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American Music from A to Z in the NLS Music Collection: E—Eastman School of Music

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In our alphabetical journey through the NLS Music Collection, we have arrived this month at the letter E. It just so happens that 2021 is the centennial of the founding of one of the world’s leading music schools, the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Composers, educators, performers, and other music pioneers from this prestigious institution are represented far and wide throughout our holdings. Composers such as Howard Hanson, Peter Mennin, and Charles Strouse (Bye, Bye Birdie and Annie), jazz musicians Ron Carter and Chuck Mangione, conductor Frederick Fennell, performers such as Allen Vizzutti, and educators Kent Kennan and H. Owen Reed populate our collection. The story of the Eastman School of Music begins with the vision of its founder, George Eastman (1854-1932).

George Eastman, 1854-1932. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

George Eastman was born in 1854 in Waterville, New York. That same year, his father, George Washington Eastman, established Eastman’s Commercial College in Rochester. The family moved to Rochester in 1860, but two years later, the elder Eastman died suddenly, leaving his family with few financial resources. George Eastman left school at age 14 to support his mother, Maria Kilbourn Eastman, and two older sisters, Ellen and Kate. He first worked at a local insurance company and then as a junior clerk at the Rochester Savings Bank. At age 23, George Eastman began experimenting with photography, seeking to improve the technology of equipment that was bulky, heavy, and expensive at that time. He founded the Eastman Dry Plate Company in 1884, and later re-named it the Eastman Kodak Company in 1892.

George Eastman and Thomas Edison are pictured demonstrating a motion picture camera in front of George Eastman's house in Rochester, New York. Eastman was a pioneer in photography and a patron of the arts. He was the founder of the Eastman School of Music.
George Eastman (left) and Thomas Edison with motion picture camera at Eastman’s house in Rochester, New York, where a demonstration of the new Kodacolor film was being held. [Date unknown]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
During his life, Eastman donated over $100 million to charitable organizations, educational and art institutions, and public entities such as hospitals and parks. In his will, he left funds that would encourage expansion of medical facilities and appreciation of the arts in Rochester. He established the Eastman School of Music in 1921 as the first professional school of the University of Rochester. The original vision of a music school dedicated to the highest levels of artistry and scholarship is still alive and vital through the Eastman School’s numerous creative endeavors. Today, students can hear and perform the full spectrum of music: from opera to jazz, from medieval music to new works composed by their fellow students.

The legacy of musical leadership at Eastman is astounding. Since 1921, the Eastman School of Music has had only seven directors. Composer Howard Hanson served as Director of Eastman School from 1924-1964. Under his leadership the school developed into an institution in which students could receive a well-rounded education while concentrating upon their professional studies. The world-renowned Eastman Wind Ensemble, founded in 1952 by Frederick Fennell, has had only four conductors in its history: Mark Scatterday, Donald Hunsberger, A. Clyde Roller, and Fennell. The Sibley Music Library, founded in 1904 and later absorbed by the Eastman School in 1922, had three directors from 1922-1999: Barbara Duncan (1922-1947), Ruth T. Watanabe (1947-1984), and Mary Wallace Davidson (1984-1999). The Sibley Library is the largest music library affiliated with any college or university in the United States.

A true American institution, the Eastman School of Music has helped shape the musical culture of the United States for 100 years. The Festivals of American Music, a project started by George Eastman in 1930 lasting until 1971, saw more than 200 compositions receive their first performance, with the composers being present for the rehearsals and the public concerts. It is through this and other programs that the Eastman School of Music has become a flagship musical institution in the United States. As George Eastman stated in 1921, “The life of our communities in the future needs what our schools of music and of other fine arts can give them. It is necessary for people to have an interest in life outside their occupations.”

If you enjoyed learning about the Eastman School of Music, then please peruse these titles from the NLS Collection that relate to this post. You can download most of these selections from BARD, or borrow hard copies in braille or on cartridge by calling us at 800-424-8567 extension 2, or through e-mail at [email protected]. If you are new to BARD, you may find the following links helpful: Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) and BARD Access.


Aaseng, Nathan. Better Mousetraps: Product Improvements that Led to Success. This book focuses on “improvers, refiners, and polishers,” instead of “first” inventors. Includes people such as George Eastman, who made a better camera; King C. Gillette, who improved the razor; Frank J. Zamboni, who made better ice resurfacers; and companies such as Pepperidge Farm and its better bread, and Otis, with its improved elevators. For grades 4-7. (DB33257)

Appelbaum, Larry. Jazz Conversation: Ron Carter and Larry Appelbaum. The Library’s Larry Appelbaum talks with legendary jazz bassist and Eastman graduate Ron Carter. Carter is a Grammy-winning performer, composer, and educator, a master musician at the top of his form. His astonishing roster of more than 2,000 recordings with collaborators that include Lena Horne, B.B. King, and Miles Davis is a thread that runs through jazz history, connecting blues, swing, bebop, hip-hop and funk. (DBM04268)

Argento, Dominick. Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe. Selections from the opera Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe with commentary by Alfred Glasser and Frank Galati. Argento earned his Ph.D from the Eastman School of Music. (DBM01604)

Chamber Orchestra. Frederick Fennell conducts the Eastman School of Music’s chamber orchestra in performances of Alessandro Scarlatti’s Concerto Grosso in F minor and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony no. 29 in A major; a brief introduction to these composers and works is given. (DBM00218)

Haydn and Handel: Masterpieces of Chamber Music. Eastman School of Music students perform Michael Haydn’s Quintet for strings in C major and Handel’s Passacaglia arranged for violin and viola by Johan Halvorsen. (DBM00302)

Mitchell, Barbara. Click! : A Story about George Eastman. The life story of George Eastman, who made a camera simple enough for everyone to use. For grades 3-6. (DB25485)

Strouse, Charles. By Strouse. Charles Strouse, who composed the score of Bye, Bye Birdie, discusses the importance of a composer’s involvement in arranging and orchestrating melodies. At the age of 15 he entered the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester. After graduating in 1947, he won two scholarships to Tanglewood, where he studied under Aaron Copland. (DBM00560)


Argento, Dominick. Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night. Soprano part from Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night, an opera based on Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Argento studied with Alan Hovhaness and Howard Hanson at Eastman, and would later serve on the faculty there. Line by line format. (BRM36015)

Dett, R. Nathaniel. Juba: A Dance from the Suite “In the Bottoms”. Robert Nathaniel Dett (October 11, 1882 – October 2, 1943), often known as R. Nathaniel Dett and Nathaniel Dett, was a Canadian-American Black composer, organist, pianist, choral director, and music professor. Even after being awarded honorary doctorates in music from Howard University in 1924 and Oberlin in 1926, he chose to enroll at the graduate program at the Eastman School of Music in 1931. For piano in bar over bar format. (BRM27832)

____ Listen to the Lambs. For SATB and piano in line by line and bar over bar formats. (BRM04462)

____ Rise Up, Shepherd and Follow. For TTBB chorus in paragraph format. (BRM04013)

Kennan, Kent. Counterpoint: Based on Eighteenth Century Practice. Kennan studied at Eastman with Howard Hanson in the 1930’s. Contracted braille. Also available in large print at LPM00198. (BRM22142)

____ Sonata. For trumpet and piano in line by line and section by section formats. (BRM17014)

____ The Technique of Orchestration. Contracted braille and bar over bar formats. Also available in large print at LPM00287. (BRM12911)

____ The Technique of Orchestration: Musical Examples. Musical examples from chapters 9-16 of Kent Kennan’s The Technique of Orchestration. Line by line and bar over bar formats. (BRM36649)

McHose, Allen Irvine. The Contrapuntal Harmonic Technique of the 18th Century. Eastman School of Music Series. (BRM20686)

____ Sight-Singing Manual. Eastman School of Music Series. (BRM20899)

Mennin, Peter. Bought Locks: SSA with piano. Mennin studied orchestration with Howard Hanson at Eastman and earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in 1945. Line by line and bar over bar formats. (BRM22057)

____ Five Piano Pieces. Bar over bar format. (BRM22018)

Nelson, Ron. The Christmas Story. For unaccompanied chorus and narrator. V. 1 soprano I; v. 2 soprano II; v. 3 alto; v. 4 tenor I; v.5 tenor II; v.6 bass I; v.7 bass II; v.8 narrator. Nelson received three academic degrees from Eastman, culminating with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1957. (BRM04768)

Rachmaninoff, Sergei. Concerto No. 2 in C minor, op. 18. This transcription includes the first piano part of the two-piano version. Transcribed by Lawrence R. Smith, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music. Bar over bar format. (BRM36508)

Reed, H. Owen. A Workbook in the Fundamentals of Music. These timeless tools provide teachers with a systematic approach for presenting the fundamentals of music theory for both private and classroom instruction. Reed received his Ph.D. from Eastman and would serve on the faculty at Michigan State University for 37 years. (BRM23634)

Rubinstein, Anton. Melody in F: for piano. One of the most popular piano pieces by Anton Rubinstein in bar over bar format. Transcribed by Lawrence R. Smith, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music. (BRM36572)

Vizzutti, Allen. Dynamic Dances: Graded Concert Studies for Flute. Unaccompanied solo flute pieces for advanced students. Vizzutti is a trumpet virtuoso. He graduated from Eastman in 1976 and has performed on the original motion picture soundtrack recordings to Back to the Future and many of the Star Trek movies. Single line format. (BRM36635)

____ The Allen Vizzutti Trumpet Method. Book 1: Technical Studies; Book 2: Harmonic Studies; Book 3: Melodic Studies. Single line and section by section formats. Book 1. (BRM35717) Book 2. (BRM33021) Book 3. (BRM33023)

Comments (2)

  1. I received my Ph.D. degree from Eastman in 1958. Dominick Argento and I shared an office, as graduate assistants, for two years.

    • Hi Lawrence! Thank you for sharing your Eastman experience with us! That must have been a thrilling time to be at such a wonderful institution. I would be very interested in hearing about your time at there. The recordings of the Eastman Wind Ensemble under Fennell were the gold standard for band music for a long time.

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