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The Ernest Trow Carter Papers

Call Number: MSS 40

Scope and Contents

The Ernest Trow Carter Papers contain sketches, manuscript scores, and published editions of Carter's musical compositions, including operas, orchestral works, chamber music, keyboard pieces, choral music, and songs. The Papers also contain music composed by others and arranged by Carter. The correspondence includes letters to and from Carter and performers, composers, publishers, musical organizations, and family members. Carter's life and work are further documented by: production materials; programs; clippings; photographs; writings by and about Carter; and financial records and memorabilia.


  • 1879-1974 (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 Ernest Trow Carter 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 Ernest Trow Carter Papers were established in the Music Library of Yale University in 1983 by Carter's grandchildren, Edward L. Richards, Jr., Ernest C. Richards, and Laura L. Robertson.


In 11 series as follows: I. Music by Carter. II. Music arranged by Carter. III. Music by others. IV. Production materials. V. Correspondence. VI. Programs. VII. Clippings, press notices, and advertisements. VIII. Photographs. IX. Writings. X. Bills, receipts, contracts, and certificates. XI. Memorabilia.


18 Linear Feet (44 boxes)

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Music, correspondence, photographs, and additional materials by and about the American composer, conductor, and organist Ernest Trow Carter (1866-1953)

Biographical / Historical

Ernest Trow Carter was born in Orange, New Jersey, on September 3, 1866. He graduated from Princeton University cum laude in 1888. Carter earned an M.A. in law from Columbia University in 1899, and would later receive an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Princeton in 1932.

While at Princeton, Carter led the Glee Club and Chapel Choir, and composed and arranged music for these groups. In 1892 he became musical director of the Thacher School in Ojai, California. Two years later he moved to Berlin to study composition and organ. Upon returning to the United States, Carter resumed his organ studies. He also served as lecturer in music, organist, and choirmaster at Princeton from 1899 to 1901. His interest in composition led him to resign from this position, and during the next year he sang in the Metropolitan Opera Chorus in order to study opera technique.

Carter composed works for orchestra, band, chorus, and keyboard, as well as songs, chamber and instrumental music, and stage works. The three major stage works include two operas, The Blonde Donna and The White Bird, and a ballet-pantomime, Namba. Carter himself wrote the libretto for The Blonde Donna. It premiered in concert form in New York in February 1912. The first full performance was by the New York Opera Comique at the Brooklyn Little Theater on December 8, 1931. The White Bird, composed to a libretto by Brian Hooker, placed second among eighteen entries in the Hinshaw Contest of 1916-1917. Its first performance, also in concert form, was at Carnegie Chamber Music Hall on May 23, 1922, with Carter conducting. The first full performance of The White Bird was at the Studebaker Theater, in Chicago, on March 6, 1924. The Opera in Our Language Foundation sponsored the performance, and awarded Carter the first David Bispham Memorial Medal. On November 15, 1927, The White Bird became the first American opera to be performed at the Municipal Theater of Osnabrück, Germany. Namba was first presented at the Columbus School for Girls in May, 1924, and later performed by the Charlotte Lund Opera Company and the Aleta Doré Ballet at the Shakespeare Theater of New York, on April 22, 1933.

Ernest Trow Carter died in Stamford, Connecticut, on June 21, 1953.

Register to The Ernest Trow Carter Papers
Edited Full Draft
Compiled by Adrienne 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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