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John C. French collection of sheet music based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe

 Collection
Identifier: MS-MUS-034
This collection consists of music inspired by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe--including both vocal settings of Poe's actual text as well as instrumental programmtic pieces more loosely based on a particular work of Poe--dating from 1865 to 1957. There are published and manuscript copies, as well as a few photostatic copies. Especially well-represented are the original manuscripts of Joseph Holbrooke, an English composer working in the first half of the 20th century, whose long-standing interest in Poe produced many pieces of music that he referred to as "Poeana."

Dates

  • 1865 - 1957

Creator

Extent

2.24 Cubic Feet (7 flat boxes (15.5 x 12 x 3 inches) containing 210 pieces of sheet music)

Biographical / Historical

The John C. French collection of sheet music based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe was assembled by John C. French, Librarian and professor of English at Hopkins. French was also a member and president of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore. His research on Poe is in the Edgar Allan Poe Collection (MS 200). French acquired some of the music for the Library through the Turnbull Fund. Much of the music was collected by May Garrettson Evans, also a member and president of the Poe Society.

Arrangement

The items in this collection were originally ordered alphabetically by the title of the musical work. Suites and collections were filed under the title of the entire group of pieces, or else by the first title in the collection for those that lacked an overall title. For the purposes of this collection, which is unified by reference to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, it made sense to alter this arrangement slightly in the Finding Aid so that compositions relating to the same Poe works were grouped together.

In the large majority of cases, the title given to the music composition is exactly the title that Poe gave to the corresponding poem or story, meaning that an alphabetical order of musical title already closely mirrored an alphabetical order of Poe titles. In a few cases, however, the composer altered the name used by Poe or else used a completely different title altogether. In the original order, therefore, these pieces were separated from other musical works relating to the same Poe piece. In the current order in the Finding Aid, all works relating to the same Poe work are grouped together despite any differences in the titling of the corresponding musical works.

Series are labeled according to the Poe title and are arranged in alphabetical order. Two additional series are included at the end: "Other Poe Works" containing poems and stories for which there is only a single corresponding musical work (listed alphabetically by Poe title). And compilations containing musical works that refer to more than one Poe title (listed alphabetically by the title of the musical composition).

The physical arrangement of the items in the folders and boxes remains in the original order, organized alphabetically by the title of the musical composition rather than the Poe title.

Custodial History

The John C. French collection of sheet music based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe was assembled by May Garrettson Evans and John C. French, both members and presidents of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore. The music of E. R. Kroeger was acquired by French from the Kroeger family. The music of Albert J. Buhrman, Jr. was obtained by French from the composer himself.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The music was housed at the John Work Garrett Library and transferred to Special Collections in February 1988.

Description Control

The collection is described at the series level according to the arrangement carried out during processing. Each series contains musical pieces relating to the same Poe work, excepting the "Other Poe Works" series and "Compilations" series which contain musical works relating to more than one Poe title.

The collection is described at the item level according to an indexing system implemented by a previous librarian. It consists of a detailed entry for each piece and may include information such as publication, plate number, or number of copies. Almost all entries at the item level were copied exactly as they appeared in the index, thereby replicating the capitalization and punctuation contained therein. Publication information is supplied when known.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA