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Frederic Grant Gleason papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Gleason

Scope and Content of the Collection

Musical and literary output of composer Frederic Grant Gleason, along with some personal items and photographs.

Gleason's materials comprise a near-complete snapshot of the musical life of Chicago from the late 1870s to the early 1900s, reflected mainly in his correspondence, his musical works, and his seven series of scrapbooks. Gleason's correspondence files include many letters from prominent European and American composers, as well as conductors, musicians, and music educators. His scrapbooks document through clippings, reviews, brochures, and programs the lively musical culture of Chicago in the late 19th century. His musical works are documented in a wide variety of manuscript formats, being complete scores, arrangements, orchestral parts, fragments, and sketches, so that the researcher may see the complete picture of how his work was composed. Since Gleason also taught composition in Chicago, there are many examples of exercises and lectures that reflect music pedagogical practices at the time.

Smaller series include biographical information about Gleason, some financial records, mementoes, photographs of Gleason as well as his family and musical figures, and a set of printer's engraved plates of one of Gleason's songs.


  • Creation: 1852-1908



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Frederic Grant Gleason papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Frederic Grant Gleason papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Frederic Grant Gleason

Composer, musician, music critic for the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, and director of the Chicago Auditorium concerts.

Frederic Grant Gleason was born in Middleton, Connecticut, on Dec. 18, 1848. He studied composition at Hartford, Connecticut under Dudley Buck, and continued his musical education in Leipzig, Berlin, and London, from 1869 to 1875. After a brief return to Connecticut to be a church organist, Gleason moved to Chicago in 1877 to teach at the Hershey School of Musical Art, and became active in teaching and composition in the city. He was elected President of the Manuscript Society of Chicago in 1896, and was a member of the Manuscript Society of New York since its founding. He was elected President General of the American Patriotic Musical League in 1897, and was a life-long member of the Music Teachers National Association as well as a member of the Illinois Music Teachers Association from 1886 to 1894. He taught at the Chicago Auditorium Conservatory, from about 1891-1903, becoming director for the last three years. He was also music critic of the Chicago Tribune, 1887-1891, contributing articles and reviews to various other musical papers.

Gleason composed operas, cantatas, sacred and secular vocal works, symphonic poems, chamber works, and works for piano and organ. His Auditorium Festival Ode, with words by poet Harriet Monroe, was performed at the opening of the Auditorium Theater in 1889. He also had several of his works performed during the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of first music director Theodore Thomas, also premiered some of his works.

Gleason married vocalist Grace A. Hiltz in 1879, and Mabel Blanche Kennicott in 1887. Gleason died of pneumonia in Chicago on Dec. 6, 1903.


43.5 Linear Feet (38 boxes, 22 oversize boxes, 1 oversize folder)


Composer, musician, music critic for the Chicago Tribune (1887-1891) and other newspapers, and director of Chicago Auditorium concerts. Papers include correspondence, diaries, sketch books, scrapbooks, programs, clippings, literary manuscripts, photographs, and other memorabilia, providing a valuable portrait of Chicago's late-19th-century musical world. Correspondents include Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler, Charles Gounod, Edvard Grieg, Gustav Mahler, Jules Massenet, Johann Strauss, Giuseppe Verdi, and many others.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Correspondence, 1852-1903
Boxes 1-4
Series 2: Biographical/Personal, 1869-1904
Boxes 4-5
Series 3: Works - Textual, 1869-1903
Boxes 6-12
Series 4: Works - Musical, approximately 1864-1903
Boxes 13-31
Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1872-1903
Boxes 32-57
Series 6: Photographs, approximately 1874-1907
Box 58
Series 7: Artifacts, 1889
Box 59

Collection Stack Location

1 20 1-3, 1 30 1, 1 45 1

Other Finding Aids

Article: Peters, Aileen: Analysis of the Frederic Grant Gleason Collection... fV 29 .3372 and 4A 4009 (2 copies).


Gift and purchase, Mrs. Robert F. Perez, Jr., 1963; Gift, Vassar College Library, 1965.

Processed by

Alison Hinderliter, 2008.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the Frederic Grant Gleason papers, 1852-1908
Alison Hinderliter
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States