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Dahl (Ingolf) papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biographical note
  • Preferred Citation
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Separated Materials
  • Organization
  • Processing note
  • Scope and Content

  • Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
    Title: Ingolf Dahl papers
    Creator: Dahl, Ingolf
    Identifier/Call Number: 1001
    Physical Description: 125.35 Linear Feet 131 boxes
    Date (inclusive): 1928-1988
    Date (bulk): 1940-1970
    Abstract: The Ingolf Dahl papers contain the manuscripts, scores, and professional and personal papers of American composer and USC School of Music faculty member Ingolf Dahl (1912-1970). Dahl, one of USC's most distinguished faculty members, had a long and successful career in music both here in his adopted country and abroad. In 1938, Dahl immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Los Angeles where he found work as a composer and conductor for radio and film. In 1943, Dahl joined the faculty of USC. He remained a member of the faculty until his death.
    Language of Material: English .

    Biographical note

    Originally born Walter Ingolf Marcus in Hamburg, Germany to a German father and a Swedish mother, Ingolf Dahl (1912-1970), one of USC's most distinguished faculty members, enjoyed a long and successful career in music. Dahl began his formal music education at the Hochschule fur Musik Koln (Cologne Conservatory), where he studied with Philipp Jarnach from 1930 to 1932. Then, fearing the oppression of the rising Nazi party, he left Germany for Switzerland where he studied with Volkmar Andreae and Walter Frey at the University of Zurich, where he chose Art History as his major and continued his studies in musicology. His first professional assignment out of school was as opera coach with the Zurich Stadttheater, eventually rising to the position of conductor. During this period, Dahl was also composing and performing as a concert pianist in Zurich, Berne and Cologne. It was also during this period that Dahl met his future wife, Etta Gordon Linnick.
    In 1939, after Switzerland became hostile to Jewish refugees, Dahl immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Los Angeles. He changed his name to Ingolf Dahl, using his middle name and his mother's maiden name (he would legally change it in 1943, the same year in which he became a naturalized American citizen). Joining the expatriate community of musicians in Los Angeles (including Igor Stravinsky), he found work as a composer and conductor for radio and film, and he also lectured and performed. In 1945, he joined the faculty of USC where he taught until his death. He conducted the USC symphony orchestra for thirteen years, founded the Collegium Musicum, and taught music history classes on, among other topics, the music of Igor Stravinsky. Dahl's own compositions were heavily influenced by the work of Stravinsky. In addition to their personal collaborations, Dahl arranged and wrote articles on Stravinsky's music.
    In his early years in the United States, Dahl also worked in the entertainment industry. He toured as a pianist for Edgar Bergen in 1941 and for Gracie Fields in 1942 and 1956, produced musical arrangements for Tommy Dorsey, and served as arranger/conductor for Victor Borge. He gave lessons in classical music to Benny Goodman, and played keyboards in soundtrack orchestras at most of the major Hollywood studios and for the television show The Twilight Zone.
    Along with his work at USC, Dahl served on the faculty of the Middlebury Composer's Conference in Middlebury, Vermont (1949) and taught at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (1952-1955), where he was appointed the first head of the Tanglewood Study Group. Among his students at Tanglewood were the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and composer David Cope. The American State Department sent him to Germany to give goodwill concerts in 1961 and 1962 and he acted as musical director and conductor of the Ojai Music Festival from 1964 to 1966. In his last years, Dahl conducted the Los Angeles Guild Opera (1965-1968) and once again the USC symphony orchestra in its 1968-1969 season.
    Among Dahl's many awards were two Guggenheim Fellowships (1952, 1960), two Huntington Hartford Fellowships (1954 and 1958), a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1954), the Excellence in Teaching Award from USC (1967) and the ASCAP Stravinsky Award.
    Ingolf Dahl died in Switzerland in 1970, just a few weeks after his wife, Etta.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder# or item name], Ingolf Dahl papers, Collection no. 1001, University Archives, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. 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.

    Conditions Governing Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.

    Separated Materials

    Dahl's extensive library of books have been separated from the papers and cataloged separately. Dahl's extensive collection of published scores were also evaluated for inclusion in the collections. Those that were annotated by Dahl are included with these papers; those that were unmarked were either cataloged into Homer (if they were not already present in the USC Music Library's collection) or deaccessioned.


    The Ingolf Dahl papers are organized into the following series:
    1. Compositions, arrangements and performances
    2. Correspondence
    3. Teaching and educational work
    4. Writings
    5. Radio shows and film music
    6. Music festivals
    7. Biographical and personal material
    8. Notes
    9. Programs
    10. Clippings and catalogs
    11. Works by other composers
    12. Microfilms

    Processing note

    Approximately half of the Ingolf Dahl papers were originally rehoused by staff members in the USC Libraries Music Library, as well as by Dahl's former student and USC faculty member Frederick Lesemann. The original labeling (but not necessarily original order) of Dahl's papers was maintained in that rehousing, in which the papers were placed into envelopes which were numbered sequentially. The materials in the envelopes were originally housed in boxes that were labeled with broad topical titles (e.g., Classical Music Course, Scores and parts, General--press, etc.), and this labeling was maintained in the inventory of the first rehousing, although the ordering of envelopes was seemingly random. This material consisted almost exclusively of scores and parts, sketches, and sketchbooks, but also contained clippings, programs, scrapbooks and teaching materials. Dahl segregated his sketches and compositions into groups--for example, "Finished Sketches", "All Sketches"--but the differences between groupings was not readily apparent (for example, finished sketches could be found in the "All Sketches" category) and thus for ease of access, sketches, scores, and parts for a particular piece of music have been grouped together. In many cases, also for ease of access, the contents of individual envelopes have been divided into a number of files, based on content; many of the envelopes contained unrelated or loosely related materials. The envelopes and the remainder of the papers, consisting of the same types of material (scores, sketches, notebooks, teaching materials) plus recordings, photographs, ephemera, and realia, were rehoused, arranged, and described by Sue Luftschein in 2012-2013. A small accrual of programs, clippings, and letters from Charles Fierro by way of his sister, Nancy Fierro, were added to the collection by Bo Doub in 2021.

    Scope and Content

    The Ingolf Dahl papers are comprised of manuscripts, notes and sketches, published scores and books, letters, recordings, programs, and general ephemera, 1928-1972, created and collected by Ingolf Dahl. The papers document Dahl's extensive work as a composer, conductor, and teacher. Included are annotated scores, compositions, sketches, information on Dahl's conducting; lecture notes on a wide variety of topics, including contemporary music and contemporary composers (with a special emphasis on Stravinsky), early music (including numerous transcriptions), dance music, theater and film music, and specific issues in the sociology of music. Of particular note are Dahl's notebooks that document his creative process, the large number of sketches for almost all of Dahl's compositions, and Dahl's daybooks that document his daily activities for his entire adult life.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Composition (Music) -- Archival resources
    Exiles -- Germany -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Musicians -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Programs (documents)
    Music -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Music -- Instruction and study -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Music -- Performance -- Archival resources
    University of Southern California. School of Music -- Faculty
    Ojai Music Festival -- Archives
    Tanglewood (Music festival) -- Archives
    Stravinsky, Igor -- Archives
    Dahl, Ingolf -- Archives
    University of Southern California. School of Music -- Students