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Register of the Paul Desmond Papers
MSS 309  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Paul Desmond Papers
    Dates: 1890-1991
    Bulk Dates: (bulk, 1940-1970)
    Collection number: MSS 309
    Creator: Desmond, Paul, 1924-
    Collection Size: 1 linear foot
    Repository: University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Dept. of Special Collections
    Stockton, California 95211
    Abstract: The collection consists of the papers of jazz saxophonist Paul Desmond. Includes 36 pages of diaries (memos to myself) from 1947-1955, over 300 letters to and from Desmond throughout his childhood and adult life, nearly 400 photographs, and a variety of other documents.
    Physical location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Access

    Collection open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Paul Desmond Papers. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Paul Desmond is widely considered one of the great alto saxophonists in jazz history. He was an essential member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet in the 1950s and 1960s. As a member of the Quartet, Desmond wrote "Take Five," the best selling jazz single in history. Desmond was born Paul Emil Breitenfeld in San Francisco on November 25, 1924. He played piano, clarinet, and saxophone while growing up, but focused on alto saxophone during his professional career.
    Desmond and Brubeck formed the core of the Brubeck Quartet in 1951. Over the next sixteen years the group was one of the most popular acts in jazz, touring the world and releasing several best-selling albums. Desmond also recorded and performed with his own groups, usually as a quartet. He died in New York City on May 30, 1977.
    A comprehensive treatment of Desmond's life can be found in Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond by Doug Ramsey (Parkside Publications, 2005). Many of the diaries, letters, and other documents in the Paul Desmond Collection are reproduced in this biography.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection consists of the papers of jazz saxophonist Paul Desmond. Includes 36 pages of diaries (memos to myself) from 1947-1955, over 300 letters to and from Desmond throughout his childhood and adult life, nearly 400 photographs, and a variety of other documents. The diaries and letters offer vivid insights into Desmond's psyche and outlook on life, as well as his musical career. These include extensive personal correspondence between Desmond and his father Emil Breitenfeld, as well as letters from Dave and Iola Brubeck in 1951 that signify the beginning of the Brubeck Quartet.

    Arrangement

    Collection is arranged by material type. Most of the letters written by Desmond are undated, but have been arranged in an approximate chronological order. It is imperative that researchers only use one file at a time and maintain the order of the letters.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Breitenfeld, Paul, 1924-
    Brubeck, Dave
    Breitenfeld, Emil
    Dave Brubeck Quartet
    Jazz musicians - United States
    Saxophonists - United States

    Related Material

    The Brubeck Collection (MSS 4) contains a significant amount of information on Desmond and his partnership with Brubeck.