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Inventory of the Catherine Murphy Urner collection, [ca. 1910-ca. 1942]
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Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Introduction
  • Biographical Sketch
  • Related Collection

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Catherine Murphy Urner Collection,
    Date (inclusive): [ca. 1910-ca. 1942]
    Collection number: ARCHIVES URNER 1
    Creator: Urner, Catherine Murphy, 1891-1942
    Extent: Number of containers: 15 boxes
    Repository: The Music Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


      From the estate of Charles Shatto, husband of Catherine Urner
      Date of gift:
      Spring, 1983


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of the Music Library.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Catherine Murphy Urner collection, ARCHIVES URNER 1, The Music Library, University of California, Berkeley.



    All entries are in alphabetical order; dates are given when available (also, occasionally, the location of composition). With the exceptions of "Song from April'" (Flute or Violin and Piano) (A-2b) and "The Lake Isle of Innesfree" (Flute, Harp and Violoncello) (A-2f), the melodies in the published works (all vocal solo) are accompanied by a piano; and, unless otherwise indicated, the piano is also the sole accompanying instrument for the unpublished, accompanied vocal solo music (B-2 through B-72). Where parts for certain ensemble works are available, a notation to this effect is included along with the instrumentation.
    To avoid any confusion, works appearing in more than one form (where not listed sequentially) have been cross-referenced. (Although not individually cataloged, many sketches and work sheets of finished compositions are extant, frequently diverging from these oeuvres in their final form.)
    Several works, mentioned in reviews or on programs, the compilers have been unable to locate. These are: two songs -"If I Were a Fairy" (Charles Burton Going) (B-25), "Where the Poppies Blow" (Helen Moriarty) (B-71) and "Quartet for Strings" (I-12) premièred by the Krettly Quartet (Robert Krettly, Reni Costard, Georges Taine, Pierre Fournier) at the Salle Pleyel in Paris on March 31, 1925.
    Another of the songs, "Starlight in the Music" (May Stanley) (B-60), has also been known as "Irish Ballad" or "Irish Legend."
    The "Petite Suite" (Flute, Violin, Viola, Violoncello) (I-9) was called simply "Suite" when premièred at Paris at the 152nd concert of the Société Musicale Indé pendante on March 25, 1931 by Mmes. Fernande Capelle (Flute), Cluzet-Horiot (Violin), Anita Cartier (Viola) and M. Trembelland (Violoncello). The initial tempi for the four movements were also listed somewhat differently: 1. Andante quasi adagio 2. Allegretto 3. Allegretto animato, scherzando 4. Final (allegro moderato).
    Within the parameters of time and funding allocated for this project, works possessing a literary basis have been checked for accuracy of textual authorship and title; regrettably, sources for some of the works in this category being unavailable after much searching, inaccuracies and/or omissions may indeed be present.
    Ancillary materials of corroborative interest are stored in nine large manila envelopes (1) four photographs of Catherine Urner (one including her husband, Charles Shatto) 10.2 cm. x 15.5cm. to 20.2 cm. x 25.2 cm. in size (2) press clippings, programs, other photographs, miscellany (3) miscellaneous literary works (4, 5) English translation of Traité de l'harmonie, VI.I by Charles Koechlin (handwritten manuscript [title page and preface missing, 3 pages of notes and examples appended]) (6, 7, 8, 9) English translation of Traité de l'harmonie, VI.I by Charles Koechlin (typewritten manuscript [page 324 duplicated, 2 ink-spoiled pages (39 and 40) appended]) and two somewhat faded green fold-over cartons (1) English translation of Théorie de la musique by Charles Koechlin (hand-written manuscript [pages 1 through 16 missing]) (2) English translation of Théorie de la musique by Charles Koechlin (typewritten manuscripts [1 original, 2 carbon--all incomplete]) (the entire translation is available by combining the materials from both the handwritten and typewritten manuscripts).
    This entire archive, with the exception of The Partheneia 1916-- Aranyani of the Jasmine Vine (J-13), which is housed within the archives of the Berkeley campus of the University of California (The Music Library). Effort is at present being made through the generosity of Christine Urner Vaughan (Catherine Urner's sister) and the F. Eugene Miller Foundation to publish, record and perform this music. (Copyright to B-2, B-43, E-20, H-4, K-5, K-11b, K-46 and K-50 is presently held by the F. Eugene Miller Foundation.)
    Grateful acknowledgment of the assistance of Christine Urner Vaughan in supplying biographical data (which has been developed into a brief biographical sketch) is tendered here.
    Finally, the compilers intensely hope this catalog will become to professionals on the platform, teachers and their students an eminently practicalportal to the discovery and performance of this soaringly beautiful, subtle, mystical music.
    by David Zea
    April 11, 1977

    Addendum to Preface

    It is with great sadness announcement must be made of Charles Shatto's passing on New Year's Day, 1983. Inquiries regarding the Catherine Urner Archive should now be addressed to the Head of the Music Library.
    by David Zea
    January 7, 1983

    Biographical Sketch

    Catherine Murphy Urner was born in Mitchell, Indiana on the 23rd day of March, 1891. Her undergraduate musical training, with concentrations in piano, voice and composition, was accomplished at Goucher College (Baltimore, Maryland), the famed Peabody Conservatory and Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) from which she was graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1912.
    In 1914, she traveled West and enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley campus, to do post-graduate work in music at the College of Letters and Science, where, by June 1916, she had completed four semesters of study. Before her withdrawal from the University on September 26, 1916, she became involved in composing the music for the Spring 1916 production of the University women--The Partheneia--a masque presented in the Faculty Glade on campus. This work, based on a series of scenes by classmate Maude Meagher, was entitled Aranyani of the Jasmine Vine. Miss Urner's contribution was hailed by the following interesting excerpt from a review of the entire production found in the 1917 Blue and Gold (the UCB year book): "The music, composed by Catherine Urner '15 and directed by Dorothy Pillsbury '16, was of unusual beauty." As an outcome of her part in this production, she won the esteemed George Ladd Prix de Paris for the years 1920-1921, Miss Urner being the first person to be honored with this award.
    It was during the first of her three sojourns in France that she coached voice with Andrée Otemar and commenced her decade-long studies in advanced composition and orchestration with the renowned Charles Koechlin.
    On her return to the United States in 1921, she became Director of Vocal Music at Mills College, a position she held until 1924.
    From this time on, Catharine Urner was very active as a composer and concert singer, chiefly in the United States, France and Italy. In the next few years, important premières of her music took place under the auspices of such eminent organizations as the Société Musicale Indépendante and the Salle Pleyel in Paris. In her concertizing, she became recognized as an accomplished singer of ancient and classic songs, French Impressionist chansons and American Indian tribal melodies, many of these last-named having been harmonized and arranged for voice and piano by her close associate, Mme. Herscher-Clément.
    American Indian lore, one of Catharine Urner's main interests, is commented upon in this excerpt from a program announcement in a San Diego newspaper of the Thirties: "A group of the ceremonial songs of five American tribes will be explained and sung by Miss Urner, in appropriate costume. Miss Urner has done extensive research on the folklore of the American Indian, and in collaboration with the French composer, Mme. Herscher-Clément, gave joint recitals with Chief Os-Ko-Mon, of the Yakima tribe, while in Paris." Section IV of the program printed in the same announcement elucidates further: "Ceremonial songs of the Navajo, Sioux, South Dakota, Iroqois (sic) and Cheyenne Indians, with comments by Miss Urner." An announcement of a Thanksgiving Day concert at Santa Barbara's famed El Encanto Hotel gives additional detail regarding the scope of Miss Urner's deep involvement with this traditional music: "In the Thanksgiving program Miss Urner will sing in native costume accompanied by the Indian drum and will present authentic Indian songs from American tribes." Needless to say, one senses a strong influence of this stark, poetical music in Miss Urner's compositions.
    Shortly before her final return to the United States, where she taught and arranged lecture tours for Charles Koechlin at leading universities, more and more plaudits for her recitals were in evidence, Sempol previewing, for example, in L'Éclaireur de Nice et du Sud-Est of Tuesday, January 19, 1932 as follows: "En ce qui concerne plus spécialement son interprétation vocale, on aura la joie de constater que ses dons musicaux et sa compréhension des oeuvres sont doublés d'une technique de chant tout à fait supérieure, d'une voix ample, colorée, au timbre pur et velouté."
    In 1938, Catherine Urner married the well-known composer, pianist and organist, Charles Rollin Shatto, in a ceremony at picturesque Bird Rock, La Jolla, California. The two musicians collaborated on many projects, and until Miss Urner's untimely passing on the 30th day of April, 1942 in San Diego, California, she devoted herself to prolific composition, singing, teaching and choir.

    Related Collection

    • Title: Charles Shatto collection
      Identifier/Call Number: (ARCHIVES SHATTO 1)
    • Title: Charles Koechlin manuscripts
      Identifier/Call Number: (ARCHIVES Koechlin 1)