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Finding Aid for the Henry F. Gilbert Collection
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Sheet music and orchestral scores by Henry F. Gilbert.
The composer Henry Franklin Belknap Gilbert was born in Somerville, Massachusetts on September 26, 1868. The product of a musical family, Gilbert studied violin, piano, composition, and theory at the New England Conservatory under Edward MacDowell, a leading composer at the turn of the twentieth century. Gilbert's travels within and outside the United States exposed him to the music of non-European cultures, which inspired him to compose from some of those sources. He wrote works influenced by African-American spiritual or gospel music, as well as the music of Native Americans. His compositions are noted for their American themes and inspiration. Gilbert wrote songs, choral works, and works for band and opera, with his most successful works being orchestral. Works given major performances during his lifetime include "Dance in Place Congo," a one-act opera performed in 1918 by the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and Orchestra. Other prominent works include "Negro Rhapsody" and "Comedy Overture on Negro Themes," the latter conducted by Gliere in Russia in 1914. Henry Gilbert's "Symphonic Piece" was performed by the Bostom Symphony Orchestra under Koussevitsky in 1926, and "Nocturne" was performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra shortly before his death on May 19, 1928, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Collection is open for research.