Scope and Content of Collection
Other Finding Aids
Title: Lou Harrison Papers: Music Manuscripts
Collection number: MS 132, ser.1
University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library.
Special Collections and Archives
Santa Cruz, California 95064
Abstract: Series 1: Music Manuscripts contains complete
autograph music scores, sketches, revisions and fragments produced by Harrison
during his seventy five years of writing music.
Physical location: Stored in Special Collections and
Archives: Advance notice is required for access to the papers.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection:
English Latin Esperanto
The collection is open for research.
Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary
rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For
permission to publish or to reproduce the material, please contact the Head of
Special Collections and Archives.
Lou Harrison Music Manuscripts. MS 132, ser.1. Special Collections and
Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Gift from Lou Harrison 1991-2003.
Special Collections, with appreciation, has received
funding to acquire and process the Lou Harrison Archive. The
Rex Foundation and the
Unbroken Chain, two foundations established by
members of the
Grateful Dead, generously contributed to the
acquisition of Lou Harrison material for the Archive. Members of the Grateful
Dead had a long association with Harrison, having performed together on several
occasions at San Francisco Symphony programs, and they recognized the
importance of Harrison's musical contributions. Without their support some of
Harrison's essential manuscripts and recordings would not have been part of the
Archive. Special Collections also acknowledges Richard Faggioli for his
contributions towards the archiving and preservation of music at UCSC and for
his continued interest shown to Special Collections' holdings. We are
particularly grateful to the
Title: Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
New York for awarding a grant to Special Collections to support preparing the
inventory and preserving Lou Harrison's music manuscripts.
Delmas Foundation support has allowed for the
construction of this detailed electronic finding aid of the music manuscript
collection available through the Online Archive of California. We thank the
Delmas Foundation for assisting us in making this
special resource accessible to the public and for their continued efforts to
support scholarly resource sharing beyond institutional boundaries.
are particularly grateful to Charles Hanson, longtime personal archivist to Lou
Harrison, who patiently identified the music manuscripts within the Archive and
prepared the inventory provided in this Finding Aid.
Lou Harrison (1917-2003) is recognized especially for his percussion
music, his work with just intonation tuning systems, and his syntheses of Asian
and Western musics. His compositions have combined instruments from various
cultures and utilized many of his own construction. His style is marked by a
notable melodicism: even his percussion and 12-note works have a decidedly
Harrison spent his formative years in northern
California, where his family settled in 1926. In 1935 he entered San Francisco
State College (now University), and in his three semesters there studied the
horn and clarinet, took up the harpsichord and recorder, sang in vocal
ensembles and composed works for early instruments. In Spring 1935 he enrolled
in Henry Cowell's course "Music of the Peoples of the World" and began
composition lessons with Cowell, who proved one of the strongest influences in
Harrison also collaborated with West Coast
choreographers and in 1937 was engaged by Mills College in Oakland, California
as a dance accompanist. At Mills in 1939 and 1940, and in San Francisco,
Harrison and John Cage staged high-profile percussion concerts, for one of
which they jointly composed
Double Music for Four Percussionists.
In August 1942
Harrison moved to Los Angeles, where he taught music to dancers at University
of California, Los Angeles and enrolled in Arnold Schoenberg's weekly
composition seminar. The following year he moved to New York. There he wrote
over 300 reviews for the New York Herald Tribune, premiered (as conductor)
Third Symphony, and composed works in a dissonant
contrapuntal style. But New York life proved difficult and in 1947 Harrison
suffered a nervous breakdown that ultimately served as a catalyst for a change
in his compositional language. Following this traumatic event, Harrison turned
more deliberately to melodicism and pentatonicism, and embarked on studies of
tuning systems. After a two-year residency at Black Mountain College in North
Carolina, he returned to the West Coast. In 1954 he settled in Aptos,
California where he remained for the rest of his life.
Studies in Korea
and Taiwan in 1961-62 and an intensive exploration of Indonesian gamelan
beginning in 1975 inspired Harrison to bring Asian influences into his musical
style and to write works combining Eastern and Western instruments. In 1967
Harrison met William Colvig (1917-2000), an electrician and amateur musician
who became his partner and collaborator in instrument-building and tuning
experiments. Together they built three instrument sets evoking the gamelan. In
his last years, Harrison returned more avidly to composing for Western
instruments. He wrote four symphonies, various concerti, and numerous chamber
Throughout his life, Harrison articulated political views of
multiculturalism, ecological responsibility and pacifism in both writings and
musical compositions. He and Colvig were also active politically in the gay
rights movement. In addition to his musical compositions and prose writings,
Harrison, a published poet and a painter, was renowned for his calligraphic
script, and even designed his own computer fonts.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Lou Harrison Music
Manuscripts series consists of autograph music scores, sketches, and revisions.
Organized in categories by genre according to the Grove's Music Dictionary, the
entries include instrumentation, dates of composition, movement titles and
premiere dates as well as cross references and notes. These details are
provided by the Harrison works catalogue created by Leta Miller and Charles
Hanson for the Miller/Lieberman book
Lou Harrison: Composing a World (Oxford, 1998). In addition
to his performed works, the collection includes numerous unfinished works,
works in process, small "gift" pieces, and experimental sketches. There are
transcriptions of traditional Asian pieces, musical examples from workshops,
and experimental works using specified tones and tunings. These pieces,
unpublished and not authorized for performance, are inventoried by description,
such as, 7-tone equal temperament sketch, unfinished 3-tone song, Just
Intonation sketches, but not by specific date or genre.
each genre are listed chronologically by date of completion unless otherwise
stated. Complete works later used as movements of larger works are listed
separately because (1) they were complete compositions at the earlier date and
remain as separate viable compositions on their own; and (2) new material was
added when they were incorporated into the later composition.
Manuscript collection contains over 113 complete representations of the variety
and styles that the composer achieved in his 75 years of writing music.
Included are the earliest juvenilia from age ten that Harrison himself said
"are perfectly dreadful" as well as the percussion and dance compositions from
the 1930's and 40's that are still considered signature pieces and as Lou also
said " still hold the boards". Harrison continued composing until his last day
of February 2, 2003. He was on his way to a festival of his music which
included yet another revision of his Third Symphony. His final work,
Scenes from Nek Chand, for American Steel Guitar, shows his
faltering hand after decades of a beautiful calligraphic script and notation.
In various stages of his life, Harrison's script changed dramatically and was
to become one of the factors in helping to identify, and date, fragments and
The Music Manuscript materials are filed in order of movements
with entries indicating pages or folios, scores and sketches. Pages are
numbered at the top right in parenthesis. Harrison is known for his continual
revision process and his "mining" of earlier materials to incorporate in to new
works. To that effect, the manuscripts in this collection were carefully
studied, versions compared, and sketches identified so that the most complete
picture of his compositional process could emerge. In extreme cases of
cross-referenced manuscripts (such as the
Political Primer where material ended up in the
Third symphonies), all folios and sketches are retained in
the original work with pencil indications where fragments and themes were
extracted and to which work they were taken. In other instances of multiple
revisions, such as the
Fourth Symphony, bound published scores are included because
they contain autograph revision sketches. In cases where entire movements are
taken out and replaced (such as
First Suite for Strings/New First Suite for Strings 1937,
1948, 1995), all materials extant can be directly identified in the
cross-reference section of the notes. In the few instances where one of the
"revisions" is simply an exchange of movement order, manuscript materials are
listed in the original order so as to avoid confusion where numbering occurs.
Where possible, program and performance notes, written by the composer, are
Harrison often used his preferred spellings of certain words as
Simfony in Freestyle,
Short Set from Lazarus Laughed (or
Set for 4 Haisho which was eventually reverted to Suite to
avoid cultural confusion). He was an early proponent of the universal language
Esperanto. Several of his works are titled in Esperanto and several vocal
pieces are written to be sung or recited in this language. His
Kon-certo por la violono kun perkuta orkestro (
Suite for Violin with Percussion Orchestra),
Nova Odo (
New Ode), and
La Koro Sutro (the Buddhist
Heart Sutra, translated to Esperanto and sung to the
accompaniment of an American gamelan) are examples of what the visitor to this
collection might encounter.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this
collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Harrison, Lou, d. 1917-
Motion picture music
Keyboard instrument music
Other Index Terms Related to this Collection
Lou, 1917- --Lou Harrison archive
Other Finding Aids
Additional information may be found in these related collections held by