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Nicholas Maw papers

Identifier: PIMS-0118

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Scope and Contents

The Nicholas Maw papers (approximately 1956-2009) contain manuscripts, scores, and recordings of musical compositions by Maw, including the opera Sophie's Choice, for which Maw wrote the libretto himself based on the novel by William Styron. The collection also contains correspondence to and from Maw; programs and reviews of performances of works by Maw; lecture notes and other documents from Maw's teaching appointments at Yale University and the Peabody Institute; and books, scores, manuscripts, and recordings given to Maw by his acquaintances and colleagues.

The collection includes digital representations of materials from Judah Adashi's collection of Nicholas Maw. These materials include Maw's annotated copy of the novel Sophie's Choice; Maw's musical analyses of works by Debussy, Stravinsky, Janacek, Sibelius, Ligeti, Lutoslawski, and Davies; and lecture notes and syllabi.


  • Creation: 1956 - 2009


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for use at the Arthur Friedheim Library Archives of the Peabody Institute. Contact for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright. All requests for permission to publish or perform materials in this collection must be submitted in writing to the archivist of the Arthur Friedheim Library.

Biographical / Historical

Nicholas Maw (1935-2009) was a British composer. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1955 to 1958 and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris from 1958 to 1959. As a professor of composition, he taught at the Yale School of Music (1984-1985, 1989), Bard College (1990-1999), and the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University (1998-2008).

Many of Maw's compositions blended romanticism with twentieth-century atonality. Major works include Scenes and Arias (1962, rev. 1966), the large-scale symphonic work Odyssey (1972-1987), and his Violin Concerto (1993). Maw's opera Sophie's Choice, for which the composer wrote his own libretto based on the novel by William Styron, premiered in 2002 at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, under the direction of Simon Rattle. An American premiere by the Washington National Opera was given in 2006 with Marin Alsop conducting.


18 Cubic Feet (42 boxes)

Language of Materials



Nicholas Maw (1935-2009) was a British composer who taught at the Peabody Institute from 1998 to 2008. The Nicholas Maw papers (approximately 1956-2009) contain manuscripts, scores, and recordings of musical compositions by Maw, including the opera Sophie's Choice. The collection also contains correspondence, programs, reviews, lecture notes, and other personal papers.


The Nicholas Maw papers are arranged in five series.

Series 1: Musical compositions by Maw

Series 2: Correspondence

Series 3: Programs and reviews

Series 4: Personal papers

Series 5: Musical works by others

Other Finding Aids

A PDF finding aid exists offline. Please contact the Arthur Friedheim Library Archives for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Maija Hay in 2013.

Digital Collection

Some materials from the Judah Adashi collection of Nicholas Maw papers are available online at

Related Materials

Published scores and recordings of Maw's compositions can be located through the library catalog.

Processing Information

Processed by Nathan Cornelius, 2015-2016. Materials from the Judah Adashi collection scanned by Matt Testa in 2020.

Guide to the Nicholas Maw papers
Matt Testa
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Peabody Archives Repository

Peabody Institute
1 E. Mount Vernon Place
Baltimore MD 21202 USA