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Carlyle Petersilea

Carlyle Petersilea, concert pianist, was born in Boston on January 14, 1844.

His first teacher was his father, a noted teacher and inventor of the Petersilea Method of Music Teaching. Young Carlyle’s progress was so swift that he gave his first public recital at the age of twelve, and he also began to teach at that time. In 1856 he was heard by the great pianist Sigismund Thalberg (1812-1871), who believed that Carlyle had a great future ahead of him.

Carlyle Petersilea’s History

Petersilea traveled to Leipzig, Germany, when he was eighteen, to study at the conservatory with Moscheles, Reneicke and others. While in Leipzig, Carlyle suffered a severe case of typhoid fever and he was advised by his doctor to return to America. In 1868, Petersilea began teaching on the faculty of the newly founded New England Conservatory, first from 1868-1869 and then again from 1887-1891. He taught piano, harmony and composition, canon and fugue, and instrumentation. In 1871 he established the ‘Petersilea Academy of Music’ (also known as the ‘Petersilea Academy of Music, Elocution, and Languages’). Petersilea spent the spring of 1884 with Liszt in Weimar. His academy in Boston remained open for fifteen years, after which Petersilea went back to teaching at NEC from 1887-1891. In 1892, Petersilea moved to California where he and his wife built a home at Tropico, near Los Angeles.  He was the author of books on spiritualism: Mary Anne Carew; and other books such as Mark Chester: A Tale of Southern California (1901). It was there that Carlyle Petersilea died of a stroke in June 1903.

Archival Collection

This collection consists of one envelope containing sixteen items.

The precise provenance is unknown but since Petersilea was on the NEC faculty and his student Inez Day appears to have studied with him at NEC, having studied with him previously at another institution, it seems likely that Petersilea donated the collection himself.

Access to the Carlyle Petersilea Papers is granted by the NEC Archivist. Appointments must be scheduled in advance. 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 the NECA 19.22. Carlyle Petersilea Papers, New England Conservatory Archives, Boston, MA

This collection consists of sixteen items. There are two pieces of correspondence dating from 1888 from Carlyle Petersilea to his pupil Inez Day.  There are two receipts. One is Miss Inez Day’s tuition receipt from the Petersilea Academy of Music, Elocution, and Languages, dated October 16, 1880. The second is from the purchase of a Chickering Grand Piano in November 1880. There is one brief biographical clipping about Petersilea. There is one recital program from the Petersilea Academy of Music dated January 19, 1882. Miss Inez Day was one of the pupils who performed on this concert. Additionally there are 10 concert programs of pupils who were students of Petersilea dating from 1876-1880. All ten of these concerts took place in Union Hall.