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The Charles Shackford Papers

Call Number: MSS 38

Scope and Contents

The Charles Shackford Papers contain the manuscript sketches and scores of Shackford's musical compositions, including orchestral music, choral and chamber works, songs, and arrangements of music by other composers. The correspondence includes letters to and from Shackford and composers, performers, publishers, and musical organizations. Shackford's life and work are further documented by: programs; photographs and biographical materials; teaching materials; clippings and articles; and miscellaneous items.


  • 1934-1984 (inclusive)


Language of Materials

Materials chiefly in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Papers are open to researchers by appointment. There are no restricted materials in the collection. Please contact the Special Collections staff to schedule an appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

The Charles Shackford 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 Charles Shackford Papers were established in the Music Library of Yale University by Jane Wilson Shackford in 1980.


In 12 series as follows: I. Music. II. Writings by Charles Shackford. III. Correspondence. IV. Programs. V. Photographs. VI. Student materials. VII. Teaching materials. VIII. Biographical materials. IX. Memorabilia. X. Clippings and articles. XI. Miscellaneous items. XII. Sound recordings.


10.4 Linear Feet (22 boxes)

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Music, correspondence and other writings, photographs, and additional materials by and about the American composer, conductor, and teacher Charles Shackford (1918-1979)

Biographical / Historical

Charles Reeve Shackford was born in New York City on April 18, 1918. After high school in California and New York, he entered Yale College in 1937 and received the B.A. in 1941. In 1942 he was awarded a bachelor of music degree, and in 1944, a master's, both from the Yale School of Music. His teachers at Yale included Paul Hindemith, David Stanley Smith, Frank Bozyan, and Ralph Kirkpatrick. During this time he also attended the Juilliard Summer School, receiving a certificate in music theory in 1940.

From 1944 to 1946 Shackford taught at Bennett Junior College in Millbrook, New York. Then, in the fall of 1946, he entered Harvard Graduate School, where he held fellowships studying composition and teaching counterpoint from 1947 to 1950. In 1949 he began work on his doctoral dissertation, Intonation in Ensemble String Performance. He was awarded the Ph.D. in 1954 and stayed on until 1956 as a research fellow in acoustics. His teachers at Harvard included Walter Piston and Archibald T. Davison. Among the compositions from this time are the String Trio (1947), the Fantasy for Violoncello and Piano (1951), and the Trio for Winds (1952).

From 1952 to 1962 he was active in numerous capacities, working as an organist and choral conductor, directing the choir and lecturing in music history at Wellesley College from 1952 to 1953, holding posts at churches in the Boston area, leading the Belmont Community Chorus (from 1955 to 1959--he was their first director), directing music at the School of Nursing, Newton-Wellesley Hospital (1956-1962), and playing recitals. He was active in scientific endeavors as well, holding a Ford Foundation fellowship researching acoustics and musical perception, and conducting research in meteorology. Some compositions from this period are the Te Deum in C (1956), An Ode to Learning (1959), and psalm settings.

From 1962 to 1965 Shackford was an associate professor of music and chairman of the music department at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. There he conducted the choir, taught, and continued his acoustical research. Only the Nunc Dimittis (1964) is listed as from this time.

In 1964 he was appointed a visiting professor at Connecticut College, and in 1966 he was made a full professor, holding the chairmanship of his department from 1969 to 1972. These years at Connecticut College, from 1965 to his death in 1979, saw his most intense and fruitful work in composition. Much of this was chamber music, including the Quintet in E-flat (1973) and the two string quartets (1977 and 1979). There are also choral works, such as his Psalm 139 for solo baritone, chorus, and orchestra. But, perhaps most importantly, these are the years of his first efforts in large-scale composition, namely, the Fantasy on Vysehrad for two pianos and orchestra (1969), the Overture Concertante for band (1974), and the Concerto for Brass and Symphonic Ensemble (1976). Shackford was under commission to write a work for the Minnesota Orchestra when his life was suddenly cut short in an automobile accident in New London, Connecticut on April 21, 1979.

The Charles Shackford Papers
Edited Full Draft
Compiled by Andrew Scholtz
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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