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John Davison Papers: Additions, 1939-1999 HC.Coll.839.1


Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Born May 31, 1930, in Istanbul, Turkey, to American parents, John Davison moved to the United States soon after his birth. He was raised in Auburn, NY, and New York City and "showed an early interest in music, studying piano and theory," (Catherine Nardiello, Pianist). He was educated at Juilliard School's lower school; Haverford College, graduating in 1951; Harvard University, earning his master's degree; and the Eastman School of Music, earning his doctorate in creative composition. Among his teachers were Alfred Swan, Randall Thompson, Walter Piston, Bernard Rogers, Howard Hanson, Alan Hovhaness, and Robert Palmer (Haverford website).

In 1959, after obtaining his doctorate, Davison began teaching at Haverford College as the Ruth Marshall Magill Professor of Music. He continued to teach at Haverford until his death in 1999, and saved his students' compositions throughout this period.

A prolific composer, "Davison's idiom is rooted in the great Western classic-romantic tradition with Baroque, Renaissance, jazz, modernist, and folk elements mixing in at times," (Dram). He wrote for trumpet, trombone, piano, horn, and violin, in addition to less traditional instruments such as koto, cimbalom and bagpipe. His "compositions are published and recorded [and] have won awards and received numerous performances," (Catherine Nardiello, Pianist). Among orchestras playing his compositions have been the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra, the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, the Susquehanna Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra. The Chestnut Brass Company recorded his Brass Quintet on their CD "Pastime with Good Company," and Albany Records issued an all-Davison CD (Haverford website).

In addition to his composing and teaching, Davison also co-authored a book about the songs of Robert Burns with John Ashmead. Davison also kept a sketchbook, where he drew figures occasionally used for concert programs and posters.


Catherine Nardiello, Pianist. Record (Box 118).

DRAM. "Music of John Davison." (accessed October 1, 2009).

Haverford College Music Faculty Website, "In Memoriam" (accessed December 9th, 2009).

These additions to the John Davison collection expand the documentation of his life, both in the personal sphere and in the professional sphere, as a composer and Professor of Music at Haverford College. The collection includes drafts and publications of a selection of his compositions. There are recordings, reviews, and programs from performances of some of Davison's work. Also included are correspondence and personal materials collected by Davison. The collection is divided into two series: "John Davison Materials" and "Materials by Others."

The first series, "John Davison Materials," is divided into four sub-series: "Scores," "Recordings and Electronic Media," "Publications about Music," and "Personal Materials."

The "Scores" sub-series is comprised of drafts, manuscripts, and publications of approximately 45 compositions.

The "Recordings and Electronic Media" sub-series includes recordings of some of John Davison's compositions, as well as copies of computer files of his music. These are in the following formats: records, cassettes, compact discs (CDs), floppy disks, and one zip disk.

The "Publications about Music" sub-series includes concert programs and reviews of John Davison's work, ordered chronologically 1939-2000. Materials from the Contemporary Music Project and from the Robert Burns Project, which John Davison completed with John Ashmead and Shoshona Shay are included. In addition, there is a Catalogue of Works compiled by John Davison for his own compositions.

The "Personal Materials" subseries is comprised of items created and collected by Davison, and include school materials, essays and speeches, awards, and correspondence. His school materials include his diploma from the University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music. His essays and speeches include memoria for Alfred Swan, William Reese, and John Ashmead; descriptions and hopes for the Haverford Music Department; and essays written for courses at the Eastman School of Music. His collected correspondence is ordered chronologically, and spans 1948-1999, and includes both personal and professional correspondence.

The second series, "Materials by Others," includes items produced by friends, family, and colleagues, and collected by John Davison. Within the series are nine sub-series: "Music," "Writings," "Vince Roark," "Guy Davenport," "Student Compositions," "Recordings," "Family," "Photographs," and "Miscellaneous Publications."

The sub-series "Music" contains music composed by colleagues of John Davison's, as well as a number of works by Orlando Gibbons. "Writings" includes essays and poetry by friends and colleagues of John Davison's. Vince Roark's work consists of writings and drawings of geometric sculptures. Guy Davenport's work consists of essays, poetry, and drawings. More of both Roark's and Davenport's work may be found in the "Correspondence" sub-series.

The sub-series "Student Compositions" consists of recordings on reel-to-reel tapes of concerts of student compositions, 1972-1979. The "Recordings" sub-series includes an LP recording of the Haverford Glee Club from 1959, as well as other records.

The "Family" sub-series includes genealogical trees created by John Davison and a collection of writings by Walter S. and Eloise Hollett Davison, John Davison's parents.

The "Photographs" sub-series contains photographs of John Davison's family members before his birth, of his friends and colleagues, and of John Davison himself from birth to adulthood. These include a scrapbook he put together as a young boy, and formal portraits of him as a professor at Haverford College.

"JD" will always stand for "John Davison"

Gift fo Elizabeth Davison.

John Davision Papers: Additions donated to Special Collection, Haverford College, in year

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Elizabeth Peters
Finding Aid Date
April, 2013
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Law applies (U.S. Title 17)

Collection Inventory

Physical Description

44 boxes

Physical Description

9 boxes

Sonatas, Reel.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Sonata: Landscapes, for Tuba, Euphonium, and Piano

Sonata for Horn and Piano (3 copies)

Sonata for Trumpet and Piano (5 copies)

Canzona and Reel/Jig, for four flutes (2 copies)

Trombone Works.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

Quintet for Trombone and String Quartet

Tune and Allegro for Trombone and Piano

Laetum Mysterium for Six Trombones and Organ

Suite for 6 Trombones: 4 Tenor, 2 Bass

Sonata a Quarto for Trombone Quartet

Sonata for 3 Trombones and Piano

Sonatas for Brass.
Box 3
Scope and Contents

Sonata for Trombone or Euphonium, and Tuba and Piano

Trio-Sonata for Trumpet, Trombone, and Piano

Piano Works Vol. 1-3; Organ Works.
Box 4
Scope and Contents

Piano Works Vol. 1: Introduction and Dance for Piano; Sonatina for Piano

Piano Works Vol. 2: Suite for Keyboard; Sonata for Piano in One Movement

Piano Works Vol. 3: Piano Sonata Number 2

Organ Works: Four Genevan Psalms, Passacaglia for Organ, March, Fantasia on "St. Anne"

Piano Works Vol. 4-6; Piano Music I.
Box 5
Scope and Contents

Piano Works Vol. 4: Piano Sonata Number 3 (6 copies)

Piano Works Vol. 5: Winterscape (7 copies)

Piano Works Vol. 6: Kaleidoskopikon (6 copies)

Piano Music I (2 copies)

Various Scores and Manuscripts.
Box 6
Scope and Contents

Introduction and Allegro for string quartet (4 published, many drafts)

This is the Day That the Lord Hath Made

Christmas Day (Orlando Gibbons, arr. John Davison)

String Quartet No. 1 (individual parts for Violin I+II, Viola, Cello, and full score)

3-Viola Concerto (note: Parts and score in Fleischer Library, Philadelphia)

Preludes and Fugues Nos. 3-6 (2 copies)

Kaleidoskopikon (2 copies)

Composition Book

Various Scores and Manuscripts.
Box 7
Scope and Contents

Sonata for Two Clarinets and Piano (Draft and published)


O Emmanuel (sketch)


Lullaby, Allegro, Chorale, and Reel for 2 Horns and String Orchestra (drafts and published)

Various Scores and Manuscripts.
Box 8
Scope and Contents

Sonata for Violin and Piano

Introduction and Jazz Reel

Sinfonia for Cimbalom and Orchestra (2 folders)

Piano Sonata No. 3

Various Scores and Drafts.
Box 9
Scope and Contents

Various Scores and Manuscripts

Arrangements of Orlando Gibbons

Unidentifiable Drafts

Orchestra Movement (Full Score)


Box 10
Scope and Contents

Henry Charles Smith Plays Trombone (2 copies)

A Concert of Sacred Music, Hope College Chapel Choir

Cassette 11-15
Scope and Contents

July 2, 1998 – Working Copy


Sextet for English Horn, Piano, and strings (2 cassettes)

Nittany Valley Symphony 9/26/89

Trio-Sonata; Sextet for Winds and Piano

CD Recordings.
Disk 16-19
Scope and Contents

Organ Music of John Davison and Hubert Parry: Tom Leich, Organ

John Davison, Second String Quartet: Tim Fain, Violin; Cyrus Beroukhim, Violin; Dov Scheindlin, Viola; Arash Amini, Cello

John Davison, Sonata for Horn and Piano, Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano, Sonata for Trumpet and Piano, Pieces from Piano Music (2 copies)

Floppy Disks.
Box 20
Scope and Contents

Mail and News Disk

Professional Composer (program file)

Orchestra Piece – Back-up

Professor Davison's Work – Back-up

"John 1" Backup disk 10/9/94

"John 2" Backup disk 10/9/94

"John 3" Backup disk 10/9/94

Cello Concerto


Sarah, Ashmead Song Gibbons, Brass Quintet, Trumpet Sonata, Flute Quartet II, Sax Sonata, Tuba Sonata, etc (1991-92)

Tuba, Scots, Attoona Quartet, Recorder…, 3 Trombone, Love and Liberty, Professional Composer, Sax Intro and Allegro, etc

Jonas Back-up

Davidson: Confidential Letterman (?), Composer, Sonata II, Sonata III

John's Work I (from Quadra comp.) A-F1/30/95

John's Work II (from Quadra) G-T 1/30/95

John's Work III (from Quadra) T-Z 1/30/95

Zip Disk.
Box 21
Scope and Contents

All of John Davison's computer files, 1999

Programs 1939-1959.
Box 22
Programs 1960-1970.
Box 23
Programs 1971-1982.
Box 24
Programs 1983-1991.
Box 25
Programs 1992-1994.
Box 26
Programs 1995-2000.
Box 27
Reviews; Memorials and Obituaries.
Box 28

The reviews are organized in chronological order.

Box 29
Scope and Contents

Catalogues of Publications

Catalogues of works

Kansas City residency materials

Contemporary Music Project.
Box 30
Box 31
Scope and Contents

The materials in this file are in the form of copies from sourcebooks and two microfilms.

Publicity and Reviews.
Box 31
Scope and Contents

Publicity fliers


CD index and order form

John Ashmead Obituaries and Biographies

"Love and Liberty".
Box 32
Scope and Contents

"Love and Liberty" was a song cycle, a smaller portion of the Robert Burns Project, published separately.

In this file are drafts, manuscripts, and the final publication.

Drafts and Manuscripts.
Box 33
Final Publication.
Box 34
Concert DVD.
Box 34
Scope and Contents

A DVD rendering of the original videocassette recording of a concert, given by Shoshana Shay in 1991, of John Davison's and John Ashmead's Love Songs of Robert Burns.

School Notebooks.
Box 35
Grades, Awards, Diploma.
Box 36
Scope and Contents

Report cards

Academic Awards

Deerfield Academy and Haverford College graduation programs

Rochester Diploma

Yearbooks and Directories.
Box 37
Scope and Contents

Yearbooks from Deerfield Academy 1947, Haverford College 1951

Alumni Directories from Deerfield Academy, Eastman School of Music

Box 38
Scope and Contents

Published Writings



Box 39
Scope and Contents

Program Notes

Teaching materials


Interview by Pamela Horst


Pins and Awards.
Box 40
Scope and Contents




Boy Scouts of America

Collegiate School Craftsman award

Scholarship award, junior school, Collegiate School, 1940

Box 41
Scope and Contents

c.135 items

John Davison's friends, colleagues, and students write about music, life events, and business. Donald Frothingham and his fiancée, Ann van Alstyne, write to invide JD to perform at their wedding. Hollett 'Holl' Davison writes of her surprise at finding JD in a list of famous composers. Robert Gallaway, a student, writes thanking JD for his practice of asking students for individual meetings, instead of waiting for students to request them. John Greppin sends a letter asking if JD will be the godfather of his newborn daughter, Sarah Cleland Coutts Greppin.

Other Correspondents: Bobbi Ash; Marleigh M. Baratz; Hugh Borton; Dave L. Burrows; William 'Bill' Cadbury, Jr.; Claude Calova; Aldo Caselli; Joseph B. Dallett; Guy Davenport; Carlotta Davison; Louise Davison; Eloise Hollett Davison; Joseph Dibble; Sophie H. Drinker; Jacky Duvalé; William 'Bill' Erblard; Daniel F.; Clifford G. Pollock, Minister, First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia; Giorgio Gaggia; Helyn von Gardner; Henrietta Gilden; Judith Schmidt, Rights and Permissions, Grove Press, Inc.; William H.; Ernest Hankamer; Roger Hannay; David Hemmingway; Bin Holland; Katharine 'Kitty' Hoover; Christopher Kauffman; Anthony 'Tony' Kooiker; Theodore 'Ted' Kopf; Leo Kraft; Eleanor Leek; Jean Lunn; Margaret Massey-Stewart; Alexander McCurdy; Elizabeth 'Betty' Menino; Serge Naggar; Eve Newland; Robert Palmer; Albert Pike; Walter Piston; Gregory Plain; Clifford G. Pollock; Jane R. Rahel; William 'Bill' Reese; Harrison, Marilyn, Steven, and Robert Roper; Samuel R. Rosenbaum; Elliott Schwartz; Roger Herriman, Serious Music and Musical Education Department, Southern Music Publishing Co. Inc.; Holly Stoehr; Robert Suderberg; Alfred Swan; Peter Gram Swing; Gloria Swischer; Katharine E. Taylor; Randall Thompson; Noel Waterman; Morris Henken, WFLN Philadelphia; C. Dunn Williams; Donald Wilson; Stanley Wolfe; Steven Wolin

Box 42
Scope and Contents

c.175 items

John Davison recieved numerous letters from friends, family, and colleagues. Notable among these are Paul Salstrom and Peter N. Kiger, two pacifists in prison who send JD a Christmas letter. Leo Kraft writes to inform JD that his "Psalm 100" was selected by the National Associasion for American Composers and Conductors for performance. Gordon Adams, Guy Davenport, Joseph Dibble, and Noel Waterman write most prolifically.

Other correspondents: Beth R. Sundquist, Arlington Civic Symphony Association; George Becker; Miriam Bellamy; Robert Cavanaugh; Louise Chambers; Boutlas Costas; Dean Cummings; Harold C. Sproul, Director, Cummington School of the Arts; Hollett 'Holl' Davison; Louise Davison; Eloise Hollett Davison; Roderic Davison; Paul and Rosemary Desjardin; Henry Drinker; Jacky Duvalé; Paul Earls; Vincent Persichetti, Elkan-Vogel Co.; Janice Eppes; Dave Fetter; J. Fetter; Carter Fisher; Steven Fisher; Giorgio Gaggia; Scott Gillam; Robert Goodale; John Greppin; Mrs. Daniel Hahn; Ellen 'Ellie' Halpern; John Hamilton; Ernest Hankamer; David Hemmingway; Ernest Hagen, Music Director and Conductor, Festival Symphony Orchestra, Jackson Hole Fine Arts Foundation; Christopher Kauffman; Winifred Keane; Anthony 'Tony' Kooiker; Theodore 'Ted' Kopf; Jean Lunn; Margaret Massey-Stewart; John McConaghy; Nancy Lee Milner; Alex Milyka; Phil Raikes; William 'Bill' Reese; Don Reinfeld; George Rhodes; Sol Schoenbach; Elliot Schwartz; Robert Suderburg; Alfred 'Alia' Swan; Gloria Swischer; Richard Teitelbaum; Winifred Turner; John Wigent; John Wilkins; Don Wilson; John Word; R.W. Welpott, Executive Vice President and General Manager, WRCV-TV

Box 43

c.100 items

John Davison's friends and family write casually, and others write regarding his compositions. Gordon Adams, Guy Davenport, Eloise Hollett Davison, John Greppin, and Noel Waterman write most frequently.

Other correspondents: Laurie Adams; Jay Anderson; George Becker, Jr.; Terry Belanger; Sandy Blachly; Hugh Borton; Frank Boyden, Headmaster, Deerfield Academy; David J. Challis (Haverford class of 1963); Lt. Boutlas Constantine Costas; Hollett Davison; Roderic Davison; Jacky Duvalé; Giorgio Gaggia; Richard Grossman; Ellen 'Ellie' Halpern; Howard Hanson; Jeffrey Hauser; Ernest Hagen, Jackson Hole Fine Arts Foundation; Owen Jander; Christopher Kauffman; Winifred Keane; Anthony 'Tony' Kooiker; Theodore 'Ted' Kopf; Jerome Landsman; John Henry 'Jack' Liesveld, Jr. (Haverford class of 1963); Margaret Massey-Stewart; Bernard Fitzgerald, Project Director, Music Educators National Conference; Frederic Narciso; Robert Palmer; David Parker; John Pierce; George Ridenour; Jane Robbins; Edgar Smith 'Ted' Rose; S.S.A.; Edward 'Ned' Snyder; George Steiner; Alfred Swan; Randall Thompson; Jay Van Buen; Richard Vernon; Louis Vyner; Alan Williamson; Donald Wilson

Highlights include:

Belanger, Terry. 12/5. Christmas letter and card, including poem written by Terry Belanger about Christmastime.

Challis, David J. 2/17. About creating a series of programs and lectures at Johnstown College using the work of Haverford professors. This could include a group of Haverford and Bryn Mawr music students coming to give a performance, or John Davison coming to perform some of his own piano compositions.


c.25 items

While the letters in this file span from 1948-1979, all letters from 1962-1964 are in their own respective files. In 1948, the headmaster of Deerfield Academy, Frank L. Boyden, writes to John Davison's father, Walter S. Davison, congratulating JD on achieving first in his class at Haverford. The other letters are mostly casual correspondence from friends and family.


1948: Frank L. Boyden; Eloise Hollett Davison

1952: 'Bun'; Pvt. David Burrows; Theodore 'Ted' Kopf; Alberto V. Lanaldes; Ludwig Mestler; G. Wallace Woodworth

1953: Louise Erickson; Edward 'Ted' Handy

1955: Henry Eisner; André LaMorte

1956: Holmes, Marie, and Pearl Coleman

1957: Henry Eisner; Joel Mandelbaum

1967: Laura E. Randall

1968: Joan Gaines, Director of Public Relations, Music Educators National Conference

1975: Roderic Davison

1979: Jonathan Lutz


c.30 items

Many write to John Davison about performances and publications of his compositions. In addition, W. Phillips Davison sends a set of writings he found while cleaning out their uncle Herbert Davison's attic. Roderic Davison sends a newspaper article about his experiences during World War II. Hollett Davison sends a letter that JD had written to Kay Davison in 1947, on the occasion of Hollett's birth.


1980: Sy Branders

1981: W. Phillips Davison; Roderic Davison

1982: Hollett Davison

1983: Edward Arian; Harry and Elizabeth Hewitt

1984: Giorgio Gaggia

1988: Bert Seager

1989: Elizabeth Bullard; Amy Camus; Richard Evans; David Fetter; David Katz; Barry Kilpatrick; Karl MacKenzie; Joel Mandelbaum; Joseph Primavera; Robert Thayer Sataloff; Ken Simpson; Rheta Smith; Bennett Zon


c.30 items

The majority of the letters in this file are casual correspondence from friends and family. Others write about John Davison's or their own musical compositions.


(Undated): Marietta Chang; Germandy Vavilov

1990: David Allan Plaine, President, Advertising Associates, Inc.; Committee for the Robert Palmer 75th Birthday Retrospective Concert; Guy Davenport; W. Phillips Davison

1991: Kimberly Beamon; Roderic Davison; David Lesniaski; Laurence Wyman

1992: Mark Hartman; Laurence Wyman

1993: Raffaello 'Ray' Orlando; Bruce Partridge; Harrison 'Harry' Roper; John 'Jack' Wheatcroft

1994: Gordon Adams; Richard Conant; John 'Jack' Wheatcroft

1995: W. Phillips Davison; Sarah Davison; Joel Mandelbaum

1996: Donald dal Maso; John 'Jack' Wheatcroft

1997: John 'Jack' Wheatcroft

1998: Stéphane de Messières (Haverford class of 2001); Margaret Massey-Stewart; Robert McBride

1999: Michael Johns; Richard Teitelbaum

2000: Christopher Nicholson, Director of Alumni Relations, Collegiate School

From John Davison.
Box 44
To Elizabeth Davison.
Box 44
Bills and Contracts.
Box 44

Box 45
Scope and Contents

Orlando Gibbons

Carlotta Davison

John Dowland

Orlandus Lassus

William J. Gatens

Box 45
Scope and Contents

John 'Jack' Wheatcroft: Poem about John Davison

Daniel Graves: "Singing Out of the Silence: A Survey of Quaker Choral Music"

Esther Greenleaf Mürer: "Quakerism and the Arts"

James Freeman: "Schoenberg, Berg, Webern and the Disciples in Perspective"

Sarah Davison: Poems

Vince Roark.
Box 45 Box 45
Scope and Contents

Photographs, newspaper clippings, and correspondence with Vince Roark about his work, which consists mostly of geometric drawings and sculptures.

Guy Davenport.
Box 45
Scope and Contents


Collected writings by friends

Student Compositions and Performances.
Reel 46-54
Scope and Contents

Student Compositions 1978 or 79

Student Compositions Spring 1974

Student Compositions Concert, Parents' Day, October 5, 1974

Student Compositions Concert, October 13, 1973

Student Compositions Concert, Spring 1972

Senior Composition Collection, 1972

Student Compositions Concert, Parents' Day, October 7, 1972

Chris Rub, Saxophone

Perelandra – Original

Box 55-56
Scope and Contents

Haverford Glee Club 1959

Charles Pettaway, Russian Piano Music

Box 57
Scope and Contents

Family trees, compiled and drawn by John Davison through his own research

Writings by Walter S. and Eloise Hollett Davison.
Box 57
Scope and Contents

Letters and other writings by Walter S. Davison and Eloise Hollett Davison, John Davison's parents

Box 58
Box 58
Box 58-59
Box 60
Miscellaneous Publications.
Box 61
Scope and Contents

'51 Feedback: Haverford Class of 1951 reunion souvenir booklet

"The Spirit and the Intellect: Haverford College, 1833-1983"

Haverford Alumni Magazine: Fall 1998, Fall 1994, Summer 1993

"The Henry Drinker Fund at Haverford College"

Haverford Horizons: 1973, 1978

Kenneth Leighton, brochure

Guidebook from Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Guidebook from the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia

Deerfield Academy Alumni Magazine: Spring 1999

William Bacon Evans: "Sonnets for Lovers and for Lovers of Sonnets"

Society News

The Key Reporter: Winter 1999-2000

Haverford College Student Directory 1998-1999

Cancer Treatment Information

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