The Curtis Davidson Collection comprises a number of recordings in reel-to-reel, cassette, and compact disc format. These recordings document performances of the Curtis Davidson Orchestra and Curtis Davidson and his Southerners from 1930-1980. The recordings are primarily of the genre called Dixieland jazz which was prominent in New Orleans and the Big Bend area during this time.
Curtis Davidson (1913-2001) was a trumpeter from Quincy, Florida who was dedicated to sharing his passion for Dixieland Jazz music throughout the Southeast. His lifelong love affair with the trumpet started when he was 16 years old. It was during this time that he formed his own Dixieland Jazz group that he would continue to play in almost to the end of his life.
While still in his teens, Davidson became friends with Dan Langford (brother of FSU Foundation Board member George Langford), who was a radio personality in Thomasville, Georgia. Davidson would play live shows in Thomasville for the radio. The response for the sessions was great, and people would send telegrams to the radio stations to make requests for Davidson to play.
Dixieland was made easily available to Mr. Davidson through clear channel radio WWL in New Orleans and the Gulf Wind train. The Gulf Wind train ran from Quincy to New Orleans twice a day. With horn in hand, Davidson would take the train to New Orleans to listen to the music and participate in any jam sessions that might ensue.
It was during his travels to New Orleans, that he began a close friendship with Edmund Souchon. Edmund Souchon was the surgeon general for the Pan American Life Insurance Company. Souchon was a supporter of jazz, and he founded the New Orleans Jazz Festival that still exists today.
Davidson volunteered during World War II, and he served in the Army Corp Band at Keisler Field, in Biloxi, Mississippi. Following the war, he returned to Quincy to manage the largest movie theater between Jacksonville and Pensacola, the Leaf Theater. Mr. Davidson held this position for approximately twenty years.
Davidson spent his nights playing throughout the southeast. He was interested in recording and many of these gigs were recorded on his own Wollensak tape recorder. These reel-to-reel recordings hold a prominent position in the collection. Some recordings feature former FSU professor of piano Dr. Robert Glotzbach and meteorologist Bill Ragsdale, who was known as "Willie the Weatherman."
A list of the contents of the recordings is available:
The Music Library received this collection of theoretical materials from Allen Forte, Battell Professor of Music Theory Emeritus in the Department of Music, Yale University. His research interests include pitch-class set theory, the study of avant-garde music of the twentieth century, and Schenkerian analysis. He has published extensively on these topics including articles in Journal of Music Theory, Music Theory Spectrum, Music Analysis, Perspectives of New Music, and Journal of the American Musicological Society. He began collecting the items given to the Music Library in the early 1950’s and acquisition continued over some two decades. The initial installment of fifty rare books on music theory was offered for sale in the spring of 1998 and was acquired by the Allen Music Library in late August, 1998. This collection included items such as François-Joseph Fétis’ Traité complet de la Théorie et de la Pratique de l’Harmonie (douzième edition, 1879), Johann David Heinichen’s Der General-Bass in der Composition (1728), Jean-Philippe Rameau’s first edition of Traité de l’Harmonie réduite à ses principes naturels (1722), and Rameau’s Génération Harmonique ou traité de musique théorique et pratique (1737). In December, 2010 the Music Library was able to acquire an additional collection of nearly a thousand volumes, some of which have joined the previous volumes in Special Collections while others have been added to the general collection.
For a list of items, please visit the Special Collections page.
The Ferde Grofé Audio Collection contains 144 reel-to-reel audio recordings and 47 cassette tape recordings. Many of these recordings are live performances that range from 1936-1968. Grofé worked as an arranger for a jazz orchestra, a violinist for the Loss Angeles Symphony, a conductor, and a faculty member at the Julliard School of Music where he taught orchestration. A brief biography can be found in the following lines.
Ferdinand (Ferde) Grofé (1892-1972) was an American born composer/arranger that came from four generations of classical musicians. Following his father’s death (1899), Ferde’s mother took him abroad to study piano, viola, and composition in Leipzig. Ferde quickly became proficient over a range of instruments including piano, violin, viola, baritone horn, alto horn, and cornet.
Grofé left home at the age of 14 and worked as a milkman, truck driver, newsboy, elevator operator, iron factory worker, and a pianist in a saloon. These experiences greatly affected his future musical output. Following his first commissioned composition, at the age of 17, he was the arranger for Paul Whiteman’s jazz band. This connection led to one of his most famous arrangements when Grofé orchestrated George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” for its historic 1924 premiere.
As a composer, Grofé’s most memorable work is his Grand Canyon Suite. Whiteman premiered the work in 1931; however, Grofé rescored it for full orchestra (1934), and it was this revised version that made a lasting impression on the public. The Grand Canyon Suite was the first piece of American music conducted by Arturo Toscanini.
Major-General Ethan Allen Hitchcock (1798-1870), the grandson of the famed Ethan Allen, was a major figure in American military history. He served in the United States Army in the Western frontiers and in the South, and garnered a reputation for great intelligence and particularly strong personal integrity. During the Civil War, according to the Tallahassee Democrat (April 14, 1989), Hitchcock was president Abraham Lincoln’s first choice to lead the Union forces, a post which he was forced to decline on account of poor health. He is perhaps best known in Florida for having negotiated the end to the Seminole War in the mid-nineteenth century.
General Hitchcock was also an amateur musician and an avid collector of flute music. A large trunk containing his personal collection of music was discovered in a plantation in Sparta, GA, by FSU flute professor Charles Delaney, who after a more than twenty-year effort negotiated its transfer to the Warren D. Allen Music Library. The donation of the collection was marked, on April 15, 1989, by a recital given by thirteen FSU graduate flute students. Several descendents of Gen. Hitchcock were present for the occasion, where the family formally presented the collection to the university. The collection contains 70 bound volumes and more than 200 pieces of sheet music. Included are pieces for solo flute, as well as flute duets and trios, with or without piano accompaniment, as well as various miscellaneous pieces.
Among others, the repertoire includes music by Jean Louis Tulou, Raphael Dressler, Anton Diabelli, Eugene Walckiers, William Forde, Louis Drouet, Charles Cottignies, Tranquille Berbiguier, and Anton Bernhard Furstenaü, all of whom were contemporaries of Hitchcock. Of the bound volumes, 8 are composed of manuscript copies of music which are in Gen. Hitchcock’s own hand, but for which the source is as yet unascribed. Included in some are letters to and from Gen. Hitchcock.
The music does not appear in the online catalogue. Though much research has been done, no complete catalogue yet exists. The collection is available for research by appointment in the music library.
Nathan Lupu (1906–2000) was an American composer who trained in Chicago from 1928‐1935 with Danish‐born composer and theorist Thorvald Otterström. He composed actively during this period and assisted Otterström with his 1935 manual A Theory of Modulation. Lupu then spent the remainder of his professional life working as a draftsman for Bethlehem Steel, during which time he stopped composing.
He retired to Boynton Beach, Florida in 1967, resumed composing, and studied piano under the late Florida Atlantic University professor Raul Spivak in order to refine his piano technique. Lupu’s Improvisation in G Minor, which he dedicated to Spivak, was selected by the Bicentennial Committee of the Performing Arts to be played on American public radio stations during the 1976 celebration.
Lupu’s music is tonal and lyrical, yet heavily chromatic and adventuresome in its use of harmony; it constantly weaves and shifts from one harmony or key to the next. It is clear that Otterström’s theories, which sought to greatly expand possibilities for modulation and harmonic exploration, had a profound effect on Lupu.
The Nathan Lupu Collection contains the original manuscripts of his 25 known compositions (written almost exclusively for solo piano), manuscripts and exercises on theory, published works by Thorvald Otterström, and biographical material about Nathan Lupu.
The collection was obtained in March 2013 from Florida Atlantic University.
AML Special Collections
A finding aid for this collection is available:
Hal Turner (b. 1930) was active as a pianist, vocalist, vibraphonist, and arranger for many famous personalities around the country during the big band era.
Turner, born in Chicago, was intrigued from a young age with the piano on which he took lessons, claiming music to be his first love. His mother regularly took him to the theaters to see bands as they would come into town, occasionally venturing to hear a group at a local night club or hotel. He performed with many talented musicians including Art Mooney, the Kai Winding Septet, Warren Covington (who had taken over for Tommy Dorsey upon his death), Ray McKinley, and Sammy Kaye.
Describing his arrangements (included in this collection), Turner said “To hear your arrangements come to life and have ten or more musicians playing behind your vocals is indescribable. As anyone in even the smallest of spotlights will tell you the adulation is a part of it. However, standing in front of a band during performances and feeling the satisfaction and joy that exudes from an audience cannot be measured on any scale.”
Turner worked in New York for 19 years, followed by 20 years in Dallas. He currently resides in Sun City Center, Florida where, since 2000, he has worked mainly as a single.
This library of 334 charts, of which approximately 250 were in active use, is written for 2 trumpets, trombone, 2 altos, tenor & baritone saxes, and four rhythm instruments. There are some instances of clarinet doubling in the sax parts, with alto sax also occasionally doubling on flute. Additional parts (instrumental and vocal) are included for some charts as noted. The majority of the arrangements are by Turner with others scattered throughout. A list was supplied with the collection of active and inactive charts as well as a breakdown according to style (as noted in the finding aid).
The collection consists of numbered charts and scores (without parts). These are listed in the following documents: