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Michael Seyfrit papers

 Collection 0216-SCPA
Michael Eugene Seyfrit (b. Lawrence, Kansas, 1947 - d. Portland, Oregon, 1994) was an American composer, performer, historian, and teacher. His composition teachers include Darius Milhaud and Vincent Persichetti. Seyfrit held teaching positions at the Catholic University of America, Wichita State University, and California State University. He taught composition, theory, organology, performance practice, and baroque flute. Seyfrit worked for the Library of Congress as Curator of Musical Instruments for four years and as a researcher and historical orchestrator for the Smithsonian Institution. He was a founding member of the Smithsonian Players in 1976. Seyfrit's compositional output includes a variety of solo and ensemble works featuring both avant-garde techniques and more conventional musical idioms. The collection consists of correspondence, working files, programs, research materials, audio recordings (reel-to-reel and cassette tape), scores (sketches, drafts, manuscripts, and masters), and a hand-crafted baroque bassoon. There are also several items related to Seyfrit's battle with AIDS.

Dates

  • 1965-2003 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1970-1992

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

There are no restricted files in this collection.

Extent

6.00 Linear Feet

Biography

Michael Eugene Seyfrit was born December 16, 1947, in Lawrence, Kansas, and was raised in Pasco, Washington, and Piqua, Ohio. He received a Bachelor of Music (1969) and Master of Music (1970) in composition from University of Kansas. On September 7, 1968, Seyfrit married D. Ann Murphy, a fellow student and clarinetist at University of Kansas; however, they divorced after a few years of marriage. Seyfrit received a BMI Student Composer Award in 1971 while attending University of Kansas. In 1972, he was awarded the Charles Ives Scholarship from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (now the American Academy of Arts and Letters). This award helped him complete additional graduate studies: a Master of Music at the Juilliard School (1972) and a Doctor of Musical Arts in composition from the University of Southern California (1974). His composition teachers include Darius Milhaud, Vincent Persichetti, Halsey Stevens, and Edward Matilla.

Seyfrit held teaching positions at the Catholic University of America, Wichita State University, and California State University. He taught composition, theory, organology, performance practice, and baroque flute. His knowledge of these topics helped him earn the position of Curator of Musical Instruments at the Library of Congress, a position he held for four years. During this period, he compiled the first volume of the catalog for the Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection, Recorders, Fifes, and Simple System Transverse Flutes of One Key (1982). In 1986 he wrote articles on woodwind instruments for The New Harvard Dictionary of Music. While in D.C., Seyfrit also worked as a researcher and historical orchestrator for the Smithsonian Institution's Division of Musical Instruments and Performing Arts, and was a founding member of the Smithsonian Chamber Players in 1976. Seyfrit played recorder, baroque oboe, and baroque flute in a variety of other ensembles, including Hesperus, Wondrous Machine, Berkeley Collegium Musicum, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and the Early Music Guild of Oregon. Eventually moving to Portland, Oregon, Seyfrit worked as a computer programmer while continuing to compose.

Seyfrit's compositional output includes a variety of solo and ensemble works featuring both avant-garde techniques and more conventional musical idioms. One of his final and more notable works is the musical theater production, The Desert Peach (1990), based on Donna Barr's comic book.

In January 1991 Seyfrit was diagnosed with AIDS, diminishing his ability to compose and promote new works. Seyfrit contracted CMV retinitis in January 1993, and became fully blind by April 1994. On May 29, 1994, Seyfrit died in Portland, Oregon.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into four series:
  1. Scores
  2. Recordings
  3. Documents
  4. Instruments

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Michael Seyfrit papers were transferred to SCPA in August 2014 in a number of shipments first coordinated by Gina Genova of ACA on behalf of the Estate of Michael Seyfrit (Kathleen Biddick Smith, executrix). An accrual was received in September 2014 directly from Ms. Biddick Smith, with another in November 2015 of a hand-crafted instrument by Mr. Seyfrit from his sister, Jean Biddick.

Related Material

American Composers Alliance records, Special Collections in Performing Arts, University of Maryland (finding aid)

The Donna Barr papers, San Diego State University, San Diego, California (finding aid)

Robert E. Foster papers, Special Collections in Performing Arts, University of Maryland (finding aid)

The Leland Bard Collection on Michael Seyfrit, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California

Processing Information

Processed by Pedro Gonzalez-Fernandez, October 2015. As no previous scheme for arrangement was discernible, series and subseries were created after the materials arrived at SCPA. Still, items that were packaged together (including materials related to the Desert Peach and recordings with attached programs) were kept as a unit.
Title
Michael Seyfrit papers
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Pedro Gonzalez-Fernandez, October 2015.
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