John Watts papers, 1947-1982

Watts, John, 1930-1982


6 linear feet (16 boxes).
Arranged in series: I Correspondence, 1950-1975; II. Grant materials, 1969-1976; III. Teaching materials, 1969-1975; IV. Writings and research, 1953-1976; V. Photographs, 1971; VI. Scores, 1949-1981.
The John Watts papers contain materials spanning the years 1947 to 1981 and cover the professional musical career of the composer, John Watts -- The collection is primarily comprised of scores and includes many of Watts' compositions (both published and unpublished), sketches, and drafts, such as the first piece he performed publicly with the ARP synthesizer, Elegy to Chimney (1972) and his last performed work, Time Coded Woman (1982). Of special note are the "environmental" scores, collages created by Watts and meant to be played intuitively by instrumentalists. Correspondence includes letters between Watts and his friends and colleagues, most notably a selection of letters between Watts and his first wife written during his period of military service. Grant materials contain applications for various federal and private grant programs, not only for personal work, but also on behalf of the Composers Theatre. Watts' teaching materials include class lists, flyers, grades, and other materials pertaining to the Composers Theatre, such as handwritten lecture notes. Writings consist of papers that Watts completed for various publications, as well as research for several of his compositions. With the exception of the correspondence, the collection is lacking in materials of a personal nature.
American composer and synthesizer player John Watts (1930-1982) was well-known for his work with electronic music -- Born in Cleveland, Tennessee, he studied the clarinet as a teenager. Watts received his Bachelors degree in music composition from the University of Tennessee (1949), a Masters in musicology from the University of Colorado (1953) and was enrolled in the doctoral studies program at the University of Illinois, before transferring to Cornell University. Some of his teachers included Cecil Effinger, Roy Harris, John Krueger, Robert Palmer, Burrill Phillips and David Van Vactor. In 1950, Watts entered military service and served for two years as a clarinetist, dance band pianist, and arranger in the 75th and 179th Army Bands, Special Services. He taught briefly at the Army-Navy Music School in Washington, D.C. and married for the first time during this period. In the fall of 1964, Watts founded the Composers Theatre, and, in 1966, he became the president of its parent organization, the Composers and Choreographers Theatre. In 1969, he became a member of the faculty at the New School for Social Research in New York, where he served as the director of the ARP Electronic Music Program and as the Music Workshops coordinator. During this time, Watts met and married choreographer and dancer, Laura Foreman, with whom he would collaborate on many projects. Over the years, Watts produced over 100 compositions in all forms, primarily chamber music and dance scores. He also had an interest in children's theater. Starting in 1969, Watts began to incorporate electronic elements into his compositions, and became an adept ARP synthesizer soloist. His works and performances helped to popularize the electronic synthesizer as a musical instrument.
Collection guide available in repository and on internet.

Related Resources

View this description in WorldCat: