Thomas Whitney Surette and Concord Summer School of Music Collection, 1846-1981 (bulk 1889-1938)

Vault A20, Unit B7


Rote songsEXTENT: 7 boxes (5 linear feet)

ORGANIZATION AND ARRANGEMENT: Organized into two series:  I. Materials in various formats relating to Thomas Whitney Surette and the Concord Summer School of Music, 1915-1975; II. Materials by form, 1846-1981 (bulk 1889-1938).  Series II divided into three subseries: II.A. Scrapbooks, 1889-1938; II.B. Songbooks and scores, 1846-1927 (most undated); II.C. Playbills, programs, and syllabus brochures, 1923-1981 (bulk 1923-1938)In Subseries II.B, compositions by Thomas Whitney Surette are filed first, followed by a file of scores arranged alphabetically by composer.

Thomas Whitney Surette was born to Frances Jane Surette and Louis Athanase Surette in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1861.  He grew up in a very musical family and began playing music at a young age.  He taught piano and served as the organist for the Unitarian Church in Concord, and took courses at Harvard.  In 1899, Surette married Ada Elizabeth Miles of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

As a music teacher and lecturer, Surette valued taste and depth in composition.  He gained attention through his composition, with Henry D. Coolidge, of the comic opera Priscilla: or, The Pilgrims Proxy, in 1889.  While teaching at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, he continued to write music.  He later became a staff lecturer for the Oxford extension courses at the University of London.

When he returned from England, Surette wrote several newspaper articles about the teaching of music.  The public reaction to some of these may have inspired the creation of the Concord Summer School of Music (CSSM) in 1915.  In 1917 he published Music and Life: A Study of the Relations between Ourselves and Music--a book some have referred to as radical in its critique.  When not teaching the four-week summer course, Surette traveled around the United States and to Europe, giving lectures on various composers and the teaching of music.

In 1937, his wife—the charismatic face of the school—died.  Surette kept the school open for two more years with the particular help of G. Wallace Woodworth.  He then taught at Black Mountain College in 1938.  In 1939, he suffered a stroke, which left him mostly paralyzed. He lived the rest of his days in a nursing home in West Concord where he died in 1941.

Starting small in the home of Thomas Whitney Surette in 1915, the Concord Summer School of Music grew over time, eventually moving to the Parish Hall of Concord’s First Parish Church.  In the 1930s, the school moved to the Concord Academy gymnasium on Main Street. It remained open until 1937.

The mission of the Concord Summer School of Music was to improve the teaching of music.  Already musicians and music teachers, students attended the school primarily to gain a better understanding of their profession and only secondarily to improve their musicality.  Surette passed along his strong belief in teaching an appreciation of beauty in order to teach taste.  He emphasized the importance of teaching students to appreciate good music and poetry over technical ability and virtuosity.  With this aim in mind, the school included much carefully selected choral singing and poetry.  

As the school grew, Surette decided to expand the faculty as well as the facility. He hired teachers who understood his goals from as far away as England.  His students began requesting books to use in their own elementary music classes.  Two professors who shared his vision for the teaching of music helped him fulfil these requests.  Dr. (“Doc”) Archibald T. Davidson and Augustus Zanzig worked together with Surette to compile music books in the Concord Series.  They designed these books to fit the Concord Summer School of Music model for teaching young students music and musical appreciation.  

After the school moved to the Unitarian Church, parties (called “frolics”) became a regular feature.  These frolics always included skits written by the students and often impersonations (particularly of Surette).  There are several frolic photographs in this collection, as well as “dalliances” (funny little songs) written by students to share with Surette.

Mary Walker Delafield was a student at the Concord Summer School of Music, a singer, music teacher, and friend and correspondent of Thomas Whitney Surette. Born Mary Walker, she married Richard M. Delafield.  Her sister, Challis Walker Calandria, also attended the Concord Summer School of Music.  This collection includes papers and recollections donated by Mrs. Delafield.

A Harvard graduate, and a teacher and pianist in New York, Wesley Weyman, was a pupil of Tobias Matthay in London, Leschetsky in Vienna, and Godowsky in New York. He came to the Concord Summer School for three or four summers in the late 1920s and gave lectures each week on the history of dance.  He played dance music written by English, French, and Italian composers, and told stories about different kings and queens who were interested in dancing and inventing new steps to different melodies.  
Augustus T. Zanzig was a teacher at the Concord Summer School of Music and a co-compiler with Thomas Whitney Surette and Archibald T. Davison on several music books.  He gave a copy of his syllabus to Mary Walker Delafield for her to use in teaching.

Katherine K. Davis, composer of songs, piano and organ music, cantatas, children’s operettas, choruses, operas, and “Carol of the Drum,” was a student at the Concord Summer School of Music.  She donated papers including documents from her experiences at the school and with Surette to the William Munroe Special Collections of the Concord Free Public Library.

SCOPE AND CONTENT: An artificial collection, pieced together from various donations, mostly from former students.  The collection pertains to both Thomas Whitney Surette and the Concord Summer School of Music and contains papers and records generated between 1846 and 1981 (the bulk of the material between 1889 and 1938).  The collection includes: personal and professional correspondence; typescripts and news articles about Thomas Whitney Surette and the Concord Summer School of Music; student enrollment lists and cards; diaries by Mary Walker Delafield from her time as a student at the school; scrapbooks compiled by the Surettes; musical scores, primarily for the piano forte, some composed by T. W. Surette; photographs (primarily of students, visitors to the school, and friends of the Surettes); and programs for musical performances and lectures.  The scrapbooks span the years 1899-1937.

SOURCES OF ACQUISITION: Multiple donors (including Mary Walker Delafield, Katherine K. Davis, Kathleen Uhler Adams, the estate of G. Wallace Woodworth, and Florence M. Pray) over a period of years.

RELATED COLLECTIONS: The William Munroe Special Collections of the Concord Free Public Library holds a variety of materials relating to Katherine K. Davis

PUBLICATION BASED ON USE OF COLLECTION: Adams, Kathleen U. Thomas Whitney Surette: A Crusader for Good Music. Cambridge: Windflower Press, 1983. Print.

PROCESSED BY: M. Potter; finding aid completed December 02, 2014.



Series I.  Materials in various formats relating to Thomas Whitney Surette and the Concord Summer School of Music, 1915-1975:

Box 1, Folder 1:
Cassette tape recording of Mary Walker Delafield (by John Norwood) regarding the Concord Summer School of Music between the years of 1927 and 1929, completed February 1975.

Box 1, Folder 2:
Letters written by Thomas Whitney Surette to Mary Walker (later Delafield).  Many letters display Surette’s commitment to his students and friends.  A typed inventory of letters is included in the front of the folder. The letters date from April 1927 through August 1935.

Box 1, Folder 3:
Letters from Mary Walker Delafield to the archivist Joan Harris of the Concord Free Public Library during the donation process (March 1974 through December 1974 and October 1975).  These letters regard Concord Summer School of Music, Thomas Whitney Surette, and many students and participants at the school (including a short biography of fellow student Ramsay Duff).

Box 1, Folder 4:
Excerpts from the diary of Mary Walker (Delafield) written in 1927 and 1928 while a pupil at the Concord Summer School of Music.  She typed these excerpts specifically for the library.

Box 1, Folder 5:
Diary of Mary Walker (Delafield), handwritten in 1931, 1932, and possibly 1934, while she was at the Concord Summer School of Music.  The 1931 portion of the diary includes a frolic program.

Box 1, Folder 6:
List of compositions performed and lectures given at the Concord Summer School of Music, 1915-1934.  Accompanied by a letter apparently sent to all previous pupils by Thomas and Ada Surette.

Box 1, Folder 7:
Syllabus for Conferences on the Teaching of Music, by Augustus T. Zanzig (used by Mary Walker Delafield in teaching; given to her by Zanzig, who originally used it for teaching at the Concord Summer School of Music).

Box 1, Folders 8-9:
Book one of lecture notes on the history of dance, 1500-1850, by Wesley Weyman.  Notes written ca. [1928] and given to the Concord Free Public Library by Kathleen U. Adams, 1981.

Box 1, Folders 10-11:
Book two of lecture notes on the history of dance, 1500-1850, by Weyman, Also written ca. [1928] and given to the Concord Free Public Library by Kathleen U. Adams, 1981.

Box 2, Folder 1:
Includes a letter containing genealogical information and a photograph of the Surette homestead; a seven-page manuscript titled “He Taught Taste before Technique” (Frances M. Pray, 1977—student in 1923, 1927, 1929),  accompanied by a draft letter (Florence M. Pray, student 1915-1920, 1927), and letter from Frances M. Pray to Joan Harris written at time of accession; two articles about Surette and the Concord Summer School of Music written by Edward Yeomans; an article about the school’s last season; several articles about performances by Ralph Kirkpatrick; and a copy of T. W. Surette’s obituary. Thomas Whitney Surette

Box 2, unfoldered:
Two articles written by Thomas Whitney Surette: “Music as a Career” (published September 11, 1924) and “The Amateure Musician” (published October 2, 1924).
Box 3:
A partial membership record, containing student information on cards donated by the estate of G. Wallace Woodworth.  Some cards contain information limited to student’s names and addresses, others contain detailed descriptions, including notes about education, personality, and musical ability.

Box 4, Folder 1:
Photographs of the Concord Summer School of Music from 1928.  These include photographs of: Ramsay Duff, Katherine K. Davis, T. W. Surette, Ernest Kitson, Arthur Landis, Catherine “Kitty” Tattersall (previously Malone), Dick Tattersall, Constance Morse, “Lucille,” and many other unidentified students and visitors.

Box 4, Folder 2:
Photographs of the Concord Summer School of Music from 1932.  These include photographs of: John Woodworth, Russell Cook, G. Wallace (“Woodie”) Woodworth, Mathias Cooper, John Evarts, Al Funch, Elsie Powell, Malcolm Holmes, Ted Green, Mabel Deogan, Eugenia Litelfield, Don Golpitts, TWS, Ada Miles Surette, Margaret Fisher, Arthur Landers, Betty Wood, Challis Walker Calandria (Mary Walker Delafield’s sister), “Pierson,” Betty Brooks, Warren Sturgess, Mary Senior, Ellen Emerson, Kit Uhler, Al Uhler, Marjorie Adams, Margaret Wellman, Billy Mitchell, and many other unidentified students and visitors.

Box 4, Folder 3:
Photographs of the Concord Summer School of Music from 1935.  These include photographs of: G. Wallace (“Woodie”) Woodworth, T. W. Surette, Ada Miles Surette, Ted Lautner, Bruce Simonds, Malcolm Holmes, Mariana Lowell, Ellen Emerson, Bob Delaney, Mary Walker Delafield, and many other unidentified students and visitors.  There are many group photographs in this folder including photos of a frolic and one of folk dancing.

Box 4, Folder 4:
List of students (incomplete) dated 1942.

Box 4, Folder 5:
Several leaves from a book mailed to Katherine Davis by T. W. Surette and a 1921 letter written by Surette to all students.


Series II.  Materials by form, 1846-1981 (bulk 1889-1938):

Subseries II.A. Scrapbooks, 1889-1938:

Box 5, Scrapbook A, 1915-1938
The cover of this scrapbook is black and white; the spine label reads “Concord Summer School of Music.”  This scrapbook focuses primarily on the school and includes many photos (listed in detail below), school programs, student lists, letters, and programs from various performances.  Some items were removed from this scrapbook due to preservation concerns and can be found in Box 5, Folders 1-4.  Not all photos contained in this scrapbook are labeled.

Summary of photographs in Scrapbook A:
1921, Horace Alwyne
1921, Catherine “Kitty” Malone (later Mrs. Tattersall of Toronto)
1918, Boris Saslawsky (composer and student)
1918, Julia Yeomans
1918, Ada Surette
1918, Catherine Malone (later Mrs. Tattersall of Toronto)
1919 (or 1925), Thomas Whitney Surette
1919, Mr. Cranis
1919, Sue Armstrong
1919, Unidentified group at Wayside (with Surettes and Catherine “Kitty” Malone (later Mrs. Tattersall)
1919, Miss C. Heining
1919, Unidentified group of costumed students (most likely at a frolic)
1919, Unidentified group dancing
1923 Professor Nadia Boulanger and students Ursion Sarle [spelling?], Mr. Hardberg, Mile [Mill?] Dieudonné
1924, Thomas and Ada Surette
1924, “McGregor,” “Stern,” Emily Walle, Elizabeth Merriam, Esther Walcott, Esther Wood, Anderson, M. Shane, Nina Babcock, Catherine Malone (later Tattersall)
1926, Nadia Boulanger
1926, “Evie”, Thomas Whitney Surette, Ada Surette, Ernest Kitson, Mrs. Herbert Synnestvear, Ramsey Duff
1926, 3 group photos of: Richard Tattersall, Thomas Whitney Surette, Katherine K. Davis, Catherine (Malone) Tattersall, and Dorothy Buhler
1927, Joe Lautner and Mr. Richard Tattersall
1935, Many photos at Concord Academy.  27 pictures are unidentified.  Several photos are of people in costume as if for an event or play.  One photo lists: Eleanor Shorr, Ada Surette, G. Wallace Woodworth, Thomas Whitney Surette, E. Emerson, and Dorothy Meigs
1936, Malcolm Holmes, Bob Delaney, Ted Green, Alfred Uhler
Pictures of a sculpted head labeled “Bob Delaney.” Modelled by Challis Walker (sister of Mary Walker Delafield)
1936, Victoria Glaser
1937, Thomas Whitney Surette
1937, Multiple photos at Ojai Valley School, mostly unidentified people.  One labeled “Mr. Yeoman” (probably Edward Yeomans)

Box 5, Scrapbook B, 1899-1911:
Cover of this scrapbook is green and inscribed “English Letters, Newspaper Notices, etc.”  Index in front probably added in archive. This scrapbook contains letters to Thomas Whitney Surette from: Hellaire Belloc, H. W. Davis, Edward Elgar, W. H. Hadow, Charles Loeffler, J. L. McLeary, Ernest Newman, T. Tertius Noble, Charles Rowley, May Sinclair, and Hurbert Thompson.  Also includes several articles and compositions by Surette, a few programs, and reviews of lectures given by Surette.  

Box 5, Scrapbook C, 1897-1911:
Cover of this scrapbook is patterned in dark red, blue, and off-white and inscribed “Newspaper Notices of Lectures etc.”  Index in front probably added in archive.  This scrapbook contains newspaper articles by Surette and some on subjects of interest to him.  It also includes many programs for and reviews of his lectures and performances of his compositions.  Several of the articles concern church music.

Box 5, Scrapbook D, 1889-1894:
The dark red scrapbook documents the success of Priscilla: or, The Pilgrim’s Proxy: a comic opera in 2 acts, lyrics written by Henry D. Coolidge; music composed by Thomas W. Surette.  Contains one cabinet card depicting a group of characters from the comic opera.  Scrapbook includes: announcements, newspaper clippings, and programs for the opera as it is performed in different cities.

Box 5, Folder 1:
Contains 18 items removed from a scrapbook (probably A).  Mostly letters, primarily sent to Surette by students in gratitude for their time at the Concord Summer School of Music.  One letter is in French.

Box 5, Folder 2:
Items removed from a scrapbook (probably A) Includes a photographic negative from a page of music made for Kathleen Adams in 1980.  Teaching notes regarding music appreciation and the teaching of music.  Several letters regarding Thomas Whitney Surette’s visit to London.

Box 5, Folder 3:
Includes items removed from a scrapbook (probably A).  Letters of introduction written by prominent figures and institutions for Surette before his trip to Europe.  One “dalliance” written by a pupil and three letters from “Dante” in Northampton, Massachusetts, written ca. 1936.

Box 5, Folder 4:
Includes items removed from a scrapbook (probably A).  The letters and newspaper clippings were cleaned, mended, and preserved in January 1978.  The letters include one from Gustav Holst to T. W. Surette regarding glees and one from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Surette regarding a student.  This folder also contains mounted newspaper clippings and a few programs.

Box 5, Folder 5:
Includes photographs of characters from Priscilla: or, The Pilgrim’s Proxy, on cabinet cards and large cabinet cards
Creators of the cabinet cards include:
Ye Longfellow Gallery in Portland, Maine
Moreno A Lopez in New York
Hardy in Boston, Massachusetts
St. Johns in Hartford, Connecticut


Subseries II.B. Songbooks and scores, 1846-1927 (most undated):

Thomas Whitney SuretteBox 6, Folder 1:
Surette, Thomas W. Portraits: five pieces for the pianoforte New York: Novello Ewer, 1898

Box 6, Folder 2:
Surette, Thomas W. and Henry D. Coolidge. Priscilla: or, The Pilgrims Proxy. [Unbound copy]

Box 6, Unfoldered:
Palestrina, Giovanni Pierluigi da. “Missa Brevis.” Collection of Masses and Vespers. New York: G. Schirmer, 1927.
Surette, Thomas W. and Henry D. Coolidge. Priscilla: or, The Pilgrims Proxy. [Three bound copies]
Surette, Thomas W. “Mss Score, n.d. Madeline’s Arietta from “The Eve of St. Agness” transcribed for violin and piano for AEM [Ada Elizabeth Miles] by TWS piano part,” 1895
Beethoven, Ludwig van, Carl Maria Von Webber, Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Schubert, Franz Abt, Friedrich Wilhelm Kücken, Ferdinand Gumbert, Johann Ludvig Krebs, Alexander Reichardt, Louis Spohr, Heinrich Proch, … Karl Keller. Gems of German Song: Collection of the most Beautiful Vocal Compositions [with accompaniment for the pianoforte] Boston: Oliver Ditson & Co., 1864. (some pages missing)
Music of A.H.N.
Béla, Kéler Berliner Kinder Walzer. Op. 77. for pianoforte
Czerny, C.H. “Bohemian Air.” No 1 in 6 Popular Airs arranged and Fingered for the Piano Forte. Includes some penciled annotations.
Faust, Carl. “Danses und Marsch” Op. 156. Schützen-Marsch for pianoforte
Gung’l, Josef. “Abschied von Petersburg” Op. 108. Waltz for pianoforte
Gung’l, Josef. “Die Hydropathen” 1846 Op. 149. Waltz for pianoforte
Gung’l, Josef. “Die Gräfenberger” Op. 154. Waltz for pianoforte
Gung’l, Josef. “Soldatenlieder-Walzer” Op. 183. Waltz for the pianoforte
Gung’l, Josef. “Mit hundert Atmosphären” Op. 187. Waltz for pianoforte
Gung’l, Josef.  “Debatten Walzer,” Op. 202
Gung’l, Josef. “Huldigung den Münchenern” Marsch 1846 Op. 221 for pianoforte
Knight, J.S. (John Arion waltz : arranged from the celebrated vocal waltz of Vogel) (John Stearns)
Labitzky, Josef. “Leinate’s Klänge” Op. 92. Waltz for pianoforte
Labitzky, Josef. “Hellenen” Op. 202. For pianoforte
Marston, G. W. “Across the Far Blue Hills”
Strauss, Johann. “Autograph Waltzes”
Strauss, Johann. Concordia “Flugschriften” Op. 300 by Johann Strauss. Waltz for pianoforte
Strauss, Johann. “Königs-lieder,” (Royal Songs).  Best Dance Music. Op. 334. Waltz. Contains annotations
Straus, Josef. “Normen” Waltz
Straus, Josef. “Lustschwärmer” Op. 91. Waltz for pianoforte.
Straus, Josef. “Dorfschwalben aus Österreich” ('Village Swallows from Austria'). Op. 164. Waltz for pianoforte
Straus, Josef. Drutsche Grüse Op. 191. Waltz for the pianoforte
Straus, Josef. “Expens-Noten” Op. 194. Waltz for the pianoforte
Straus, Josef. Aquarellen Op. 253. Waltz for the pianoforte
Ziehrer, Carl Michael. Auf hoher See, Op. 66. Waltz for pianoforte
Ziehrer, Carl Michael. “Mamsell Übermuth” Polka Française. Op. 69.

Subseries II.C.  Programs and announcements, 1923-1981 (bulk 1923-1938):

Box 7, Folder 1:
Contains programs spanning the years 1923-1981.  Also contains the announcements for the Concord Summer School of Music for 1928, 1933, 1937, and 1938.  One 1981 program is for an event held at the Concord Free Public Library to honor Thomas Whitney Surette.


Mounted 3 December 2014.    rcwh.

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