James Aliferis Photo PortraitJames Aliferis was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. As a child, he studied piano and violin at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Aliferis received both his Bachelor’s degree (B.S., 1936) and Master’s degree (M.A., 1939) from Western Reserve University. At Western Reserve, Aliferis studied theory, counterpoint and fugue with Melville Smith, and composition and music history with Arthur Shepherd. In 1939, he received a Ranney Fellowship for further study in Europe. Along with classmates Leonard Bernstein and Lukas Foss, Aliferis was a student in Serge Koussevitzky’s first conducting class at the Berkshire Music Center in 1941. In 1943, Aliferis earned his doctoral degree from the University of Iowa. In addition to studying composition there with Philip Greely Clapp, he also focused on music psychology with Carl E. Seashore and Arnold Small. During WWII Aliferis served as conductor of the Special Services Symphony Orchestra.

Prior to coming to NEC, Dr. Aliferis spent twelve years (1946-1958) on the faculty of the University of Minnesota where he taught graduate composition, conducted the University Chorus and Chamber Singers, and served as permanent guest conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. This orchestra, under the direction of Dimitri Mitropoulos, premiered Aliferis’s Symphony No. 1. During this same period, Aliferis served as Paul Hindemith’s assistant at Tanglewood and conductor of the International Society of Contemporary Music. As an educator, Aliferis was known for the development of the first nationally standardized achievement tests in music. He also contributed articles dealing with music achievement to several national journals. Aliferis served as NEC’s president from 1958-1962. His two primary goals as President were to improve the caliber of the Conservatory’s performing ensembles and to increase service to the community.Later in the 1960s, Aliferis held the position of Director of Choral Music for the city of Philadelphia. He also led his own performing ensemble, the James Aliferis Singers. Dr Aliferis died of cancer at his home in West Chester, PA on May 22, 1992 at the age of 78.
- biographical information taken from New England Conservatory Bulletin and Alumni Newsletter, v. 33 no. 1 (Autumn 1958), pp 1-2; Obituary, The American Organist, v. 26 no. 9, September 1992, p. 53

Physical description

.20 lin. ft. – 1 document case. These records are all paper files.


This collection includes the materials created by, and belonging to James
Aliferis, who served as President of New England Conservatory from 1958-1962. The materials in this collection have been stored at NEC since Aliferis’s tenure. 


Access to the Aliferis Collection is granted by the Archivist or Director of
Libraries. Appointments must be scheduled in advance. There are limited restrictions pertaining to this collection.


All copyrights to this collection belong to the New England Conservatory. Permission to publish materials from this collection is granted by the Director of Libraries. This collection should be cited as: James Aliferis Collection in the Archives at New England Conservatory, Boston.