The Robert Selig collection is organized into the following nine series:

  1. Correspondence
  2. Works
  3. New England Conservatory Publicity
  4. Grants
  5. Autobiographical materials 
  6. Miscellaneous papers
  7. Annotated scores
  8. Teaching materials
  9. Contract

*For information regarding NEC's collection of Robert Selig's music, see Robert Leigh Selig, 1939-1984: his music in the Harriet M. Spaulding Library at the New England Conservatory of Music : a preliminary index by Patrick H. Maxfield (Vault ML134.S424 M29).

Series 1: Correspondence 

The correspondence in this series is organized into six groups: academic, lyricists, music publishers, New England Conservatory, personal, and miscellaneous. Within each group or sub-group, letters are arranged chronologically. Additional correspondence may be found in Series 2: Works, and Series 4: Grants.

The academic letters are mainly notifications from Boston University informing Selig of graduate assistantships. There are also letters relating to prospective employment at various educational institutions.

Letters granting permission from lyricists include those of poet Richard Moore, who collaborated with Selig on Chocorua and Survival Fragments.

Selig’s relationships with music publishers are evidenced in his correspondence with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), Carl Fischer Music, and Margun Music. These letters are accordingly arranged into sub-groups by publisher:

  • BMI: Mostly royalties statements; a draft and a typed copy of a letter from Selig to James Roy, Vice President, Concert Music Management.
  • Carl Fischer: Exchanges regarding contracts for several scores. 
  • Margun: Letters from Gunther Schuller, President, and Bruce Creditor, General Manager, of Margun. Selig’s diary contains a manuscript draft of his May 14, 1981 letter to Schuller and Creditor, and an entry referring to their correspondence. Some Margun promotional materials are also included in this folder.
  • Other publishers: Early letters to publishers; a handwritten draft by one of Selig’s popular song collaborators, Gerry Robinson, to Murray Deutch of United Artists.

New England Conservatory correspondence consists of Selig’s formal correspondence as a faculty member. There are related letters in Robert Selig’s files in two other archival collections at NEC: Office of the President, Gunther Schuller, Faculty Files, and Office of the Vice President, Donald Harris, Faculty Files.

The few personal letters or notes span the years from 1969 to shortly before Selig’s death in 1984.

Series 2: Works


This series comprises documents relating to specific musical works by Selig, and are divided into 3 subseries: Correspondence, Programs, and Reviews.

Subseries 1: Correspondence

The correspondence consists primarily of letters to and from concert organizers and musicians regarding upcoming performances of Selig’s works, as well as requests for scores from individuals and groups interested in performing a piece.

Selig frequently sent scores and tapes of his works to colleagues for comment, and to various conductors and musical directors in the hope of having a work performed. Copies of Selig’s accompanying letters, and the responses he received, are included here.

Each folder in this subseries contains letters about a particular work: Chicago: Three Portraits of a City; Variations for Brass Quintet; Mirage; Islands; Concerto for Rock Group and Orchestra; Orestes: Flight into Fury; Symphony for Woodwind Quintet; Chocorua; Pometacomet, 1676; Survival Fragments; Piano Sonata; Symphony no. 2: Earth Colors; Quartet for Brass Trio and Piano; Two Songs for “Eternal Love.”

Folders are arranged by the date that each work was completed. In general, this results in an overall chronological arrangement, but in a few cases, the score was completed long before the piece was performed. Therefore, some letters may be dated much later than the work.

Of particular interest are letters from the following individuals:

  • George Rochberg (referring to Variations for Brass Quintet).
  • Trumpet students: requests for Mirage score, after its release in 1970 on the LP Armando Ghitalla, trumpet, vol. 2 (Cambridge, CRS 2823). Note also, copies of two letters written by Selig on May 16, 1967, refer primarily to Mirage and Islands as well as to other works.
  • Sheldon Morgenstern, musical director of Eastern Music Festival: letters leading to Selig’s first commission, Concerto for Rock Group and Orchestra.
  • Frank Battisti, New England Conservatory colleague
  • Gardner Read, Selig’s fomer teacher at Boston University (referring to Chocorua).
  • Irma Wolpe: note on Pometacomet, 1676.
  • Charles, Frances, and Elizabeth Parcells: notes accompanied by press information on Elizabeth Parcells, who premiered Survival Fragments.
  • Milt Stevens, who commissioned Quartet for Brass Trio and Piano for the Washington Chamber Brass.
  • Michael Lombardi, author, lyricist, and producer of Eternal Love: the Abelard-Heloise Musical. Selig provided two songs and additional music for this show. Accompanying the letters are tapes of music that Lombardi wished to share with Selig: examples of early music, and selections from Lombardi’s first musical, Troubador.

Subseries 2: Programs

This subseries includes printed concert programs, draft program notes, and other texts. The printed programs, arranged by date, are listed below. Among the draft program notes are: Selig’s manuscript draft of notes on Quartet: Three Seasons of Autumn; drafts and masters for a program booklet for Symphony no. 2: Earth Colors, using photocopies from “Tecumseh” by Glenn Tucker, American History Illustrated, Feb. 1972 (original issue of the magazine included in folder).

Printed programs:

  • Midwest Student Composers’ Symposium, May 12-13, 1961, Northwestern University School of Music “Athena” Symphony
  • Cambridge Brass Quintet, March 6, 1970, Brandeis University. Variations for Brass Quintet
  • Collegium Musicum Ensemble, Temple University Music Festival and Institute, June 2-August 2, 1970. Variations for Brass Quintet
  • Collage (probably Feb. 2, 1973, Jordan Hall) Program notes. Quartet: Three Seasons of Autumn
  • Collage, February 23, 1973, Walnut Hill School. Quartet: Three Seasons of Autumn
  • Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, February 24, 1973. Concerto for Rock Group and Orchestra
  • Elizabeth Parcells, soprano; Christopher Oldfather, pianist, June 30, 1976, WGBH Radio Wednesdays at 8:00, Studio One. Survival Fragments
  • Newton Chamber Orchestra, May 24, 1976, Sanders Theater, Islands
  • Empire Brass Quintet, March 20, 1977, Jordan Hall. Music for Brass Instruments (i.e. Variations for Brass Quintet)
  • Northwestern University School of Music, Symphonic Wind EnsembleApril 24, 1977. Pometacomet, 1676
  • Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, August 1-6, 1981, and Tanglewood 1981 season program. Variations for Brass Quintet (performed 8/2/81)
  • Scholarship Brass Quintet, April 19, 1982, New England Conservatory. Variations for Brass Quintet
  • Bruce Hall, trumpet; William Essert, trumpet; Thomas Roycraft, trombone; David E. Kirk, tuba; Mark Robbins, horn, New England Conservatory (no date). Program notes. Variations for Brass Quintet
  • James Messbauer, trombone; Vivian Lacy, piano. New England Conservatory (no date). Variations for Brass Quintet (performed by the Rocky Horror Brass Quintet)

Subseries 3: Reviews

Clippings of reviews are grouped by works: Variations for Brass Quintet; Islands; Concerto for Rock Group and Orchestra; Quartet: Three Seasons of Autumn; Chocorua; Pometacomet, 1676; Survival Fragments; Quartet for Brass Trio and Piano.

For complete citations of articles, see the bibliography (p. 48-51) in: Maxfield, Patrick."Robert Leigh Selig (1939-1984) : his music in the Harriet M. Spaulding Library at the New England Conservatory of Music : a preliminary index", 1985.

Series 3: New England Conservatory Publicity


This is a small collection of newsletters, events calendars, and flyers announcing concerts with works by Selig. It includes two issues of New England Conservatory Notes (Oct. 16, 1970, and Summer 1982).

Series 4: Grants

Selig was awarded many grants and fellowhips, including two from the Guggenheim Foundation (1971, 1977). This series comprises grant-related applications and correspondence with: American Music Center, Artists Foundation, Berkshire Music Center (Tanglewood), Fromm Music Foundation,Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, National Endowment for the Arts, Serge Koussevitsky Music Foundation.

Series 5: Autobiographical material


This important series includes several of Selig’s résumés and a diary. The résumés were written every one to four years between 1968 and 1982, for grant and employment applications, and to accompany the submission of musical works in competitions. There are several drafts of his 1982 curriculum vitae. These documents provide a record of Selig’s own perspective on his musical influences, development, and interests, and include detailed lists of his compositions and information on significant performances. Four small “photo booth” photographs of Selig are attached to the 1968 submissions.

The diary is a spiral-bound notebook that covers only a short time-span, from June 1980 to June 1983, with a few other sheets inserted, dated 1976 and 1979. Entries were made upon the completion of various compositions.

Series 6: Miscellaneous papers

Papers related to Selig’s years as a student at Northwestern University include a newspaper clipping about a visit from Roger Sessions to the university (Selig, as a 22-year-old composition student, is quoted in the article). Of interest in the notes and other papers is a 1980 caricature-style drawing of Selig.
 
Series 7: Annotated scores

These scores and photocopies of scores were annotated by Selig for teaching purposes:

Schoenberg: Verklarte Nacht; Drei Klavierstucke, op. 11; Five pieces for orchestra, op. 16; String quartet no. 2, op. 10: III. Litanei

Stravinsky: Concerto en re: II. Arioso -- III. Rondo; Marche du Soldat; Le sacre du printemps; Trois pieces pour quatuor a cordes

Webern: Five movements for string quartet, op. 5, 4th movement; Five pieces for
orchestra, op. 10; Three pieces for cello and piano, op. 11, no. 3


Miscellaneous: Bartok, Diminished 5ths, no. 101, v. IV; Debussy, Prelude a “L’apres-midi d’un faune”; Ives, Three harvest home chorales; Mozart, Don Giovanni; Wagner, Tristan und Isolde, "Prelude and Love Duet"

Series 8: Teaching materials

Several spiral-bound notebooks from 1973 through 1983 contain teaching plans, student assignments, grades, etc. An undated teaching notebook(1982?) also includes Selig’s to-do lists and notes concerning grant applications, circulation of his scores and tapes, etc. Among the other teaching materials are a course outline for 1983-1984 and assignments turned in by students.

Series 9: Contracts

This series consists of Selig’s early songwriters’ contracts as a “house” composer of popular songs, and later copyright agreements related to several of his scores.

The songwriters’ contracts were made between Selig (with various collaborators) and Haymarket Music, South Mountain Music, Unart (United Artists), Gil Music, Tender Tunes Music, 1964-1965.

Selig’s copyright agreements with Carl Fischer Music, and its subsidiary Pembroke, were eventually cancelled. These files also contain photocopies of copyright agreements for two scores by Donald Martino, Notturno and Ritorno.

2010-06-25


IF YOU HAVE TO ASK WHAT JAZZ IS, YOU'LL NEVER KNOW. LOUIS ARMSTRONG