Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Dvořák/Thurber mss., ca. 1885–1937, consist of documents, correspondence, and ephemera relating to Antonín Dvořák, Jeanette M. Thurber, and the history of the National Conservatory of Music of America (NCMA). These materials were collected by Professor Robert Aborn, whose dissertation The Influence on American Musical Culture of Dvořák's Sojourn in America, may be read in its entirety at:

Jeanette M. Thurber founded the National Conservatory of Music in 1885, which was based on the Paris Conservatoire model. In addition to replicating the European Conservatories to which American students had been turning in order to obtain a first class musical education, she also hoped to train as yet untrained students, the disabled, and African-Americans as well as to encourage an indigenous music culture in the United States. Antonin Dvořák was the director from 1892–1895. Dvořák (September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904) was a Czech composer of Romantic music. During his time in America, among other compositions, Dvořák wrote Symphony No. 9 "From the New World," String Quartet in F (the "American"), and the String Quintet in E flat, as well as a Sonatina for violin and piano.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. NCMA Publicity; II. NCMA Legal; III. Clippings; IV. Ephemera; V. Correspondence; VI. Photographs; VII. Audio-Visual Materials.

The NCMA Publicity series includes various catalogs, pamphlets, and other materials relating to the National Conservatory of Music of America. NCMA Legal contains legal documents from the National Conservatory of Music of America including contracts and materials related to government Acts. Of particular interest is Dvořák's contract with NCMA, which includes his signature. The Clippings series is made up of news clippings related to the NCMA and the people connected to it.

Correspondence is arranged by sender, followed by chronologically within sender. Of particular interest are the letters of Dvořák and Jeannette M. Thurber. The photographs series is almost entirely made up of photos of letters in the collection; one photo is of Jeannette M. Thurber. Audio-Visual contains CD-Rs with scans of materials found in the collection.

An inventory is available.

Acquired: 2008, 2009

Collection size: 150 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.