William Albright Papers, 1962-1998
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research.
- Albright, William.
- William Albright--organist, composer, and University of Michigan faculty member--was born in Indiana in 1944 and died in 1998. Albright earned three music composition degrees from the University of Michigan before becoming a member of the composition faculty at the U. of M. School of Music. Albright is probably best known for his piano and organ performance. He helped to bring about a revival of ragtime, and sought inclusion of ragtime and other types of popular music in many of his compositions. He composed for many single instruments--especially the organ--and ensembles, and for orchestra. He also composed hymns, and was the music director for the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan. He studied composition with Ross Lee Finney, George Rochberg, and Olivier Messiaen, among others, at Michigan and at summer workshops, and organ with Marilyn Mason. The collection includes biographical materials, correspondence, programs, professional files, University of Michigan School of Music files, and scores and recordings of William Albright works (including notes, sketches, and manuscripts) and works by his friends, students, and teachers.
- 52 linear feet (in 83 boxes)
- Call Number:
- 00135 Aa 2 UA1
- Finding aid prepared by: Jennifer Jacobs
- Scope and Content:
The William Hugh Albright Papers consist of 77 boxes of musical scores, recordings, and textual documents such as correspondence and lecture notes. Albright's extensive collection of scores and recordings by his friends, students, and mentors is also included. His own works are represented by recordings, original handwritten scores and published versions, and by penciled notes and sketches. The William Hugh Albright Papers are divided into ten series: Photographs, Biographical Materials, Correspondence, Programs, Professional Files, School of Music, The Magic City, Scores, Recordings, and Videocassettes.
- Biographical / Historical:
William Hugh Albright was born in Gary, Indiana in 1944. He received his early training at Juilliard and Eastman School of Music, and he earned three degrees from the University of Michigan: Bachelor of Music (Composition) in 1966, Master of Music (Composition) in 1967, and Doctor of Musical Arts (Composition) in 1970. He studied composition with Ross Lee Finney and Leslie Bassett at Michigan, with George Rochberg while he was at the University of Pennsylvania, and with Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory in 1968-1969. He studied organ with Marilyn Mason at Michigan. He was married twice--to Sarah Ann (Kirk) Albright and Pamela Ann Decker--and had two children, John Kirk Albright and Elizabeth Mae Albright.
Albright is probably best known for his piano and organ performances. He was recognized as a premier organist, performing throughout Europe and North America. He helped to bring about a revival of ragtime, in the vein of Scott Joplin and James P. Johnson, and he sought the inclusion of ragtime and other types of popular music in many of his modernist compositions.
Albright was a prolific composer for many types of single instruments (especially the organ) and ensembles, and for orchestra. He also composed hymns, and was the music director for the First Unitarian-Universalist Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
A member of the composition department faculty of the School of Music at the University of Michigan, he participated in a number of innovative projects, such as the famous Once Festival held in Ann Arbor, and the Electronic Music Laboratory.
Albright composed Organbook I, Organbook II, and Organbook III for his principle instrument. They are some of his most popular works and were inspired by a work by one of his mentors, Olivier Messiaen, Livre d'Orgue.
He composed during the sixties and seventies a number of works containing features associated with modernism, such as graphic notation and atonality. (See, for example, Tic and Organbook I.) By the early 1990s, Albright had distanced himself from "New Music" far enough to be less interested in making new music for the sake of the new, beginning to allow more conventional elements back into his works. Rustles of Spring, 1994 is an example of the directions he was taking near the end of his life. After 1994, Albright listed "The Four Expressions" that were represented by his works: aggression, sensuality, humor and spirituality. Take That for four drummers with 16 large drums (1972) he classified as aggression, "Fantasy-Mazurka" from Five Chromatic Dances for piano solo (1976) as sensuality, Doo-dah for three alto saxophones (1974) and King of Instruments for narrator and organ solo (1978) as humor, and Chasm: Symphonic Fragment for orchestra (1985-89) and "Recessional" from Organbook I for solo organ (1967) as spirituality. (William Albright Papers, Box 1, series "Biographical Materials," folder "Miscellaneous").
The range of Albright's music is described in his entry in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians:
"Although his early organ works reflect the influence of Messiaen in their colorful registration and chromaticism, Albright's later works often combine a complex rhythmic and atonal style with elements of American popular music. Though his works are formally concise, he stresses the value of music as communication and the supremacy in music of intuition, imagination and beauty of sound." (1980 ed. s.v. "Albright, William Hugh," by Don C. Gillespie.)William Albright Compositions:
- Eleven Short Piano Pieces (Set II)
- Nine Pieces for Piano
- Chorale-Partita in an Old Style on "Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten" For Organ
- Quintet, for flute, clarinet, violin, 'cello, harp
- Sonata for Oboe and Harpsichord
- Three Anonymous Lyrics, for soprano, piano, clarinet and cello
- Foils for Wind Ensemble
- Frescos: Four Movements for Woodwind Quartet
- Salvos: Music for Seven Players
- Pianoagogo (written for Russell Peck and Jean-Claude Pennetier), 1965-1966
- Two Pieces for Nine Instruments
- Caroms for Eight Players
- Cul-de-sac, for solo dancer and any number of instruments (with tape)
- Juba, for organ
- Pneuma, for organ
- Amerithon: For solo dancer, any number of instruments, tape (optional), film, projections, and revolving masterworks of art
- Amerithon: Suggestions for interpretation of score (instrumental)
- Beulahland Rag (for David Bloch and the Portland Group for New Music), 1967-1969
- Bolcom's Rag
- Imagined Quarter, an incentive for four percussionists (for the New Percussion Quartet of Buffalo, New York)
- Masculine-Feminine for orchestra
- Organbook: A set of pieces for pipe organ
- Three Original Rags: piano solo, 1967-1968
- Tic: a spectacle for two groups of performers, soloist, films, and tape
- Grand Sonata in Rag
- Marginal Worlds, for 12 instruments (written for the Julliard Ensemble), 1968-1970
- Pour Ceux Qui S'Aiment (words by Albright and E. Kurtz)
- Three Novelty Rags for piano, 1968-1969
- Alliance for Orchestra: A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts (Music: Composition) in the University of Michigan
- The Dream Rags, for piano
- Movement I
- Danse Macabre (commissioned by Bowdoin College for the Aeolian Chamber Players)
- Dirty Eloise (with William Bolcom)
- Mr. Cupid Machine (words and music by William Albright and Bill Bolcom)
- Organbook II (commissioned by Nonesuch Records and Marilyn Mason)
- The Earth is Home (words by Kenneth L. Patton, 1956)
- Night Procession, for chamber orchestra (commissioned by the St. Paul Philharmonic Society--St. Paul Chamber Orchestra)
- Take That, for 4 drummers with 16 drums (written for the Blackearth Percussion Group)
- An Alleluia Super-Round for Eight or more Singers (similar or mixed voices) and Instruments (optional) (written for the conference, "Music in the Church: A Long View," held by the Schola Contorum at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City)
- Father, We Thank Thee: A song of thanksgiving for unison choir, soloist or congregation, with piano or organ accompaniment and optional instruments (written for the conference, "Music in the Church;" see above)
- Gothic Suite for Organ, Strings and Percussion (commissioned by the Syracuse Chapter, American Guild of Organists (AGO))
- Stipendium Peccati, for organ, piano and percussion (written for the Hart College of Music Contemporary Organ Workshop 1973, for performance by Catharine Crozier)
- Chichester Mass: mixed choir a cappella (commissioned for the ninth centenary of Chichester Cathedral, Sussex, England), revised 1979
- Introduction, Passacaglia and Rondo Capriccioso: A concerto for tack piano, seven winds and percussion (commissioned by the University of Wisconsin--River Falls)
- Mass in D (commissioned by Trinity Church, New York City)
- Seven Deadly Sins, for flute, clarinet, string quartet, piano, and optional narrator (commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest 1974)
- Six New Hymns (commissioned by various sources, including the Association of Anglican Musicians in 1981), 1974-1983
- Cross of Gold: music-theater for actors, choir and musicians (commissioned by the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle Decennial Celebration)
- Daydream (written for the Blackearth Percussion Group)
- Doo-Dah, for 3 alto saxophones (commissioned by Saxophone Service/Dorn Productions)
- Dream and Dance, for organ and percussion (commissioned by the American Guild of Organists)
- [composition for Sports Illustrated film:Fun and Games and Deeper Passions]]
- Sweet Sixteenths: a classy rag for piano
- Sweet Sixteenths: a concert rag for organ
- Five Chromatic Dances (commissioned by and dedicated to Thomas Warburton)
- Jericho: Battle music for organ and trumpet (written for the duo Trompeta Reale, with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts)
- Peace Pipe, for two bassoons
- That Saxophone Rag (arrangement), by Sylvan Grosner and Rowland Fixel
- Heater: Saga for solo alto saxophone and band (commissioned by Wapinger Falls (New York) School System)
- Organbook III, 12 etudes for small organ, 1977-1978
- Shadows, eight serenades for guitar (commissioned by the University Musical Society, Ann Arbor)
- Full Moon in March (play by W.B. Yeats)
- Halo, for large organ and metal instruments (commissioned by the American Guild of Organists National Convention Seattle 1978)
- The King of Instruments: A parade of music and verse for organ and narrator (commissioned by the Holtkamp Organ Company for the inauguration of the new organ at Sacred Heart Church, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, April 20, 1978)
- The Birth of Jesus/Alleluia for treble voices (SA) and organ with optional mixed choir (SATB) and optional Bells (commissioned by Robert Bishop, dedicated to Dr. and Mrs. C.L. Bishop on their fiftieth anniversary)
- Four Fancies for harpsichord (composed for Douglas Reed with a grant from the Mesker Trust Fund, Evansville, Indiana)
- Birthday Canons
- De Spiritum, organ solo with 2 assistants (commissioned by Marilyn Mason)
- Sweet Sixteenths: a cakewalk for clarinet, trombone, violoncello, piano (commissioned by the Warsaw Music Workshop)
- Bacchanal for Organ Solo and Orchestra (commissioned by the University of Nebraska for their conference, "The Organ in the Concert Hall")
- Pax in Terra, mixed choir, a cappella with soprano and tenor soli (commissioned by the University of Michigan Law School for the dedication of their library addition, October 31, 1981)
- Romance, for french horn and organ (commissioned by John Holtz of the Hartt School of Music)
- David's Songs, for SATB (soloists or chorus) and organ (commissioned by Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis)
- The Enigma Syncopations, for flute (piccolo), contrabass, percussion (1) and organ (commissioned by the Cathedral of St. John, Wilmington, Delaware)
- That Sinking Feeling (morceau de concours) (commissioned for the International Organ Performance Competition at the University of Michigan)
- Brass Tacks--Ragtime March (commissioned by the Spokane Falls Brass Band)
- In memoriam (commissioned for publication inDas neue Orgelalbum II, Universal Edition)
- A Song to David: for antiphonal choirs, soloists, organ, poem by Christopher Smart (commissioned by the Cathedral Church of St. Mark, Minneapolis)
- Canon in D (Berimbau!) (commissioned by the duo Gary Karr/Harmon Lewis)
- 1732: in memoriam Johannes Albrecht (commissioned by Robert Anderson, Southern Methodist University, for premiere at the St. Nikolai Church, Leipzig, during the Church Music Festival, Bach Tercentenary, 1985)
- Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano (commissioned through the National Endowment for the Arts by Saxophone/Piano duos: Sinta/Weckler, Wytko/Cosand, Hunter/Connely)
- Carillon-Bombarde for Organ (commissioned by Margaret Lee Crofts for the re-dedication of the historic Chapman tracker organ at St. Margaret's Church, Staatsburg-on-Hudson, New York)
- Chasm for pipe organ (with optional "echo" instrument) (commissioned by the Detroit and Ann Arbor Chapters of the American Guild of Organists for the National Convention, 1986)
- Sphaera, for piano and computer generated four-channel tape (commissioned by the Experimental Music Studio of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with funding from the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities)
- Symphony for Organ, with percussion (or pre-recorded tape) (commissioned by the University of Evansville and the UE Friends of Music with the support of the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts)
- Take Up the Song, for mixed choir, soprano solo and piano (commissioned by the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network for the Service of the Living Tradition at the General Assembly of the Unitarian-Universalist Church, June 25, 1986, Rochester, New York)
- Three New Chestnuts, for two harpsichords (commissioned by the Alienor foundation)
- Antigone's Reply (Sophocles) (commissioned by the University of Michigan Law School)
- Four Dance Tributes, for piano solo, 1987-1996
- Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet (commissioned by a consortium of Chamber Music Northwest, Music Festival of Florida and the Toledo Symphony Chamber Music Series, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts)
- Saints Preserve Us: Three "Etudes-prieres" for Solo Clarinet (commissioned by Father Robert Onofrey)
- Shepherd of All Who Inhabit the Earth (hymn; commissioned by Robert Anderson for Robert Baker)
- Stoptime for George's Birthday (commissioned by Gene Rochberg for George's 70th birthday celebration)
- Abiding Passions for Woodwind Quintet (for the Sierra Wind Quintet, Quintet-in-residence at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
- Deum de Deo: A trilogy of pieces for mixed chorus with organ or piano accompaniment (commissioned by Central United Methodist Church of Lansing, Michigan)
- The Machine Age: A set of short piano pieces for our time (commissioned by the Music Teachers Association of California)
- Sleight of Hand Rag arrangement (fromThree Novelty Rags)
- Valley of Fire for sax quartet and organ
- Whistler Nocturnes (commissioned by the Howard Art Museum)
- Organ Improvisation Themes
- Concerto for Harpsichord and String Orchestra (Commissioned by the Cleveland Museum of Art for their 75th Anniversary. Second movement commissioned by the Cleveland Chamber Orchestra.)
- Flights of Fancy: Ballet for Organ (commissioned by the American Guild of Organists for the Biennial National Convention Atlanta, Georgia, June-July, 1992), 1991-1992
- New Leaves, for piano solo, Volume One (commissioned for FJH Music by Faber and Faber)
- Odds and Ends, for piano solo
- A Ragtime Lullaby (written for Karen McFarlane's fiftieth birthday, January 2, 1992)
- Deo Gratias [fromDeo de Deus] : arrangement for voice and 5 players
- Dona Nobis Pacem, for mixed chorus and piano (commissioned by the Ann Arbor Cantata Singers)
- The Eleventh Hour
- The Great Amen, for flute and piano (commissioned by Jill Felber, Penelope Fischer and Karen Johnson)
- Fantasy-Etudes for Saxophone Quartet (for the Prism Quartet, commissioned by Chamber Music America with funds from the Pew Charitable Trusts)
- Pit Band, for alto saxophone, bass clarinet and pianoforte (commissioned by Monmouth State College, Oregon, for the ensemble, Soundmoves)
- Rustles of Spring, 1994, for flute, alto saxophone, violin, violoncello, pianoforte (commissioned by the Meet the Composer/Reader's Digest Commissioning Program, and the national Endowment for the Arts and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund)
- Bells in the Air for Carillon: A set of six pieces (Commissioned by former Engineering School Dean and Mrs. Peter Banks)
- Cod Piece from "Fish Music" (commissioned by Ron Ebrecht)
- Missa Brevis, for soprano or unison treble voices and organ (commissioned by Karen McFarlane and Chris Holtkamp in honor of Walter Holtkamp, Jr.'s forty years of organ building)
- Post Modern Fox Trot, for Glenn Watkins
- Chorale-Prelude for Advent: Nun komm der Heiden heiland (Savior of the nations, come!) (commissioned for A New Liturgical Year, Augsburg-Fortress Press, John Ferguson, editor)
- Flights of Fancy: Ballet for Band (commissioned by the University of Michigan Symphony Bands for their Centennial Celebration, 1997)
- Postcards from Kansas: Welcome to Interstate-70
- [Calgary Organ Concerto] (unfinished)
- Bells in the Air: Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra
- Burnt-Fingers (a Characteristic Two-Step)
- Flourish [for percussion and vibraphone]
- Movement, for woodwind quintet
- Old Tom Turpin
- Paroxysms, for clarinet and piano
- Tower of Babel: Rag and Two-Step after Bruegel
- Vision, by Don West
- Acquisition Information:
Summary Contents List
- Biographical Materials (Box 1)
- Programs (Boxes 5-8)
- Professional Files (Boxes 8-9)
- School of Music (Boxes 9-10)
- Magic City (Box 10)
- Scores (Boxes 11-58)
- William Albright Scores (Boxes 11-19, 47 and 55-56)
- William Albright Parts (Boxes 19-21 and 58)
- Piano Music (Box 22)
- Organ Music (Boxes 23-26, 48 and 57)
- Various Composers (Boxes 27-46, 48-54 and 57-58)
- Recordings (Boxes 59-81)
- William Albright Works (Boxes 59-62, 69-71, 75-76 and 78)
- William Albright Published Recordings
- Compact Discs (Box 77)
- Long-Playing Records (Box 77)
- William Albright Performances (Boxes 61-62, 71 and 76)
- William Albright Lectures (Boxes 62, 72 and 78-79)
- Other Composers/Performers (Boxes 62-68, 72-73, 77 and 79-81)
- Videocassettes (Box 77)
- Posters (Box 82)
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Music -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
Music -- Instruction and study.
Music -- Manuscripts.
Orchestral music -- Scores and parts.
Music -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
Music -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
Music -- Instruction and study.
University of Michigan. School of Music.
First Unitarian Universalist Church (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
University of Michigan. Contemporary Directions Ensemble.
Finney, Ross Lee, 1906-1997.
Messiaen, Olivier, 1908-1992.
Morris, Robert, 1943-
Bassett, Leslie, 1923-
Chambers, Evan K., 1963-
Banfield, William C., 1961-
Schwartz, Elliott, 1936-
Curtis-Smith, C. (Curtis), 1941-2014.
Using These Materials
The collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright is retained by the Albright family (or by the composer, in the cases of non-Albright works). Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.
- PREFERRED CITATION:
item, folder title, box no., William Albright Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan