Dorothy Bales

Image of NEC Alumna Dorothy Bales playing violin

Dorothy Johnson Bales (1917-2002) graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Arts in music in 1938. In 1939 she won the Oregon and Northwest District Young Artists' Award and then traveled to Baltimore to compete in the national contest, after which she remained on the east coast.  While living in New York, she studied violin under Joseph Knitzer and played in the Mozart Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Robert Sholz. Then she studied at the New England Conservatory under scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Music in 1941. Also in 1941, Dorothy Bales married Robert Freed Bales, who went on to become Professor Emeritus of Social Relations at Harvard University. Dorothy Bales then continued to study under Harrison Keller.  She taught at New England Conservatory as a junior teacher during the 1943-1944 academic year..

In New York, between the years 1943 and 1946, Bales studied under Juilliard faculty member Ivan Galamian. In 1948 Bales made her debut at Jordan Hall jointly with pianist Olga Stone. In 1946 through 1959 Bales taught violin and Junior Chamber Music at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge. During the summer of 1949, she studied composition under Ross Lee Finney at the University of Michigan and then in 1951 received her Master of Music from Boston University, where she studied violin, ensemble and musicology. In 1952, Bales gave recitals in Paris at the Salle Chopin-Pleyel and in Salzburg at Schloss Leopoldskron. Bales also gave recitals at Carnegie Hall (1962) and a number of venues in Boston.

From 1950 to 1955 Bales was head of the string department at the Brookline School of Music and taught violin and chamber music, after which she taught violin at the Winsor School in Boston. She also taught as an Assistant Professor of Music at Emmanuel College in Boston and as the head of the violin department at the Berklee College of Music. Bales was also a visiting Associate Professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst and lectured at Northeastern University.  From the years 1985-1998, Bales taught in the Preparatory/Extension Division at New England Conservatory.

Physical description

1.5 lin. ft; two record cartons. This collection primarily includes papers along with photographs and audio materials.


This collection includes materials belonging to and created by Dorothy Bales, who graduated from New England Conservatory in 1941. The collection was donated to the New England Conservatory by Dorothy Bales' husband, Robert Freed Bales in 2004. Three envelopes of photographs were found in 2017 and were added to this collection in 2018.  It's unclear whether those photographs were also received in 2004.


Access to these papers can be arranged by appointment with the NEC Archivist. There are no 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 Archivist. This collection should be cited as: NECA 18.3. Dorothy Bales Papers, New England Conservatory Archives, Boston, MA.

Scope & Content

The Dorothy Bales Papers are organized into ten series:

  1. Personal Documents
  2. Correspondence
  3. Publicity
  4. Concert Programs
  5. Teaching Materials
  6. Publications
  7. Organizations
  8. Recordings
  9. Photographs
  10. Miscellaneous

Ms. Bales' Personal Documents include a passport, vaccination records, an international driving permit and travel permits.

The Correspondence is divided into seven different categories: correspondence from family; correspondence to Robert Freed Bales; correspondence between Dorothy Bales and Robert Freed Bales; correspondence from Dorothy Bales; personal correspondence to Bales A-C, D-L, M-P, R-Z; personal journals; miscellaneous. There are letters from NEC president Laurence Lesser and Stanley Sadie, who was editor of Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Also included are correspondence from composers Ernst Bacon, Walter Piston, Jennifer Fowler, Lyn Gillick, Ann Silsbee, and also a telegram from Henryk Szeryng, who was one of Dorothy Bales’ teachers.

Publicity includes a collection of short biographies about Dorothy Bales, press releases and newsletters from various organizations and publications, newspaper clippings ranging in date from 1948-1993, as well as some newspaper clippings that are undated. There is also a subfolder of miscellaneous material that includes general advertisements and a concert poster. In the collection of short biographies, there is a copy of Bales’ entry in “Who’s Who in Entertainment” which contains a number of date inaccuracies.

There are a number of Concert Programs from Bales’ many performances which are organized by date. Also included are a small number of concert programs that have no specified year printed on them.

The Teaching Materials contain records from Dorothy Bales’ visiting associate professorship at University of Massachusetts Amherst, which includes memoranda to the music faculty, student evaluations of Bales’ classes, correspondence with the records offices, and grading notes. There is also included a string method book written by William Pordon, a music examination from one of Bales’ classes at Emmanuel College and a listing of Women Composers compiled by Bales.

The Publications series consists of various articles and other texts written by Dorothy Bales. This includes copies, research and draft notes referring to Bales’ violin method book “Tunes on Tape”. Also included are research, drafts and correspondence referring to a biographical sketch on violinist Charles Castleman, as well as drafts for articles and biographical sketches about Joseph Silverstein and Ricardo Odnoposoff. There are photocopies of articles on Henryk Szeryng and the college concert circuit. There are also photocopies of articles and original issues containing articles that Bales published in the Journal of the American String Teacher. Also included are drafts, correspondence and research pertaining to one such article, “String Playing by Way of the Brain: Left, Right and Center”.

Papers referring to Dorothy Bales’ involvement with various Organizations are arranged by the individual organization and then by the document type. The organizations include the American String Teachers Association, the Boston Chamber Players, and the Ernst Bacon Society. The American String Teachers Association sub-series includes an outline from a workshop given by Dorothy Bales, handwritten notes from the 1977 International String Workshop in Lausanne, Switzerland, an itinerary from the 1979 National ASTA Convention, a ballot for officer election and a certificate of membership. The Boston Chamber Players sub-series includes correspondence from schools, a collection of letters from students, general advertisements for the group, sample programs, contracts, performance schedules and a duplicate concert program that is also included in the Concert Program series. The Ernst Bacon Society sub-series includes correspondence from the group, newspaper clippings, and a miscellaneous folder that includes a member list, the Articles of the Organization issued by the Massachusetts government and meeting minutes.

The Recordings series includes LPs and reel-to-reel recordings of Dorothy Bales’ and Allan Sly’s Twentieth Century Folk Songs for Violin as well as correspondence with a representative of Orion Master Recordings, Inc., the company that issued the LP. There are also miscellaneous papers regarding the recording and publishing of Twentieth Century Folk Songs for Violin including sample track listings and drafts for the album cover. Also included in this series are the LPs that correspond to Bales’ violin method workbook, Rounds on Record.

The Photographs series is organized by each photograph’s subject matter. These include candid photographs of Dorothy Bales and Robert Freed Bales, photographed both alone and together, as well as professional headshots and performance photographs of Dorothy Bales and group photos that include either Dorothy Bales or Robert Freed Bales and other people. Also, there are photographs of other musicians, including Audley Green, Rudolf Serkin, and Nathan Milstein. There is also a sub-series of autographed photographs from other musicians that include Nathan Milstein, Roland Nadeau, Ivan Galamian, Henri Temianka, Isaac Stern and Gabriel Bouillon. In addition, there are candid photographs with the subjects identified on the back as well as candid photographs of unidentified people. There are also photographs of miscellaneous landscapes, and building interiors and exteriors, including a photograph of the exterior of Dorothy and Robert Freed Bales’ home in Weston, Massachusetts. There are three additional envelopes of color photographs of a personal nature including family photos, social gatherings, travel photos etc. Unfortunately most of them are unidentified. Lastly, there are also some photograph negatives included.

Included in the Miscellaneous series are handwritten notes, various newspaper clippings and a copy of the 23rd Psalm. There is also a sub-series of music-related miscellaneous material which includes reviews and advertisements for scores, recordings, music schools, performances, workshops, event calendars, newspaper clippings, concert programs, program notes, a short autobiography of Allan Sly, blank postcards from Italy, and a tour schedule for the Temianka Little Orchestra. Also there are two pencil sketches by S. Gilman from 1993.


Container List

Series 1: Personal documents

Box 1 – Folder 1
    Personal Documents

Series 2: Correspondence

Box 1 – Folder 2
    Correspondence, family
Box 1 – Folder 3
    Correspondence, to Robert Freed Bales
Box 1 – Folder 4
    Correspondence, between Robert Freed Bales and Dorothy Bales
Box 1 – Folder 5
    Correspondence, from Dorothy Bales
Box 1 – Folder 6
    Correspondence, professional
Box 1 – Folder 7
    Correspondence, personal, A-C
Box 1 – Folder 8
    Correspondence, personal, D-L
Box 1 – Folder 9
    Correspondence, personal, M-P
Box 1 – Folder 10
    Correspondence, personal, R-Z
Box 1 – Folder 11
    Correspondence, personal journals
Box 1 – Folder 12
    Correspondence, miscellaneous

Series 3: Publicity

Box 1 – Folder 13
    Publicity, biographies
Box 1 – Folder 14
    Publicity, press releases and newsletters
Box 1 – Folder 15
    Publicity, newspaper clippings, 1948-1993
Box 1 – Folder 16
    Publicity, newspaper clippings, undated
Box 1 – Folder 17
    Publicity, miscellaneous

Series 4: Concert Programs

Box 1 – Folder 18
    Concert Programs, 1952-1958
Box 1 – Folder 19
    Concert Programs, 1960-1969
Box 1 – Folder 20
    Concert Programs, 1970-1979
Box 1 – Folder 21
    Concert Programs, 1980-1986
Box 1 – Folder 22
    Concert Programs, 1987-1989
Box 1 – Folder 23
    Concert Programs, 1990-1993
Box 1 – Folder 24
    Concert Programs, 1994-1997
Box 1 – Folder 25
    Concert Programs, unspecified year

Series 5: Teaching Materials

Box 1 – Folder 26
    Teaching Materials, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Box 1 – Folder 27
    Teaching Materials, miscellaneous

Series 6: Publications

Box 1 – Folder 28
    Publications, Tunes on Tape
Box 1 – Folder 29
    Publications, Tunes on Tape, with notes
Box 1 – Folder 30
    Publications, Tunes on Taps, draft notes and music
Box 1 – Folder 31
    Publications, Tunes on Tape, reviews and surveys
Box 1 – Folder 32
    Publications, Charles Castleman, drafts, research and correspondence
Box 1 – Folder 33
    Publications, American String Teacher, “String Playing by Way of the Brain”
Box 1 – Folder 34
    Publications, American String Teacher, miscellaneous
Box 1 – Folder 35
    Publications, drafts
Box 1 – Folder 36
    Publications, miscellaneous

Series 7: Organizations

Box 1 – Folder 37
    Organizations, American String Teachers Association
Box 1 – Folder 38
    Organizations, Boston Chamber Players, correspondence
Box 1 – Folder 39
    Organizations, Boston Chamber Players, miscellaneous
Box 1 – Folder 40
    Organizations, Ernst Bacon Society, publicity
Box 1 – Folder 41
    Organizations, Ernst Bacon Society, correspondence
Box 1 – Folder 42
    Organizations, Ernst Bacon Society, newspaper clippings
Box 1 – Folder 43
    Organizations, Ernst Bacon Society, miscellaneous

Series 8: Recordings

Box 2 – Folder 1
    Recordings, Orion Master Recordings, Inc., correspondence
Box 2 – Folder 2
    Recordings, Orion Master Recordings, Inc., miscellaneous
Box 2 – LP 1 (2 copies)
    Recordings, Twentieth Century Folk Songs for Violin, master copy
Box 2 – LP 2 (3 copies)
    Recordings, Twentieth Century Folk Songs for Violin
Box 2 – LP 3 (2 copies 2 discs per copy)
    Recordings, Rounds on Record: A Direct Method for Violin - Dorothy Bales

Series 9: Photographs

Box 2 – Folder 3
    Photographs, Dorothy Bales, professional headshots
Box 2 – Folder 4
    Photographs, Group Photographs
Box 2 – Folder 5
    Photographs, Other musicians
Box 2 – Folder 6
    Photographs, Autographed photographs
Box 2 – Folder 7
    Photographs, unidentified people

Box 2 – Envelope 1
    Photographs, Dorothy Bales, candid photographs
Box 2 – Envelope 2
    Photographs, Dorothy Bales and Robert Freed Bales, candid photographs
Box 2 – Envelope 3
    Photographs, Robert Freed Bales, candid photographs
Box 2 – Envelope 4
    Photographs, Dorothy Bales, performance photographs
Box 2 - Envelope 5
     Photographs, identified people
Box 2 – Envelope 6
    Photographs, buildings, interior
Box 2 – Envelope 7
     Photographs, buildings, exterior
Box 2 – Envelope 8
    Photographs, landscapes
Box 2 -  Envelope 9
    Photographs, personal
Box 2 - Envelope 10
    Photographs, personal
Box 2 - Envelope 11
    Photographs, personal
Box 2 – Envelope 12
    Photographs, negatives

Series 10: Miscellaneous

Box 2 – Folder 8
Box 2 – Folder 9
    Miscellaneous, music-related
Box 2 - Envelope 13 (oversize)
     Pencil sketches