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Jon Phetteplace Papers
MSS 135  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Restrictions
  • Publication Rights

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Jon Phetteplace Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 135
    Contributing Institution: Mandeville Special Collections Library
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 13.8 Linear feet (6 archives boxes, 6 records cartons, 2 card file boxes and 39 oversize folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1958 - 1991
    Abstract: Papers of Jon Phetteplace, composer and performer of contemporary music. The papers include drafts, transparencies, and ozalid prints of his own scores, as well as materials for the performance of works by others; correspondence with composers and friends; programs from Phetteplace's activity with orchestras and small ensembles; miscellaneous appointment books, calendars, and journals; photographs; subject files; notebooks; and audiorecordings of his work and the work of others. One of the strengths of the collection is the extensive documentation of his time in Italy, both in terms of his own work and that of others.
    Creator: Phetteplace, Jon

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Jon Phetteplace Papers contain the scores of Phetteplace's musical compositions, in manuscript and printed versions. There are also working materials and materials for the performance of works by others. The former consist of notes and sketches, the latter, of printed scores and annotations. Sometimes, the performances involved composing a score for the performance itself, and these are also included. There is a slight amount of correspondence, which is sometimes, as in the case of John Cage's Rozart Mix, directly related to questions of performance. There are also photographs that document various activities, including photo-projections, and a large number of audiotapes, which document performances of both Phetteplace's work and that of his contemporaries.
    The papers document Phetteplace's major activities from 1965 to 1991. From 1968 to 1972, he was very active as a composer and performer of new music-the materials related to these activities have been described above. In addition, there is extensive documentation of his life from 1972 onwards, in the form of daily records, such as journals and notebooks.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series includes Phetteplace's correspondence from 1965 to 1991 and is arranged alphabetically. The amount of correspondence is not extensive, sometimes consisting of only single letters or postcards. This is the case for Larry Austin, Allan Bryant, Peter Garland, Otto Luening, Pauline Oliveros, and Ned Rorem. There are multiple letters, however, from several correspondents, most particularly, Robert Ashley, Sylvano Bussotti, Alvin Curran, C.F. Peters, John Cage, Giuseppe Chiari, and Pietro Grossi. The correspondence with Bussotti, Chiari, and Grossi is in Italian. The correspondence with C.F. Peters and John Cage documents a dispute over tapes of Cage's Imaginary Landscape No.5 and Where Are We Going? And What Are We Doing? that Phetteplace prepared for performance in 1967.
    The MUSICAL WORKS BY PHETTEPLACE series is arranged in two subseries: A) Musical Compositions, and B) Working Materials.
    A) The Musical Compositions subseries consists of scores for individual works. In addition to finished scores, there are sometimes sketches and notes that Phetteplace kept with the scores, which take the form of both drafts of works in progress and instructions on performance.
    B) The Working Materials subseries contains drafts of works that remain unfinished, notebooks in which notes for works remain bound with other material, and texts, such as computer routines, which are not clearly defined as works. The notebooks contain details on the planning and execution of performances during the late sixties and early seventies. These notebooks double as a chronicle of performances with MEV and with others. Lastly, there is a significant amount of material for computer music, often consisting of transcriptions of J.S. Bach.
    The MUSICAL WORKS BY OTHERS series consists of scores that Phetteplace performed, most notably the preparations for making the tape of Cage's Imaginary Landscape No.5. Also included are several scores by Giuseppe Chiari and Pietro Grossi, as well as a performance piece by Takehisa Kosugi, which Petteplace performed in the early 1970s.
    The PROGRAMS series contains announcements and/or programs for many of the concerts which featured Phetteplace, either as a performer or composer. These range from 1963 to 1988. There are also newspaper articles, in Italian, that document the concerts in Italy, from 1965 to 1969.
    The PHOTOGRAPHS series consists of loose and mounted prints, most of which are of musicians and composers. Also included are family photographs. Otherwise, most of the photographs are by Phetteplace. In June 1990, before giving the papers to UCSD, Phetteplace dictated an inventory, for which he numbered all of the prints, so that he could enumerate them. A transcription of the photography portion of the inventory is found in the Index file. No negatives are included, and there are many images which Petteplace refers to, such as of bristlecone pines, that are not found in the collection. Most of the images are from his time in Italy, and are of composers and performers that he worked with.
    The WRITINGS series is arranged in two subseries: A) Miscellaneous Writings, and B) Appointment Books, Calendars, and Journals.
    A) The Miscellaneous Writings subseries contains an essay, which Phetteplace wrote with Francis J. Busco, a collaborator on some of Phetteplace's computer music compositions, on the notation of computer music. It also includes the translation of an article by Giuseppe Chiari.
    B) The Appointment Books, Calendars, and Journals subseries documents, sometimes in great detail, Phetteplace's life, from 1973 to 1989. Earlier journal-type entries were entered in notebooks that were used primarily for his creative work; these are found in the Working Materials subseries of MUSICAL WORKS BY PHETTEPLACE.
    The MISCELLANEOUS series includes biographical materials, such as Phetteplace's passport and a photocopy of his birth certificate. A number of curriculum vitae and brief autobiographical writings are collected here. In addition, various subject files and information on the musical instruments that Phetteplace owned are also found in this series.
    The AUDIO RECORDINGS series documents performances that Phetteplace participated in, as well as performances of Phetteplace's music. Most of the recordings are on reel-to-reel tape, although some were also transferred, by Phetteplace, to cassette tape. There are also examples of concrete music that he recorded in Venice and elsewhere, and recordings of music that Phetteplace made by taping Italian radio. Some works are found only in the AUDIO RECORDINGS series, such as "Symphony" (1957) and "Sound City" (1973). Occasionally, the boxes include notes for performance, or lists of contents, if none are provided on the packaging. The score for "Sound City" is housed with the tape. As noted above, Phetteplace prepared an oral inventory of the collection, and the tapes were subsequently numbered according to the order in which he worked through them. This inventory sometimes provides details that are not always available in the notations on the tapes themselves. A transcript is found in the Index to Audio recordings file.


    Jon Dale Phetteplace was born February 4, 1940, in Fullerton, California. He studied cello with Frieda Balmfante before graduating from Fullerton High School in 1958, and after a year in Vienna, Austria (1959-1960), he moved to Siena, Italy, where he took masterclasses at the Accademia Chigiana. He then studied with Mario Bianchi and Pietro Grossi at the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini in Florence, where, with Grossi, he began to study electronic music and composition. After returning briefly to the United States, Phetteplace moved back to Italy, where in 1965 he again studied cello and electronic music in Florence and worked in the Studio Fiorentino di Fonologica Musicale (S2FM). He also worked with Sylvano Bussotti, creating photographic projections for Bussotti's opera Passion Selon Sade. By 1966, he was active as a performer in Italy, and moved to Rome in 1967, where, until 1968, he was associated with Musica Elettronica Viva (MEV), a group known for performing live electronic music. MEV is also known for not having any fixed set of members, although, according to Phetteplace, the original ensemble was constituted by Allan Bryant, Alvin Curran, Carol Plantamura, Frederic Rzewski, Ivan Vandor, and himself. Phetteplace participated in many of the concerts that MEV gave throughout Europe, and these concerts sometimes featured his music. He also participated in The Contraband, an offshoot of MEV, which also featured a rotating set of members, including Steve Lacy and Richard Teitelbaum, both of whom also collaborated with MEV.
    Phetteplace left Italy in 1969, returning to Southern California, where he continued to be active as a composer, although there is a shift in emphasis away from composition after 1972. In the early 1970s, he was active as a cellist in a number of Southern California orchestras and was associated with UCSD as a student and employee, working with the tape archives in the Music Library. From 1972 to 1985, he lived in Harry Partch's former home in Encinitas. He was also active as a photographer, having a one-person show at the Unicorn Gallery in La Jolla in 1973, and producing five books of his own "photo-prints" from 1976-1980.
    Phetteplace moved from California to Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1985, and in 1988, he moved to Tucson, Arizona. In Tucson, he returned to photography, printing many of the images that he had taken in Europe in the 1960s.

    Preferred Citation

    Jon Phetteplace Papers, MSS 135. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available


    Audio recordings in Series 8 are restricted; researchers must request a listening copies be produced. Fragile documents have been restricted for preservation reasons; photocopies can be found in place of these originals.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.



    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Composers--United States--Biography
    Music -- United States -- 20th Century