Scope and Content

The ROBERT C. SUDERBURG PAPERS, 1951-2000, contain personal and professional materials documenting the career of this noted composer, conductor, pianist and administrator. Included are correspondence, notes and papers, collected programs and reviews, scores, recordings, and photographs. Because it is at times difficult to separate the careers of Robert and Elizabeth Suderburg, such material as correspondence, reviews, programs, etc. includes a great deal of joint material. (Some collected publicity material of Elizabeth's can also be found in Series II.) The Papers are organized into six series: I. Correspondence, II. Notes and Papers, III. Programs and Reviews, IV. Scores, V. Recordings, VI. Photographs.

Series I. Correspondence begins in the mid-1950s and is a mixture of both personal and professional letters. It is arranged alphabetically by individual/group/topic. Because Suderburg was an internationally recognized composer, he made and maintained contacts with many important 20th-century American composers and performers. Correspondence often discusses concert arrangements, and musical gatherings and conferences. Correspondence regarding concert arrangements includes information regarding stage setups, rehearsals, etc., especially interesting for the study of 20th-century music. Of special note is the large number of letters from Suderburg's teacher at the Univ. of Pennsylvania, George Rochberg, as well as letters from George Crumb, whose madrigal books III and IV were written for Elizabeth. Additional letters may also be found in Series III. Programs and Reviews, and correspondence pertaining to the Cornish Institute and the [Williams] Group for 20th Century Music is housed with the rest of the papers relating to these entities in Series II B.

Series II. Notes and Papers contains material documenting Suderburg's musical education, his teaching, and his service as an administrator. In this series are his class notes from undergraduate and graduate courses, including notes and drafts for his doctoral dissertation on Schoenburg. Teaching materials, such as lecture notes, class logs, bibliographies, student work, etc., reflect his teaching activities from the early 1960s through 2000. Materials documenting his administrative work include papers from his service as Chancellor of the North Carolina School of the Arts, President of the Cornish Institute, and founder of the Contemporary Group and the Group for 20th Century Music. Also included in this series, as sub-series C, are curriculum vitae and publicity materials for both Robert and Elizabeth Suderburg.

Series III. Programs and Reviews documents the large number of concerts, 1951-1999, for which Suderburg composed the music, conducted, or in which he or his wife Elizabeth performed. Materials are arranged chronologically, grouped primarily by academic year. (Binders that had originally contained only highlights of specific years were disassembled and material was integrated into the overarching chronologically arrangement.) Many of the reviews of the work of the Contemporary Group are by Wayne Johnson, with whom Suderburg corresponded over the years. Their letters can be found in Series I. A good proportion of this Series contains programs and reviews documenting the career of Elizabeth Suderburg. This series also contains collected posters relating to various performances and lectures, 1974-1999, including the Contemporary Group, the New Music America Festival, the New Music Group of Williams College, and Thompson Concerts.

Series IV. Scores is the most complete portion of the collection, with titles arranged chronologically by the date upon which the composition premiered or the date noted at the beginning or end of the score. Compositions include Suderburg's work in chamber music, choral and vocal music, concerti, orchestral music, piano music, and his automobile orchestras. (An inventory of compositions by type is included as Appendix A.) Titles may contain sketches, drafts or musical fragments documenting the development of the composition process, as well as annotations, changes and markings on the scores. Some sets of scores contain plans that outline overarching ideas or structures at work in the composition. Of special note is a short diary that Suderburg kept in December 1972 regarding the premier of his Orchestra Music I with the Philadelphia Orchestra. If a recording exists of the composition, the CD index number/s will be listed after its description.

Series V. Recordings are of works composed or conducted by Suderburg, and of performances given by his wife Elizabeth. To see the programs that accompany each recording refer to the binder in Box 5a that accompanies this series. The CDs were copied from reel-to-reel tape and, although the original reels are still available, they are unorganized and uncataloged. There are a few CD cuts that remain unlabeled and they have been left as such. A few recordings also have tracks that were not noted, and these have been denoted 'mystery tracks'. Of special interest in this series are Elizabeth's recordings of George Crumb's madrigals, books III and IV of which Crumb wrote especially for her.

Items in Series VI. Photographs were originally numbered and housed in two binders. The contents of each binder were removed and housed in folders with the original index number penciled on the verso of each image. An index of individuals and occasions is included in each folder and as Appendix B of this guide. Photographs are of a professional nature, taken at concerts or gatherings, including photographs of the reception following the opening of the Berkshire New Music Festival, the concert honoring William O. Smith's 70th birthday, and Robert Suderburg and Stu Dempster's 60th birthdays. This series contains photographs of Paul Oliveros, Phil Carlsen, William O. Smith, Mickey and Shirley Bookspan, Stu Dempster, Ernest Brown, Kevin Aanerud, Bela Siki, Kosiko Hillyer, Oliver Smith, Agnes DeMille, William Schuman, William Friday, Kay Kaiser, and Cliff Robertson. Photographs of groups include the Yale Glee Club, the Albertus Magnus College Chorus, the Philadelphia Music Academy Chorus, the Contemporary Group, and the Philadelphia String Quartet. North Carolina School of the Arts honorary degree recipients are also included this series, as are shots of the restored Stevens Center for the Arts. Of special interest are publicity photographs of Elizabeth and Robert Suderburg taken by Michael Avedon, and an early college shot of Robert at the piano.

The Addendum to the Suderburg Papers, received in February 2005, includes additional correspondence, programs and reviews, and miscellaneous items.

Robert C. Suderburg Papers, 1951-2000


Biographical Chronology

Biographical Note

Appendix A. Compositions by Type

Appendix B. Photographs