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Alice Esty papers

 Collection
Identifier: MC038

Scope and Content Note

The papers include original and photo-reproduced manuscripts of unpublished musical compositions for solo voice and piano by several major composers of the twentieth century, including Francis Poulenc, Virgil Thomson, Ned Rorem, Darius Milhaud, Germaine Tailleferre, Paul Bowles, Claire Brook, Henri Sauguet, and Ben Weber. Many of these compositions represent collaborative efforts between musicians and poets, including Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, e.e. cummings, and Guillaume Apollinaire, and some include Esty's performance annotations. The collection also includes Esty's correspondence with various luminaries of the avant-garde art world, including those composers from whom she commissioned works and others, such as William Matthews, Arthur Gold, and Robert Fizdale; programs for and reviews of her performances; and a few of her watercolors.

There are also the transcripts of Thomas Parkman Cushing's letters and diaries, the originals of which are presumed lost. Cushing (1787-1854), an affluent and important shipping merchant in Boston during the mid-nineteenth century, was the founder of Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts and the father of Martha Ann who married the first William Esty, the grandfather of Alice Esty's husband. He was a diligent and prolific chronicler, and between 1831 to1852 recorded in remarkable and minute detail information about the comings and goings of ships from Boston harbor and of notable people from his townhouse on Beacon Hill. The collection also contains transcripts of Martha Ann Cushing Esty's diaries from 1870-1882.

Dates

  • 1814-1999, undated

Access Restrictions

Some original letters in the Correspondence series are restricted and cannot be consulted without the permission of the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Reference photocopies have been substituted in the main files for research purposes.

While Alice Esty commissioned both composers and writers for many of the scores included in the collection, the copyright of these materials is retained by the composers and the writers, and is not owned by Bates College. Some of these works remain unpublished and, therefore, under the Copyright Law (U.S. Code, Title 17), particularly Section 107, which allows for "fair use" of a copyrighted work, may be given more protection by the courts than published materials. Permission to publish must be obtained by the researcher from the artists themselves or the artists' estates. In addition to publication rights, other exclusive rights, including the right to perform any of the music in public and the right to record music represented in the scores, is retained by the composers and the writers. Bates College does not own and cannot grant these rights. For letters in the collection, copyright and literary rights are owned by the author of the letter or by that author's estate.

Use Restrictions

The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.

Historical Note

Alice Theresa Hildagard Swanson was born on November 8, 1904. She graduated from Bates College in 1925 with an A.B. degree. She then moved to New York to pursue a career in the performing arts. She studied singing, worked as a model for the Art Students League, and worked as an actress with the newly formed Group Theater, under the direction of Lee Strasberg and Harold Clurman, and with the Provincetown Players, an avant-garde theater. She performed on Broadway in such productions as Come of Age, with Judith Anderson, and L'Aiglon, with Ethel Barrymore.

In the mid-1930s, Alice Swanson married William C. Esty, founder of the William Esty Advertising Agency.

Alice Esty continued her interest in the arts, and she began to commission works by many noted composers, poets, and visual artists. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, she spent considerable time in Paris, where she befriended many important composers and artists. Between 1955 and 1969, she regularly commissioned musical compositions, and then performed them in major recital halls, including Town Hall and Carnegie Hall. In 1994 and 1995, Mrs. Esty donated the scores for twenty-six of these commissioned works to the college, including ten compositions which were commissioned as an homage to Francis Poulenc and performed by Alice Esty at a Carnegie Hall recital in 1964.

A long-time patron of the arts and her alma mater, Alice Esty received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Bates College in 1984. She died on July 21, 2000.

Extent

8.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The papers of soprano Alice Esty include original and photo-reproduced manuscripts of unpublished musical compositions for solo voice and piano by several major composers of the twentieth century, including Francis Poulenc, Virgil Thomson, Ned Rorem, Darius Milhaud, Germaine Tailleferre, Paul Bowles, Claire Brook, Henri Sauguet, and Ben Weber. Many of these compositions represent collaborative efforts between musicians and poets, including Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, e.e. cummings, and Guillaume Apollinaire, and some include Esty's performance annotations. Related correspondence is also included, as are letters with close friends and other composers such as William Matthews, Arthur Gold, and Robert Fizdale. Also included are the transcripts of Thomas Parkman Cushing's letters and diaries, the originals of which are presumed lost. Cushing (1787-1854), an affluent and important shipping merchant in Boston during the mid-nineteenth century, was the founder of Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts.

Organization and Arrangement

Organized into six series: I. Scores, II. Correspondence, III. Programs, IV. Printed materials, V. Personal items, VI. Thomas Parkman Cushing papers.

Acquisition and Custody Information

Gift of Alice Esty (Bates 1925), 1993, 1994, 2000, 2001. Accession No.: xx-016.

Processing Information

Partial arrangement and description by Kurt Kuss, Special Collections Librarian, 1997.

Final arrangement and description by Peter Marsters, 2008
Title
Guide to the Alice Esty papers, 1600-1999, undated
Status
Edited Full Draft
Author
Peter Marsters
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in: English
Edition statement
©2011

Repository Details

Part of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library Repository

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