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Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival, 1952

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.

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.



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. Vinyl Record: “Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival [sound recording], 1954.

Other recordings in the collection can be found through an online catalog search: Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival Recordings.


Music Manuscripts

The following music scores were donated to Carnegie Library after the performances. See table below to access these volumes.

    • Chevreuille, Raymond. “Vox Belgarum; cantata pour choeur, op. 52.”
    • Dallapiccola, Luigi. “Quaderno musicale di Annalibera, per pianoforte.”
    • Finney, Ross Lee. “Immortal autumn, for mixed chorus, tenor solo & organ.”
    • Ginastera, Alberto. ”Sonata, para piano.”
    • Lopatnikoff, Nikolai. “Vocalise, for mixed voices.”
    • Malipiero, Gian Francesco. “Passer mortuus est da Catullo.”
    • Persichetti, Vincent. “Concerto for piano, four hands, op. 56.”
    • Phillips, Burrill. “A Bucket of Water for mixed chorus and piano.”
    • Poulenc, Francis. “Ave verum corpus, motet a 3 voix de femmes.”
    • Read, Gardner. “The Golden harp.”
    • Rosenberg, Hilding Constantin. “Svenska folkvisor.”
    • Saeverud, Harald. “Shepherd’s farewell.”
    • Santa Cruz, Domingo. “Alabanzas del Adviento, pastoral para voces de ninos y organo.”
    • Villa-Lobos, Heitor. “Duas lendas Amerindias em Nheengatu.”
    • Willan, Healey. “Chansons Canadiennes.”


Clipping File

This file contains duplicate copies of the Official Program, a 31-page booklet of thumbnail biographical sketches of the 47 composers included in the ten-concert series, a handbook for the participating local musicians and other documents.

Related Publications


For further information about this collection, contact
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Music Department
Phone: 412.622.3114


List of all Related Items in the Collection

The items are housed in the Music Department at CLP-Main as “Pittsburgh Music Archive #58,” except where noted.

Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival, 1952

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