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Philip Gordon papers

 Collection 0090-SCPA
Philip Gordon (1894-1983) was a composer, arranger, conductor, and music educator who lived and worked in New Jersey and was active in both state and national music education organizations. The Philip Gordon Papers covers the period from 1924-2005; the bulk of the material dates from 1951-1985. The collection consists of published scores of band, orchestra, instrumental ensemble, choral arrangements and recordings of Gordon's compositions, unpublished scores, financial documents, personal correspondence, scrapbooks, and artwork by his wife, Mrs. Julia Gordon.

Dates

  • 1924-2005
  • Majority of material found within 1951-1985

Use and Access to Collection

There are no restricted files in this collection.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment: http://www.lib.umd.edu/scpa/contact

Extent

41.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Philip Gordon Papers covers the period from 1924-2005; the bulk of the material dates from 1951-1985. This collection consists of forty-one linear feet of performance, publicity, and business files, published and non-published music, sound recordings, literary publications, correspondence, personal items, scrapbooks, and artwork.

Biography

Philip Gordon (1894-1983) was a composer, arranger, conductor, and music educator. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Gordon began his music training with violin lessons at age six. His later teachers included James Efross (violin) and Mandel Svet (violin, piano, and harmony). Gordon received bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees from Columbia University, where he studied English Literature and Germanic Languages. His master's thesis was on German Singspiel, and his dissertation, completed in 1950, was titled "Contemporary Music for Performing Groups." In the 1950s, Gordon married author and educator Julia Weber, and the couple settled in Princeton.

Gordon served as director of the orchestra department of the Master Institute of the Roerich Museum in New York, and as conductor of the Bach Cantata Society in New York, the YM-YWHA Symphony in Newark, and the Newark Civic Symphony. In cooperation with the Works Progress Administration (WPA), Gordon organized several orchestras and bands, which performed concerts in parks, schools, community centers, hospitals, and other public institutions.

As a composer, Gordon strove to balance the experimental ideas and techniques of the 20th century with more traditional compositional techniques. He also believed in the importance of hearing one's own compositions performed. Accordingly, he often created works for particular groups to perform at specific occasions. Gordon also focused on composing high-caliber music for young students, composing for the groups under his direction while a music teacher at South Side High School in Newark. In 1952, he created "Funday Songs," a radio show which was broadcast three times a week into Newark classrooms. These 15-minute radio scripts were comprised of several songs composed by Gordon, with lyrics by Ilo Orleans.

In addition to his conducting and composing, Gordon was involved with several state and national music education organizations. He was director of the music department of the New Jersey Educator's Association, president of the New Jersey Music Educators Association, national vice-chairman of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) Committee on Contemporary Music, and charter member, composer-in-residence, and executive board member of the New Jersey American String Teachers Association (ASTA) Summer String Conference. While at South Side High School, Gordon taught orchestra, chorus, harmony, music appreciation, and music fundamentals. He was also on the faculties of Chicago Musical College, Westminster Choir College, and Seton Hall University.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into ten series.
  1. Performance and Publicity Files
  2. Photographs
  3. Business Files
  4. Music
  5. Writings
  6. Correspondence
  7. Personal
  8. Sound Recordings
  9. Scrapbooks
  10. Artwork

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Published music was willed to the MENC Historical Center by Philip Gordon, and was received in December 1984. Additional materials were given by Gordon’s widow Julia Gordon in October 1989. Additional materials were donated by Nan S. Horsfield in 2018. The scrapbooks within these materials were put into contextual order by the donor, therefore, the original order has been lost.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Published music was willed to the MENC Historical Center by Philip Gordon, and was received in December 1984. Additional materials were given by Gordon’s widow Julia Gordon in October 1989.

Related Material

This material is part of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Historical Center, previously known as the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) Historical Center.

Philip Gordon Collection at Rutgers University.

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Title
Philip Gordon Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Elaine Phelps, Stephanie Keller, John K. Leupold, II, and Grace Chris
Date
1991, with additional processing in January 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States