Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Robert Erickson Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MSS.96
Mandeville Special Collections Library
Language of Material:
19.3 Linear feet
(28 archives boxes, 11 oversized flat boxes, 3 cassettes boxes, 1.5 LP/reel-to-reel boxes, 1 records carton)
Date (inclusive): 1940 - 1996
Papers of Robert Erickson, American composer and co-founder of the Music Department at the University of California, San Diego.
The collection is comprised of correspondence, holograph music scores, materials relating to Erickson's teachings at UCSD
and his work with the Center for Music Experiment, and recordings of performances and appearances on several media formats
including audio cassette, VHS, Beta, and reel-to-reel.
Erickson, Robert, 1917-1997
Born in Marquette, Michigan on March 7, 1917, Erickson studied composition with Austrian composer Ernst Krenek at Hamline
University in St. Paul and graduated in 1943. After three years in the Army, he returned to Hamline, receiving an M.A. in
music in 1947.
Erickson began his career teaching composition at the College of St. Catherine's in St. Paul. He then taught at the University
of California, Berkeley, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, before becoming one of the founders of the Department
of Music at the University of California, San Diego, in 1967.
Erickson is known for his use of the 12-tone system, sounds recorded on tape, and self-made instruments. His works have been
performed and commissioned by the Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles Symphony Orchestras, the American Composers
Orchestra, and ensembles including the Arch Ensemble, Continuum, the Kronos Quartet, the Sequoia Quartet and SONOR.
In addition to receiving the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Yaddo fellowships, Erickson has been the
recipient of numerous awards including the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and
Letters, the Drew Prize in Music Composition, and, in 1985, the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award for excellence in chamber music
for his string quartet, Solstice.
Throughout his career, Erickson published numerous articles and authored two books:
The Structure of Music: A Listener's Guide in 1957 and
Sound Structures in Music in 1975.
Erickson died on April 24, 1997.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Robert Erickson Papers document Erickson's career as a composer, musician and faculty member at the University of California,
San Diego. The papers are arranged in six series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) MUSIC, 4) UCSD MATERIALS,
5) WRITINGS, and 6) MEDIA.
SERIES 1: BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS
The BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS series includes articles about Erickson, family photos, documents on Erickson's family history,
and datebooks and journals dating 1940 to 1981.
SERIES 2: CORRESPONDENCE
The CORRESPONDENCE series dates from 1940 to 1996. This series contains letters from professional colleagues including mentor
Ernst Krenek, fellow composers Will Ogdon and Charles Shere, musicians Stuart Dempster and Bert Turetzky, American music critic
Alan Rich, and photographer and supporter Betty Freeman, among others.
Erickson's original order has been maintained: correspondence is filed chronologically with the exception of one folder containing
Erickson's correspondence with Ernst Krenek.
SERIES 3: MUSIC
The MUSIC series is comprised of three subseries: A) Compositions, B) Programs and Reviews, and C) Other Projects.
A) The Compositions subseries is arranged chronologically from 1961-1990, and contains mostly handwritten sheet music and
music sketches for single instruments, ensembles, and orchestras. A sub subseries of Compositions includes Oversized music
scores which make up the a sizable portion of the materials.
B) The Programs and Reviews subseries is arranged chronologically from 1941-2001, and includes both original and photocopied
programs and reviews of live and recorded performances of Erickson's work.
C) The Other Projects subseries contains grant applications, research proposals, and Erickson's research notes on instrument
and speaker system ideas.
SERIES 4: UCSD MATERIALS
The UCSD MATERIALS series is comprised of two subseries: A) Teaching Materials and B) Music Department.
A) The Teaching Materials subseries contains syllabi, handouts, and lecture notes grouped by class and arranged chronologically.
Also included are annotated writings by others and subject files of research notes and article clippings used in Erickson's
teachings. These materials are arranged alphabetically by subject or author.
B) The Music Department subseries, dating from 1973 to 1987, contains correspondence, meeting minutes, and reports and proposals
documenting the early years of the UCSD Music Department.
SERIES 5: WRITINGS
The WRITINGS series is arranged into three subseries: A)
Sound Structure in Music, B) Articles and Books, and C) Notebooks.
Sound Structure in Music subseries includes handwritten and typed drafts of chapters of Erickson's book, photocopied reviews, and correspondence regarding
B) The Articles and Books subseries is arranged chronologically and includes typescript and handwritten drafts and research
notes. Included are Erickson's unpublished memoirs, "Remembered Sounds and Hearing Things: Autobiographical Essays."
C) The Notebooks subseries includes a series of nineteen notebooks wherein Erickson recorded his research, thoughts, experiment
ideas, diagrams, and article clippings on the subject of timbre. Other notebooks, arranged by date, contain similar content
on subjects ranging from orchestra to texture to composition ideas.
SERIES 6: MEDIA
The MEDIA series is arranged by format into five subseries: A) Images, B) VHS and Beta Cassette Tapes, C) Audio Cassettes,
D) Reel-to-Reel, and E) LPs.
A) The Images subseries containing mostly black and white prints, is organized by subject, and includes portraits of Erickson
and candids of him in workshop and classroom settings. Four folders contain images relating to articles found in the WRITINGS
B) The VHS and Beta Cassette Tapes subseries include a recording of New World of Sound, dated 1969, some undated videos and
undated tapes of "Erickson Archive" number 1-6.
C) The Audio Cassettes subseries includes "Erickson Archive" numbers 1-12 which date from 1968-1984 and undated as well as
other audio cassettes from various sessions and performances, including Erickson Festival: Kronos Quartet dated March 1, 1987.
D) The Reel-to-Reel subseries includes 30 audio reels (fourteen 10 1/2", thirteen 7", and three 5") which span from 1957-1984
of performances, sound studies and recordings of his music.
E) The LPs subseries consists of 7 LPs created during Erickson's time at Hamline University (1940s).
Audiovisual materials, including VHS, Beta, audiocassettes, LPs, and reel-to-reel recordings, are restricted. Patrons must
request user copies be produced.
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Robert Erickson Papers, MSS 96. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Erickson, Robert, 1917-1997 -- Archives
Krenek, Ernst, 1900-1991, correspondent
University of California, San Diego. Dept. of Music -- Archives.
Composers -- United States -- Archives
Music -- 20th century -- Archives
Music -- Instruction and study -- Archives
Orchestral music -- Scores