Ms. Coll. 132
Harrison, Lou, 1917-2003. Music manuscripts, sketches, poetry, and drawings. 1945-1991:
Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Location: Merritt Room
Call No.: Ms. Coll. 132
Repository: Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Harrison, Lou, 1917-2003
Title: Music manuscripts, sketches, poetry, and drawings,
Quantity: 1 collection (1 box, 46 items)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Contains working musical manuscripts, drafts, sketches, and fragments, as well as
poetry, drawings, and correspondence.
Acquired by the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library in 2010.
Additional information may be found in related collections held by other repositories.
- Lou Harrison Archive at University of California, Santa Cruz
- Lou Harrison Archive at Mills College
- San Jose State University School of Music and Dance
American composer Lou Harrison (1917-2003) is particularly noted for his percussion
music, his exploration of cross-cultural compositional techniques, his fascination
with and employment of just intonation tuning systems, and his synthesis of Asian
and Western musics. Several of his compositions call for mixed ensembles of Asian
and Western instruments. He was particularly interested in the gamelan and, in addition
to writing for that ensemble, constructed his own 'American gamelan.'
Lou Harrison was born in Portland OR in 1917 but spent his formative years in northern
CA after his family settled there in 1926. He studied music at San Francisco State
College beginning in 1935; while there he enrolled in Henry Cowell's course "Music
of the Peoples of the World." He also studied composition with Cowell, who became
a lifelong friend and influential mentor. Harrison later studied with Arnold Schoenberg
at UCLA. During the 1940s, while in New York, he wrote reviews for the New York Herald Tribune and also wrote for Modern Music. He taught at various institutions, including Mills College in Oakland, CA (1937-40;
1980-85), UCLA (1942), Black Mountain College in NC (1951-53), and various other institutions.
In 1953 he settled in Aptos, CA. Travels to Asia in 1961-62, as well as intensive
study of the Korean double-reed p'iri, the Chinese psaltery, and the Indonesian gamelan
inspired him to incorporate Asian influences into his musical style and to write works
combining Eastern and Western instruments.
In addition to being a composer he was a published poet, an accomplished painter
and was renowned for his calligraphic script.
The collection contains working drafts, sketches, and fragments, of several of Harrison's
musical compositions, mostly from the 1970s and 1980s, including the Elegiac Symphony, the Piano concerto with selected orchestra, the Fourth symphony, the Serenade for guitar with optional percussion, and several others, as well as a manuscript of a piece by Alan Hovhaness, a gamelan
piece by Harrison's students Alexis Alrich and Molly Holm. The manuscripts are filed
in order by title; titles follow those in the Harrison works catalog created by Leta
Miller and Charles Hanson for the Miller/Lieberman book Lou Harrison: Composing a world (Oxford, 1998) Also included are poems and drawings by Harrison, as well as letters
from Virgil Thomson and Alan Hovhaness.
- Series: I. Music Manuscripts
Compositions are by Harrison unless otherwise stated.
- Manuscripts in western notation
- (1). [Composition notebook], A.Ms., ca. 1978-1985. 29f. (57p.)
Contains sketches, drafts, and fragments of [Serenade for guitar with optional percussion] (titled "Suites for tuned guitars" in notebook), [String quartet set], [Clay's quintet], [Faust], Philemon and Baukis, and Mass [for St. Cecilia's Day].
- (2). Choral Parade from "Persephone", A.Ms., 4f., Dec 26, 1951.
Date: Dec 26, 1951.
Written in three parts on treble, alto, and bass clefs, in pencil. Top line set with
text: "Persephone, Persephone; from whence will issue melody?" See item 43 below.
- (3). [Elegiac symphony], A.Ms., 1f.
Sketch in red pencil, on green paper, of the opening of the first movement, Tears of the angel Israfel.Attached slip of paper in unknown hand identifies the sketch.
- (4). [Elegiac symphony], A.Ms., 1f.
Sketch in pencil and red pencil, on green paper, of the opening of the first movement.
- (5). [Elegiac symphony], "Concertino" in III, A.Ms., 7f.
Draft of the third movement, Tears of the Angel Israfel II. Scored only for the solo instruments in the movement, including two contrabass, french
horn, vibes, and two harps. Caption title is Concertino in III.
- (6). [Elegiac symphony], A.Ms., 4f.
Draft in full score and pencil, of mm. 116-142 of the first movement.
- (7). [Faust], Wine-love [song], A.Ms., 2f.
Incomplete draft in full score and pencil. Additional caption title on score: "Cup
to his lips." Text begins "Let the dark vaulted ceiling vanish!"
- (8). [Mass for St. Cecilia's Day], Introitus, A.Ms., 1f.
Incomplete draft in black ink. Three unrelated poems appear at the bottom of the page:
"The Lady Tamma lived in Palmyra", "Rain in New Zealand, " "Love is made of lust."
Note written at the bottom of the page: "Make mass copies for Pam T. [and] Yoni[?]."
- (9). New Moon, Usul, A.MS., 1f.
Sketch in pencil. Note at bottom of p. indicates: "Sketch for "Usul" in music for
Eric Hawkins' "New Moon." Composed in 1986, and choreographed by Erick Hawkins to
be performed by his dance company. It was premiered by the Erick Hawkins Dance Company Nov. 28, 1989 at the Joyce Theater in New York.
- (10). [Piano concerto with selected orchestra], A.Ms., 5f.
Sketches and incomplete draft of the first movement. Draft indicates mm. 105-181 which
correspond closely but not exactly to published score. At the top of the first page:
"Code material, sequence to DEV." On first page: "Antifony, solo [and] Ork or jahla
to little "Round tune?""
- (11). [Piano concerto with selected orchestra], A.Ms., 3f. (7p.)
Sketch and incomplete draft, in pencil. Sketch is titled "Pfte conc."; one section
is labelled "Finale." Incomplete draft of mm. 1-94 of the first movement, primarily
the solo part with only basic outline of orchestra.
Digital copy available. Consult library staff for 012564798_11
- (12). [Piano concerto with selected orchestra], A.Ms., 2f.
Sketches in pencil, red, green, and brown ink. Also written on the first page: tuning
instructions in red ink, list of composers and works at the bottom of the page, and
dedication: "To K.J., with admiration a[nd] affection this Piano Concerto (with Selected
Orchestra)." The concerto was dedicated to Keith Jarrett who premiered it Oct. 20,
1985 at Carnegie Hall.
- (13). [Piano concerto with selected orchestra], A.Ms., 15f.
Sketches and drafts of the fourth movement, in pencil with some markings in red, blue,
and green ink. First page is headed 'IIII', and contains sketches from the fourth
movement, with references to '1st cannon [sic] with refr.' and '2nd cannon [sic] with
- (14). [Fourth symphony], A.MS., 1f.
Sketch containing "guide to "Mipil" [and] Colotomy from Mvt. I, "Last Symphony."
- (15). [Fourth symphony], A.MS., 4f. (4p.)
Full score, in pencil, titled "Discarded section of Mvt. III, "Last Symphony."
- (16). Trio for keyboard, 1945. A.Ms.S., 3 parts.
Keyboard, viola, and cello parts, in pencil and with performance markings. Apparently
a trio arr. of Triphony, composed in 1945 for keyboard. Harrison prepared an arrangement for violin, viola,
cello in 1946.
Transcription of t.p.: To Oscar Baradinsky / Trio for keyboard / Lou Harrison / 1945 / In / New York.
At end of keyboard part: "First Thursday in Advent 1945 in New York."Triphony was dedicated to Oscar Baradinsky.
- (17). Threnody for Carlos Chavez, A.Ms., 2p.
Sketch in pencil. For viola and Javenese gamelan. Additional caption title: Main Bersama-sama II, with viola
- (18). [Unidentified vocal piece], A.Ms., 1f. (2p.)
Song with bass line accompaniment on text "Starting out the window I look only for
- (19). [Unidentified choral piece], A.Ms., 1p.
25-measure fragment, scored for chorus and orchestra. The only text appearing on the
p. is is "Oh Father".
- (20). [Unidentified sketch], A.Ms., 1p.
Identified only as "A section for solo strings with trombone solo in 5ths et 4ths
etc." Caption title indicates "Inversions."
- (21). [Young Caesar}. Scene IIII, A.Ms., 7p.
Inconplete draft of Scene IIII, on green paper and in pencil. Includes Scene IIII(a),
Narrator, and Scene IIII(b) Cossutia's despair.
- (22). Hovhaness, Alan, 1911-2000, Meditations on the black dragon, Nov. 7, 1964. A.Ms.S., 1p.
Date: Nov. 7, 1964.
Inscribed "To Lou Harrison."
- (23). [Traditional], [Epitaph of] Seikilos, A.Ms., 1f., 2p.
Transcription of ancient greek song (epigram) in Harrison's hand. Below title is the
note: "Tune in Mesom on E." On the reverse side is a transcription of Euripedes' first
stasimon from Orestes.
- Manuscripts in gamelan notation
- (24). Gending Alexander = Pel., Barang,A.Ms., 1p.
In numeric gamelan notation. Single sheet is folded to make 4p. with piece on one
and calligraphic practice on the remaining three. Gending Alexander was first performed April 22-24, 1981 at the University of Delaware. In numeric gamelan
- (25). Ladr[ang] Mondro Guno Pl. 6, A.Ms., 1p.
In numeric gamelan notation and in pencil with red ink markings. Identity and attribution
of the piece is unconfirmed.
- (26). Alrich, Alexis and Molly Holm, Perséphonĕ (dance). Ketawang "Coming to meet", Slendro. 1p.
Numberic gamelan notation in Harrison's hand and in black and red ink. Alrich and
Holm were Harrison's students.
- (27). [Unidentifed piece for gamelan], A.Ms., 1f.
In numeric gamelan notation with one stave of music in Western notation and bass clef
at the bottom of the p. On reverse side is a note "Done - Late 50s".
- Series: II. Manuscripts other than music
- (28). [Sketchpad]. A.Ms.S., 28 p.
Contains pencil drawings, calligraphic practice, and signed draft of letter to "Oliver."
- (29). The Path at West Holding. A.Ms., Nov. 24, 1991
Date: Nov. 24, 1991
Fair copy of poem, in ink.
- (30). [Blue ink drawing of male nude.] A.Ms.
- (31). [Pencil drawing of male nude, signed.] A.Ms.S.
- (32). [Pencil drawing of male nude, signed.] A.Ms.S.
- (33). [Black ink and red pencil drawing of male genitalia.] A.Ms.S.
- (34). [Blue and black ink self portrait.] A.Ms.
- (35). [Crayon self portrait.] A.Ms.
- (36). [Black and read pencil drawing of woman's head in 3/4 profile.] A.Ms.S., July 31,
Date: July 31, 1974.
- (37). [Pencil drawing of male nude on envelope.] A.Ms.
Return address is from Gordon-Mager. Addressed to Lou Harrison and Bill Colvig in
Aptos and postmarked Mar 22, 1975.
- (38). [Black ink drawing of seated male nude.] A.Ms.
- (39). [Brown ink with yellow wash drawing of male nude.] A.Ms.
- (40). [Pencil drawing of male and child against a backdrop of trees and dedication of Elegiac Symphony. A.Ms., 1p.
Text of dedication surrounds the drawing.
- (41). [Watercolor of tree.] A.Ms.S., 1p., 1953.
Contains hand-printed birthday greetings to his father.
- (42). [Pencil sketch for a decorative initial.] A.Ms., 1p.
- (43). [Poetry drafts and sketches.] A.Ms., 1f., (2p.)
Contains an outline for what looks to be a work based on Greek mythological characters:
Act I-The Abduction, Act II-The wandering of Demeter, Act III-Hades and Persephone.
On p. is the text for a chorus with text: "Persephone, Persephone; from whence will
issue melody?" See item 2 above.
- Series: III. Letters
- (44). Hovahaness, Alan, 1911-2000. A.L.s.; Seattle, WA, 8 Nov 1975. 1s. (2p.)
- (45). Thomson, Virgil, 1896-1989. A.L.s.; New York, NY, 15 Feb 1975. 1s. (1p.)
- Series: IV. Printed items
- (46). Nineteen items, Aptos, CA, 1970. 18p.
Self-published booklet containing poems, musical pieces in musical or numeric notation,
and abstract drawings.
Scope and content note
"Items". Oleanders. Climbing Mt. Whitney. "Song-tune - "Yates one"." "From the Korean, 'For the foundation of Korea' - Kae-chun-boo. "The two important t's are time [and] tune." "Variations on a motive by Harry Partch."
"Four inscriptions in books for friends." "My back recovered." "To Robert Hughes,
The garden at one [and] a quarter moons for psaltery, or cheng." On the coast. In troubled bed. "To Dr. Lee Hye Ku on his sixtieth birthday." "A song tune - "Thomson one."" At the pinnacles, 1. At the pinnacles, 2. "The triple refrain at Yang-Kwan Pass." Spring in Nak Yang with Dr. Lee Hye-Ku from the Chinese. "My worries raise me from my bed to battle with
plans." "To a gikuyu musician."
Keyboard instrument music
Harrison, Lou, 1917-2003
Hovhaness, Alan, 1911-2000
Thomson, Virgil, 1896-1989