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The Horatio Parker Papers

Call Number: MSS 32

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the Horatio Parker Papers was a gift from his wife, Anna Ploessl Parker, four years after his death. Eva J. O'Meara (Music Librarian at Yale, 1924-1952) writes: "Mrs. Parker, when she was about to leave New Haven in 1923, brought to Sprague Hall all the manuscripts left in Dr. Parker's possession at the time of his death. They were accepted as a gift to Yale University for the Library of the School of Music, and were formally acknowledged by the University Librarian in a letter of April 25, 1923. There were among them a few manuscripts that Mrs. Parker wished to be given to other persons or institutions; they were sent out as she desired." A preliminary arrangement of this gift was done by Miss O'Meara with the help of a few of the faculty members of the School of Music.

The remainder of the collection includes: a gift of two boxes of items from Mr. and Mrs. George Herbert Semler (1980 Oct 25); a gift of a few items from Isabel S. Curtis (1981 Aug); the purchase-of a scrapbook belonging to Thomas Dwight Goodell (1977/78); and several items which were transferred from the Yale University Library and from the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library (1982 Mar). Any items which are not part of Mrs. Parker's initial gift have their provenance indicated on the item and/or folder. The greater part of the papers is comprised of musical works by Parker. There is a broad range of genres including: Choral Works; Opera and Incidental Music; Songs and Other Vocal Works; Anthems and Services; Keyboard Works; Orchestral and Chamber Music; and Miscellaneous Works. The music includes holographs as well as manuscripts in other hands and published works. The remainder of the papers contains correspondence, program, clippings, writings by Parker, biographical information, and miscellaneous items. There are occasionally cross-references between series.


  • 1863-1972 (inclusive)


Language of Materials

Materials chiefly in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers by appointment. There are no restricted materials in the collection. Please contact the Special Collections staff to schedule an appointment. Some of the materials may be stored at the Library's off-campus shelving facility, so researchers should allow at least two business days to have the appropriate boxes paged.

Conditions Governing Use

The Horatio Parker Papers are the physical property of the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library of Yale University. Copyrights belong to the composers and authors, or their legal heirs and assigns.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Horatio Parker Papers were established in the Music Library of Yale University by Anna Ploessel Parker in 1923.


In 8 series as follows: I. Music. II. Correspondence. III. Programs. IV. Clippings. V. Writings. VI. Biographical Material. VII. Miscellaneous Items. VIII. Sound Recordings.


30 Linear Feet (43 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Music, correspondence and other papers, photographs and additional materials by and about the American composer and educator Horatio Parker (1863-1919)

Biographical / Historical

Horatio Parker was born in Auburndale, Massachusetts, on September 15, 1863. He took composition lessons with George Whitefield Chadwick in Boston, and then completed his training with three years of study at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich, where Josef Gabriel Rheinberger was numbered among his teachers. After his return to the United States in 1885, Parker held a series of positions as a teacher and church musician.

In 1894 Parker became the Battell Professor of the Theory of Music at Yale University. His appointment and his growing reputation both owed much to the great success of his oratorio Hora Novissima, which received its first performance in New York in 1893, and quickly achieved renown throughout the United States. In 1899, Parker's fame crossed the Atlantic with the performance of Hora Novissima at the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester, England. Cambridge University awarded Parker an honorary doctorate in 1902.

In New Haven Parker continued to distinguish himself as a composer, teacher, conductor, organist, administrator, and writer. He became the first Dean of the Yale School of Music in 1904. Parker was the founding conductor of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and he directed two other New Haven organizations as well: the New Haven Oratorio Society and the Euterpe Society. In addition to his university courses on music theory, he lectured and wrote on music history at Yale and elsewhere.

Parker composed two operas, both with librettos by his former Yale colleague Brian Hooker. Monawon the Metropolitan Opera Prize for the best American opera in 1911 and was produced at the Met in 1912. Fairyland won the prize offered by the Women's Federated Musical Clubs and was performed in Los Angeles in 1914.

Parker died in Cedarhurst, New York on December 18, 1919. His legacy lived on in his many students. Yale holds the papers of several of them, including Charles Ives, David Stanley Smith (Parker's successor as Dean of the School of Music), and Quincy Porter.

Register to The Horatio Parker Papers
Edited Full Draft
Compiled by Adrienne Nesnow
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Music Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Gilmore Music Library Repository

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