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Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival – 1952

Resources in Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh



The Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival, held November 24-30, 1952, garnered the city’s musical community in performances of newly composed works with a virtual “who’s-who” of living composers in the western musical world.

This week-long series of concerts was held in conjunction with the 56th Carnegie Museum of Art International and originally conceived by composer Roy Harris. Sponsored by Carnegie Institute and the Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University), with performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra plus a wide-ranging number of local musical organizations and soloists, the Festival is now considered a cumulative benchmark of important musical composition in the middle of the 20th Century.

Organization of the Festival began with a survey of the nation’s leading music academics, music critics and writers to establish a list of leading mid-20th century composers. Those selected by the Festival jurors were then invited to submit new compositions for performance in this ten-concert event, all under the commission of the American Society of Composers, Publishers and Authors (ASCAP).

The results of this competition saw the world premiere of new musical works by Luigi Dallapicola, Ross Lee Finney, Alberto Ginastera, Vincent Persichetti, Francis Poulenc, and Heitor Villa-Lobos among others. Composers in attendance who conducted or performed their own works included Roy Harris and Vincent Persichetti.

Concerts were held in Carnegie Institute’s acoustically renowned Carnegie Music Hall and in Syria Mosque Auditorium, the performance venue (now demolished) of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Program & Press Book

The “Official Program” is a complete record of the Festival concert programs, composers and performing artists, as well as other related events.
rq ML42.P6 P64 1952x

The “Press Book” is a set of two folio-size scrapbooks compiled by Mrs. Royal Daniel immediately following the event. It contains numerous general news releases, newspaper reviews, jurors’ ballots and replies, surveys, vote tabulations and other related documents.
Folio qr ML38.P5P579 1952x v. 1-2


Vinyl Record: “Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival [sound recording], 1954.” Call number: r AL 15624.

Recordings of the Festival performances, produced by the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1954, can be found in a box set of 20 LP recordings, shelved in the Music Department’s reference collection. Further details are available through an online catalog search of Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival.

Music Manuscripts

The following composers’ manuscripts and facsimiles are housed in the closed stacks.

  • Chevreuille, Raymond. “Vox Belgarum; cantata pour choeur, op. 52.”
    rq ML96.5.C567 V6 1952x
  • Dallapiccola, Luigi. “Quaderno musicale di Annalibera, per pianoforte.”
    qr 786.4 D16
  • Lopatnikoff, Nikolai. “Vocalise, for mixed voices.”
    rq M1582.L66 V6 1952x
  • Phillips, Burrill. “‘A Bucket of Water’ for mixed chorus and piano.”
    rq M1552.P5 P8 1952x
  • Poulenc, Francis. “Ave verum corpus, motet a 3 voix de femmes.”
    qr M 783.2 P86
  • Rosenberg, Hilding Constantin. “Svenska folkvisor.”
    rq M1582.R67 S9 1952x
  • Read, Gardner. “The Golden harp.”
    rq M2092.R43 G6 1952x
  • Saeverud, Harald. “Shepherd’s farewell.”
    rq M1582.S25 S52 1952x
  • Villa-Lobos, Heitor. “Duas lendas Amerindias em Nheengatu.”
    qr M1582.V55 L4 1952x
  • Willan, Healey. “Chansons Canadiennes.”
    rM1678.C46 1952x

Vertical File Materials

The Pittsburgh Music Information File, found in the Music Department (2nd Floor) contains a clipping file folder under the heading “Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival, 1952.” It contains duplicate copies of the Official Program, also a 31-page booklet of thumbnail biographical sketches of the 47 composers included in the ten-concert series and a handbook for the participating local musicians and other documents.

Related Publications

Ballot and Replies, Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival, 1952..”
rq ML 38 .P5 P579 1952x

Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival. Congress of Critics Forum.
Music and Painting in the Twentieth Century.
rq ML 3880 .P58 1952x


For further information about these collections,
contact Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Music Department.
Phone: 412.622.3105

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