Special Collections of the ODU Libraries

John Duffy Papers, 1951-2012, undated | Music Special Collections

By Klaira Batten and Jessica Mirasol

Collection Overview

Title: John Duffy Papers, 1951-2012, undated

ID: 00.1/DCR MG 15

Primary Creator: Duffy, John, 1926-2015

Extent: 20.0 Linear Feet

Arrangement: The collection is organized into eight series: Series I: Scores; Series II: Sketchbooks, Exercises, Journals and Reference Materials; Series III: Publicity, Programs and Legal; Series IV: Composers' Institute; Series V: Education, Speeches and Awards; Series VI: Contacts, Travel, Correspondence and Personal Interest; Series VII: Recordings; and Series VIII: Photographs.

Date Acquired: 01/24/2011

Subjects: Music--United States--20th century, Orchestral music--Virginia

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection contains scores, sketchbooks, programs, recordings and other material collected and produced by composer John Duffy.

Biographical Note

John Duffy, considered "one of the great heroes of American music," has composed more than 300 works for symphony orchestra, opera, theater, television and film. He has received many awards for his contributions to music: two Emmys, an ASCAP award for special recognition in film and television music, a New York State Governor's Art Award, and the (New York City) Mayor's Award of Honor for Arts and Culture. He is also the recipient of the American Music Center's Founders' Award for Lifetime Achievement. As founder and president of Meet the Composer, an organization dedicated to the creation, performance, and recording of music by American composers, he initiated countless landmark programs to advance American music and to aid American composers.

John Duffy grew up in the Bronx, one of fourteen children of Irish immigrant parents. As a young man, he studied composition with noted composers Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, Luigi Dallapiccola, Solomon Rosowsky and Herbert Zipper concurrently with his career and early successes in the theater. He credits Rosowsky for insisting uncompromisingly on learning the craft of music and developing the discipline and patience necessary to the art.

His profound regard for language, its beauties and its powers, suited him ideally for his work in theater, television and film. He acquired a reputation early on as a first-class interpreter of ideas and emotion, a brilliant orchestrator, and a sensitive colleague.

Duffy's appointment, in his twenties, to the post of music director, composer and conductor of Shakespeare under the Stars, was the first in a succession of similar posts at the Guthrie Theater, the Long Wharf Theatre, and the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, and for NBC and ABC television in New York City. The culmination was his landmark music for the production of Macbeth at John Houseman's American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut.

He composed some of his notable theater scores for Broadway and Off-Broadway productions of The Ginger Man, Macbird, Mother Courage, Playboy of the Western World, and many Shakespeare plays, including his memorable collaboration with John Houseman.

Duffy also has composed distinguished concert music for a variety of commissions, among them: A Time for Remembrance (cantata for soprano, speaker and orchestra), commissioned by the U.S. Government to mark the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor; Symphony No. 1: Utah, commissioned by the Sierra Club to draw attention to preserving and protecting public lands in southern Utah; Freedom Overture, commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall; Concerto for Stan Getz and Concert Band; and the Emmy Award-winning score for the nine-hour PBS documentary, narrated by Abba Eban, "Heritage and the Jews."

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Tribune call his music, "haunting, memorable, and brilliant." Recordings of his music appear on the CBS, Albany, L.A. TheatreWorks, and Koss labels. His most recent opera, Black Water, libretto by Joyce Carol Oates, premiered in Philadelphia in 2001, followed by performances in Los Angeles, Lincoln Center and Cooper Union Hall in New York City, as well as performances in Maine. Mark Swed, chief music critic for the L.A. Times, says, "…at some point the listener no longer feels like a bemused bystander, watching yet another episode of a Washington soap opera, and becomes caught up in a real opera of universal tragedy. The ending is devastating – an excellent tonic for the nightly news."

Duffy has been featured on the television programs, CBS Sunday Morning and ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. He died at the age of 89 on December 22, 2015 in Norfolk, Virginia after a prolonged battle with cancer.

Subject/Index Terms

Music--United States--20th century
Orchestral music--Virginia

Administrative Information

Repository: Music Special Collections

Access Restrictions: Open to researchers without restrictions.

Use Restrictions: Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Acquisition Source: John Duffy

Acquisition Method: Gift

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Box [insert number], Folder [insert number and title], John Duffy Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Old Dominion University Libraries.

Processing Information: Materials were processed by Brian Rinaldo, Klaira Batten, and Jessica Mirasol in 2011-2012.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series I: Scores, 2007, undated],
[Series II: Sketchbooks, Exercises, Journals and Reference Materials, 1988-2011, undated],
[Series III: Publicity, Programs and Legal, 1951-2012, undated],
[Series IV: Composers' Institute, 2008-2011, undated],
[Series V: Education, Speeches and Awards, 1979-2012, undated],
[Series VI: Contacts, Travel, Correspondence and Personal Interest, 1960-2011, undated],
[Series VII: Recordings, 1956-2010, undated],
[Series VIII: Photographs, undated],
[All]

Series I: Scores, 2007, undated
Musical pieces created and collected by John Duffy; includes rough drafts, featuring hand notation, as well as final copies of finished scores suitable for conducting. Many of the pieces also have sheet music.
Box 1
Folder 1: A Time of Rememberance, undated
Folder 2: A Time for Rememberance, undated
Folder 3: A Time For Rememberance: A Peace Cantata, undated
Folder 4: Blackwater, undated
Folder 5: Blackwater, undated
Folder 6: Blackwater, undated
Box 2
Folder 1: Blackwater, undated
Folder 2: Blackwater, undated
Folder 3: Blackwater, undated
Box 3
Folder 1: Children's Suite for Violin and Viola, undated
Folder 2: Clarinet Concerto, undated
Folder 3: Clarinet Concerto, undated
Box 4
Folder 1: Concerto for Jazz Artist and Concert Band, undated
Folder 2: Concerto for Saxophone and Concert Band, undated
Folder 3: Concerto for Saxophone, String Quartet, and Double Bass, undated
Box 5
Folder 1: Eve of Adam: An Opera for Young Musicians, undated
Folder 2: Everyman Go Go, undated
Folder 3: Fanfare for Shipbuilders and Pride of Virginia, undated
Folder 4: Freedom Overture, undated
Box 6
Folder 1: Hamlet, undated
Folder 2: Indian Spirits, undated
Folder 3: Indian Spirits, undated
Folder 4: Interdependence, undated
Also contains electronic copy of score on cd-rom.
Folder 5: Interdependence, undated
Box 7
Folder 1: Joyful Noise: Wedding Music for Meg and Chris, undated
Folder 2: Midsummer Night's Dream, undated
Folder 3: Mohammad Ali, undated
Folder 4: Mohammad Ali, undated
Box 8
Folder 1: Mohammad Ali, undated
Folder 2: Mohammad Ali, undated
Folder 3: Mohammad Ali, undated
Folder 4: Mohammad Ali, undated
Box 9
Folder 1: Nocturna, undated
Folder 2: Ode to Maine, undated
Folder 3: Poets of Love and Protest: Dramatic Oratories, undated
Folder 4: Preludes and Dance Canzoina, undated
Folder 5: Ready, Set, Go, undated
Folder 6: Richard II, undated
Folder 7: Sword and Lyre, undated
Box 10
Folder 1: Sword and Lyre, undated
Folder 2: Sword and Lyre, undated
Box 11
Folder 1: Symphony No. 1 Utah, undated
Folder 2: Taming of the Shrew, undated
Folder 3: Testament: For Chorus and Concert Band, undated
Folder 4: Pastoral, undated
Folder 5: Job Corp Film, undated
Folder 6: Falstaff, Henry VIII Part II, undated
Box 12
Folder 1: Thanksgiving Hymn and Fuguing Tune for Orchestra, undated
Folder 2: The Final Battle for Love, undated
Folder 3: Three Jewish Portraits for Chamber Orchestra, undated
Folder 4: Toccata and Fugue for Piccolo and Percussion, undated
Folder 5: Two Jewish Dances, undated
Folder 7: Unity for Chorus and Orchestra, undated
Folder 8: Variations for French Horn, Violin, Viola, and Cello, undated
Folder 9: We Want Mark Twain, undated
Folder 6: Two Portraits for Piano: of People and Places in Utah, undated
Box 13
Folder 1: We Want Mark Twain, undated
Folder 2: We Want Mark Twain, undated
Folder 3: We Want Mark Twain, undated
Box 14
Folder 1: Antiquity of Freedom for Chorus and Narrator, undated
Folder 2: Blackwater, undated
Folder 3: Blackwater, undated
Folder 4: Blackwater, undated
Folder 5: Blackwater, undated
Folder 6: Blackwater, undated
Box 15
Folder 1: Concerto for Saxophone and Concert Band, undated
Folder 2: Concerto for Saxophone and Piano, undated
Folder 3: Concerto for Saxophone, String Quartet, and Double Bass, undated
Folder 4: Concerto for Saxophone, String Quartet, and Double Bass, undated
Folder 5: Declaration for Interdependence, undated
Box 16
Folder 1: Before the World Was Made, undated
Folder 2: Enough Is Enough, undated
Folder 3: Heritage Suite, undated
Folder 4: Heritage Suite, undated
Folder 5: Heritage Suite, undated
Folder 6: Heritage Suite, undated
Folder 7: Heritage Suite, undated
Folder 8: I Love You, Goodbye, undated
Folder 9: Love Me To Sleep, undated
Folder 10: My Life Alone, undated
Folder 11: My Song is My Spirit Together With Yours, undated
Folder 12: Poverty Doesn't Pay, undated
Folder 13: Play Some More, undated
Folder 14: Style (Doin Its Easy), undated
Folder 15: Testament, undated
Folder 16: The Cat and the Sea: A Ballet for Young Dances and Students, undated
Folder 17: The Ouselcock, undated
Folder 18: Time Changes, undated
Folder 19: Variations for Violin, Viola, and Cello, undated
Folder 20: We Want Mark Twain, undated
Folder 21: We Will Be Different, undated
Folder 22: CD-ROM Scores, 2007 October 30
John Duffy composistions as of October 30, 2007 in Sibelius PDF form.
Box 17
Oversize Folder 1: Heritage Suite, Part I, undated
Oversize Folder 2: Heritage: Fanfare and Chorals (Vellum), undated
Oversize Folder 3: Heritage Suite, Part II, undated
Box 18
Oversize Folder 1: Heritage Suite, undated
Also contains pdf score on cd-rom.
Oversize Folder 2: Heritage Suite, undated
Folder 1: Scores Dedicated to Duffy, undated

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Scores, 2007, undated],
[Series II: Sketchbooks, Exercises, Journals and Reference Materials, 1988-2011, undated],
[Series III: Publicity, Programs and Legal, 1951-2012, undated],
[Series IV: Composers' Institute, 2008-2011, undated],
[Series V: Education, Speeches and Awards, 1979-2012, undated],
[Series VI: Contacts, Travel, Correspondence and Personal Interest, 1960-2011, undated],
[Series VII: Recordings, 1956-2010, undated],
[Series VIII: Photographs, undated],
[All]

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