalid masters, and manuscript reproductions of works composed by Bernard Rogers. Scores and parts are represented. The materials in the series have been arranged in alphabetical order by title.

N.B. The music manuscripts in Series 2 are housed in storage containers appropriate to their respective dimensions. The varying dimensions of the scores, parts, and copies throughout this series resulted in an inevitable discrepancy between the alphabetical organization and the numeric box order.

Series 3: Published imprints

This series contains 29 published items composed by Bernard Rogers. The materials in this series represent a variety of genres and instrumentations—from cantatas and orchestral works to pieces for solo instrument. The works have been arranged in alphabetical order by title.

Series 4: Sound recordings

This series consists primarily of audio discs (10” and 12” discs) of compositions by Bernard Rogers. Additionally, two audio discs contain works by Rogers’s student Elizabeth Clark, and the sub-series of audio reels are recordings of compositions by various composers from Rogers’s library. The two formats represented, namely audio discs and 7” audio reels, have been assigned to their own respective sub-series, as indicated below:

Sub-series A: Audio discs
Sub-series B: Magnetic reels

Series 5: Personal papers

Sub-series A: Personal papers of Bernard Rogers
This sub-series is comprised of correspondence, press clippings, concert programs, scrapbooks, photographs, and related biographical materials that document Bernard Rogers’s professional activities. The correspondence includes letters to/from Bernard Rogers as well as letters and cards to his wife (later widow), Betty Rogers; this includes condolence cards and memorials received after Prof. Rogers’s death in 1968.

Sub-series B: Documents pertaining to other composers
Prof. Rogers preserved two folders of material pertaining to two of his students, namely Charles Fussell and James Willey. The respective folders contain several concert programs from performances of Fussell’s and Willey’s works and relevant press clippings.

Series 6: Works by other composers

This series contains music by several of Rogers’s students, namely Elizabeth Clark, Charles Fussell, David Gilbert, Sydney Hodkinson, Burrill Phillips, James Willey, and Ruth Shaw Wylie. Also included in this series is a holograph manuscript of a theme for piano by William Wood. Several of the scores included in this series were dedicated to Bernard Rogers or Elizabeth Rogers. Additionally, there is one volume containing four variations on themes by Bernard Rogers composed by four of Rogers’s colleagues in the composition department (likely produced in honor of Rogers’s retirement in 1967).

Series 7: Annotated miniature scores

This series consists of printed music scores, most being miniature orchestral scores, which were heavily annotated by Bernard Rogers. The scores are arranged in alphabetical order by composer surname.