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Guide to the Emma Lou Diemer Papers, 1943- 2008
PA Mss 41  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Emma Lou Diemer papers, 1943- 2008
    Dates: 1943- 2008
    Collection number: PA Mss 41
    Creator: Diemer, Emma Lou
    Collection Size: 53 boxes 30 linear feet
    Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections
    Santa Barbara, CA 93106
    Abstract: Papers of an American composer and former UCSB professor that range from the 1940s through to 2008 and include many of her compositions in manuscript, audio recordings, extensive business and personal correspondence, programs, clippings, and contracts.
    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 German Spanish Chinese Czech


    Box 53 contains documents with restricted information'the original materials have been separated from the collection and copies of these documents with the sensitive information removed are available (in box 53).

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    Emma Lou Diemer papers, 1943- 2008. PA Mss 41, Department of Special Collections, University Libraries, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Collection donated by Emma Lou Diemer in 2001 and 2008.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Emma Lou Diemer is an acclaimed and prolific composer, an accomplished musician and a respected educator. She composes extensively for a variety of skill levels and in many genres, including the oft neglected organ, and frequently experiments with new techniques. Born in 1927, Emma Lou was the youngest of four siblings in her profoundly musical family. She studied piano and organ throughout her school years and performed frequently in recitals and for religious services, a practice she kept up regularly at various churches until 2001.
    She received her Bachelors of Music and Masters of Music in Composition from the Yale School of Music in 1950 and in 1952-1953 was a Fulbright Scholar in composition and piano at the Brussels Conservatoire in Belgium. Back in the United States, she attended the Berkshire Music Center, sometimes called Tanglewood, to study composition further during the summers of 1954 and 1955.
    The Ford Foundation selected Diemer in 1959 as one of several young composers to receive positions as composers-in-residence at secondary schools. She continued in this position until 1961, in the meantime earning her Ph. D. of Composition from the Eastman School of Music. Her 'Three Madrigals' for mixed voices and piano is a popular piece from this period and an example of her ability to compose engaging works that are also instructive and appropriate for developing musicians.
    She continued her involvement with young musicians in a position as composer-consultant under Contemporary Music Project of Music Educators National Conference in Arlington, VA and Baltimore, MD schools from 1964-65 and held a professorship at the University of Maryland 1965-70 before moving to Santa Barbara to work as a professor of theory and composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1971.
    At UCSB, Diemer worked with other professors including Karl Geiringer and Peter Racine Fricker to develop the composition program for undergraduates and pioneered the electronic music program that continues today. She occasionally composed works for students and fellow professors, one of which, 'Toccata' for piano, is among her most popular published works. Diemer retired from the university and became a Professor Emeritus in 1991.
    Since retiring, Diemer regularly takes commissions and produces large numbers of works for chorus, organ and religious settings, frequently incorporating poetic text from various sources. Among her numerous awards are her recognition by the American Guild of Organists as Composer of the Year in 1995 and her receipt of an honorary Doctor of Letters at Central Missouri State University in 1999.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Collection of papers from the life and career of Emma Lou Diemer, with materials ranging from 1943-2008. The collection is organized into the following 8 series: I. Personal and Biographic, II. Works, III. Correspondence, IV. Finance, V. Programs, VI. Clippings and Reviews, VII. Family Papers and VIII. Audio Recordings. While predominantly in English, portions of the collection are in German, Chinese, Czech, and Danish.
    Series I, Personal and Biographic includes five subseries: UCSB, ASCAP, Other Biographical, Childhood Papers, and Photos. The UCSB subseries contains bio-bibliographies and papers relating to sabbaticals and promotions at the University. The ASCAP subseries contains information sheets compiled to apply for American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers award money. The Other Biographical Subseries contains her general autobiographical information sheet from 2008 and biographical notes compiled for various other groups. All of these are organized chronologically and represent together a period from 1970 to 2008. The Childhood Papers subseries contains early academic papers and keepsakes. The Photos subseries contains various personal photos.
    Series II, Works is divided into two subseries, Musical Compositions and Written Works. Musical Compositions includes many of Diemer's musical compositions in Mss, Printed, published or sketch form, organized chronologically by date of composition. Listed with the compositions are the numbers assigned to each work by Ellen Grolman Schlegel's in her Emma Lou Diemer: A Bio- Bibliography, called 'W numbers.' To produce these numbers, Grolman divides Diemer's works by genre, orders them chronologically within each genre, and assigns a sequential number to each composition. Works composed after October 2001 do not have assigned 'W numbers.' The Written Works Subseries is composed of articles and notes by ELD, with the former organized by year and the latter by type.
    Series III, Correspondence includes correspondence in four subseries: Named, Student, Personal and Professional. There are numerous enclosures in the earlier folders, especially clippings and programs, and from the mid-1990s much of the collection consists of printed emails. The Named subseries contains correspondence to and from Joan DeVee Dixon, Alvin Broyles, Ellen Grolman Schlegel (Ellen Grolman), and other correspondents separated out by Diemer. The Student subseries contains correspondence consisting of questions from students at a variety of institutions which are answered by Diemer in a substantial and uniquely informative fashion. It is separated into major correspondents and minor ones and organized generally by date. The Personal subseries contains correspondence between Diemer and her family and friends, mostly divided between those addressed to her and from her and ordered by year. Significant correspondents include Marilyn Skiold, Dorothy Diemer Hendry (sister), Myrtle Diemer (mother), and George W. Diemer, I (father). The Professional subseries includes letters relating to composing, publishing, organist work, teaching, etc., and is chronologically organized by year. Correspondence from Diemer is interfiled with the correspondence it responds to, and filed with the latest date of the exchange.
    Series IV, Finance contains financial documents, divided into the subseries Contracts, which also includes royalty receipts, and Other Financial, which contains some tax documentation.
    Series V, Programs contains musical programs, church programs, event announcements and conference programs. The first three of these are grouped together and organized by year, while the conference programs are grouped together at the end of the section.
    In Series VI, Clippings and Reviews consists of two sections, one of general clippings and one of musical reviews, each organized by year.
    Series VII, Family Papers contains four subseries: Correspondence, Family Documents, Clippings and Photos. The Correspondence subseries includes interfamily correspondence, notably that from Diemer's parents to her family during their trip to Belgium, letters from her father's business trip to Japan and correspondence between her brother, George W. Diemer, II, and her family while he fought in World War II. The Family Documents section contains family keepsakes, various writings by family members and many items relating to George W. Diemer, I's work, especially with the Commission on Education to Japan and Germany in the years following WWII. The Clippings subseries contains articles on various members of the family, obituaries and articles on George W. Diemer, I's work. The Photos subseries illustrates a similar balance with several folders of pictures relating to the elder Diemer's work, especially the Commission's trip to Germany in 1951.
    Series VIII, Audio Recordings contains audio recordings ranging in date from 1958 through 2001 and consisting of open reel tapes and cds of groups performing Diemer's works. Also includes are some performances by Diemer.


    The collection is organized into the following 8 series: I. Personal and Biographic, II. Works, III. Correspondence, IV. Finance, V. Programs, VI. Clippings and Reviews, VII. Family Papers and VIII. Audio Recordings.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Composers -- Archives
    Women composers
    Diemer, Emma Lou