Donald Harris

Portrait of Harris

Donald Harris served as an administrator and faculty member at the New England Conservatory from 1967-1977. Harris left NEC to go to the Hartt School of Music where he served as Chair of the Theory and Composition Department as well as Composer in Residence for three years. Then in 1980, Harris was named Dean of the School, succeeding Donald Mattran. He remained in this position until 1988, when he left to become Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Music at Ohio State University.  In 1997, Harris stepped down as dean and rejoined the OSU faculty in composition.

Donald Harris earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in composition from the University of Michigan, where he studied with Ross Lee Finney. From there Harris went to Paris where he studied with Nadia Boulanger. Also while in Paris, Harris was a music consultant to the United States Information Service, and he produced the city’s first postwar Festival of Contemporary American Music. Harris’s other teachers included Lukas Foss, Boris Blacher, and Max Deutsch, a student of Arnold Schoenberg.

Included among Harris’s numerous commissions are: the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation, the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation in the Library of Congress, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Radio France, and the Cleveland Orchestra.  Harris was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship (1956) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1966), and an ASCAP Deems Taylor award (1989). In 1991, Harris was honored with an award in composition from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, which led to a retrospective recording of his work on the CRI label in 1994.  His music has been published in France by Editions Jobert and in the United States by Theodore Presser and GUNMAR music.  Harris was also co-editor of the W.W. Norton publication of the correspondence between Alban Berg and Arnold Schoenberg.

Physical description

This collection consists of .6 lin. ft or half of a record carton.  This collection is limited to paper files (113 folders).


This collection was generated by Donald Harris during his tenure at NEC as Assistant to the President and Vice President.  These materials had been kept in storage until they were transferred to the Archives in 2004.


Access to the Donald Harris Papers is granted by the Archivist.  Appointments must be scheduled in advance. There may be some restrictions on this collection, particularly the involving the faculty files and subject files. Issues of access will be addressed on a case by case basis.


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: NECA 3.2 Donald Harris Papers, New England Conservatory Archives, Boston, MA.

Scope & Content

The Donald Harris Papers are organized into nine series:

  1. Correspondence
  2. Faculty Files
  3. Academic Department Files
  4. Preparatory/Extension Division Files
  5. Administrative Department Files
  6. Funding/Scholarship Files
  7. Special Event Files
  8. Subject Files
  9. External Files

The Correspondence files in the Donald Harris collection include several categories: general correspondence, which span the years 1968-1977(the bulk being from the years 1975-1977); correspondence with members of the NEC staff and administration; correspondence with or regarding NEC students; correspondence in French; correspondence with the Alumni Club of Puerto Rico; correspondence with the Boston media; and correspondence with Nadia Boulanger..

Faculty files contain correspondence and/or materials relating to individual faculty members. There is also one folder containing memoranda written to the NEC faculty community.

Series 3 consists of Academic department files, the most substantial of which are those pertaining to the departments of African-American music, Conducting, Humanities, and Theory.

The Preparatory Division/Extension Division series includes materials from the Preparatory School and the Community Services Department. The Preparatory/Extension Division file contains a review/evaluation of the division. The Community Services Department files contains information about various outreach programs including the Harbridge House and the Madison Park program, as well as discussions about how the Community Services department relates to the Preparatory Division as a whole.

There are only two Administrative Department Files containing records from Health Services and the Placement Office.

The Funding/Scholarship files contain materials pertaining to the Jerome Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Payson Rowe gift, the Gladys Miller and Paul Lavalle scholarships, and the Women Artists of the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra (WAMSO) Young Artists Competition (connected with the Jerome Foundation). Also included are files pertaining to teaching assistantships and scholarship ensembles.

The Special Event files contain records pertaining to a 1973 Alumni luncheon, the American Society of University Composers (ASUC) conference in 1976, the International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM) World Music Days, and a Madeleine Malraux concert. 

The Harris Subject Files cover a wide range of topics including curriculum related records such as those for the Kodaly course and Tufts/NEC degree program, and topics of historical interest such as information on instruments owned by NEC, the Pelleas and Melisande manuscript, and the Voice of Firestone collection. There is also a large file containing biographical information about Harris including resumes, press releases, pamphlets, and newspaper clippings. The file titled 'Awards' contains a very small amount of information regarding the “Ludi” award and the National Federation of Music Clubs award. Also included are files relating to performances of NEC ensembles such as the tours of the NEC Chorus and the Ragtime Ensemble, concerts at the Prudential Center.

The External Files in this collection document NEC’s involvement with local cultural institutions such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Metropolitan Cultural Alliance and its partnership with the International Institute of Boston, as well as outreach programs with the Park School and the Partnership for the Arts. This series also contains records pertaining to accreditation and curriculum related organizations such as the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), and Seven Springs. These files also document Harris’s association with the Foundacion de France, the French Consulate, and the MIT Humanities Visiting Committee.


Container List

Series 1:  Correspondence

Folder 1 – Correspondence, General, 1968-1972
Folder 2 – Correspondence, General, 1975
Folder 3 – Correspondence, General, January – May 1976
Folder 4 – Correspondence, General, June – September 1976
Folder 5 – Correspondence, General, October – December 1976
Folder 6 – Correspondence, General, January – March 1977
Folder 7 – Correspondence, General, April – June 1977
Folder 8 - Correspondence, General, French
Folder 9 – Correspondence, Staff/Administration
Folder 10 – Correspondence, Students
Folder 11 – Correspondence, Alumni Club of Puerto Rico
Folder 12 – Correspondence, Boston Media
Folder 13 -  Correspondence, Nadia Boulanger

Series 2:  Faculty Files

Folder 14 – Faculty Files, Individuals
Folder 15 – Faculty, Community
Folder 16 – Barbeau, Bernard
Folder 17 – Barzin, Leon
Folder 18 – Battisti, Frank
Folder 19 – Blake, Ran
Folder 20 – Brink, Robert
Folder 21 – Ceely, Robert
Folder 22 – Chodos, Gabriel
Folder 23 – Clickner, Susan
Folder 24 – Cogan, Robert
Folder 25 – Davidson, Lyle
Folder 26 – Decima, Terry
Folder 27 – DeVaron, Lorna Cooke
Folder 28 – Epstein, Frank
Folder 29 – Felice, John
Folder 30 – Fine, Burton
Folder 31 – Firth, Everett
Folder 32 – Gibbons, John
Folder 33 – Hadcock, Peter
Folder 34 – Halprin, Lee
Folder 35 – Hayashi, Yuko
Folder 36 – Heiss, John
Folder 37 – Hoffmann, James
Folder 38 – Jochum, Veronica
Folder 39 – Krasner, Louis
Folder 40 – Lafferty, Donald
Folder 41 – Lesser, Laurence
Folder 42 – Martino, Donald
Folder 43 – Moore, Richard
Folder 44 – Nagin, Carl
Folder 45 – Nickrenz, Scott
Folder 46 – Oster, Ernest
Folder 47 – Pearson, Mark
Folder 48 – Peyton, Malcolm
Folder 49 – Pinkham, Daniel
Folder 50 – Pittman, Richard
Folder 51 – Rademacher, Irma
Folder 52 – Rapier, Wayne
Folder 53 – Reutlinger, Barbara
Folder 54 – Rosenbaum, Victor
Folder 55 – Rosenblith, Eric
Folder 56 – Row, Peter
Folder 57 – Russell, George
Folder 58 – Selig, Robert
Folder 59 – Sherman, Russell
Folder 60 – Sullivan, Robert
Folder 61 – Sutton, Julia
Folder 62 – Wolfe, Lawrence
Folder 63 – Wrzesien, Bill
Folder 64 – Yona, Anna
Folder 65 – Yona, David
Folder 66 – Zander, Benjamin
Folder 67 – Zaritzsky, Gerald

Series 3: Academic Department Files

Folder 68 – Afro-American Music
Folder 69 – Conducting
Folder 70 – Humanities
Folder 71 – Theory
Folder 72 – Wind Ensemble

Series 4: Preparatory Division

Folder 73 – Community Services Department / Harbridge House Inc. study
Folder 74 - Preparatory/Extension Division

Series 5: Administrative Department Files

Folder 75 - Health Services
Folder 76 - Placement office

Series 6:  Funding/Scholarships

Folder 77 – Jerome Foundation
Folder 78 – Kresge Foundation
Folder 79 - Paul Lavalle Scholarship
Folder 80 – Gladys Miller Scholarship
Folder 81 – Rockefeller Foundation
Folder 82 – Payson Rowe Gift
Folder 83 – Scholarship ensembles
Folder 84 – Teaching Assistantships
Folder 85 -  Funding - Gifts/Other

Series 7: Special Events

Folder 86 – Alumni Luncheon, 1973
Folder 87 – ASUC Conference
Folder 88 – ISCM World Days of Music
Folder 89 - Malraux Concert

Series 8: Subject Files
Folder 90 - Awards
Folder 91 – Biographical materials
Folder 92 – Boston String Quartet
Folder 93 – Chorus, European Tour, 1972
Folder 94 – Chorus, European Tour, 1974
Folder 95 – Restricted file
Folder 96 – Kodaly Course
Folder 97 – Instruments
Folder 98 – Pelleas et Melisande
Folder 99 – Prudential Center Concerts
Folder 100 – Ragtime Ensemble trip/Japan/Hong Kong Trip
Folder 101 -  Recordings
Folder 102 – Tufts/NEC Joint program
Folder 103 – Voice of Firestone
Folder 104 – WAMSO Young Artists Competition
Folder 105 – Restricted file

Series 9: External Files

Folder 106 – Boston Symphony Orchestra
Folder 107 – Foundation de France
Folder 108 - French Consulate
Folder 109 – International Institute of Boston
Folder 110 – The Mall at Chestnut Hill
Folder 111 – Metropolitan Cultural Alliance
Folder 112 – MIT – Humanities Visiting Committee
Folder 113 – NASM
Folder 114 – NEASC
Folder 115 – The Park School
Folder 116 – Partnership for the Arts
Folder 117 – Seven Springs