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Bornschein music manuscripts

Identifier: MS 2254


The Bornschein music manuscripts consist of a large collection of printed and manuscript music, published and unpublished, composed or arranged between 1897 and 1948 by Franz Carl Bornschein (1879-1948), a member of the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Baltimore. Some pieces were published under a pseudonym, Frank Fairfield, including some songs for which he wrote the words himself. He also arranged or transcribed music by other composers. There are about 390 works in the collection, grouped in five main sections


  • 1897-1951


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

Franz Carl Bornschein was born February 10, 1879. He graduated from Peabody Conservatory of Music in 1902 and joined the faculty, teaching in the preparatory department until 1914, then in the advanced school. He taught violin, violin pedagogy, conducting, harmony, and composition. As a composer he produced choral works (accompanied and unaccompanied) including art songs, anthems, transcriptions of folk songs, cantatas and operettas for children's and adults' voices, an oratorio, and a short opera; pedagogical and other works for instrumental solos and ensembles; and programmatic suites and tone poems for orchestra. He also arranged and transcribed music by other composers. Sometimes he wrote the words for a song as well as the music; some of these were published under his pseudonym, Frank Fairfield. He won a number of prizes for his vocal compositions. The prizes are listed in the pamphlet, Choral Compositions by Franz Bornschein,copies of which are in the collection (Box 10).

In addition to teaching and composing, Bornschein was a music critic. He was the Baltimore correspondent for Musical America from 1905 to 1948, and for a time the music critic for the Baltimore Evening Sun. He also conducted the Baltimore Music Club Chorus, and guest-conducted the Baltimore Symphony and other orchestras, sometimes at the premiere of one of his own works.

In 1907 he married Hazel Knox, a singer, also a member of the Peabody faculty. Many of his works are dedicated to her.

He died June 8, 1948. An obituary notice appears in the summer 1948 edition of The Peabody Notes that is included in the collection (Box 10), and another, from the Baltimore Sun, June 9, 1948, is in the Dielman File in the MdHi Library. Other newspaper articles on Bornschein also appear in this file.

Much of Bornschein's music has a religious or patriotic theme. In addition to his hymns and anthems there is his oratorio, Deodate, or The Apocalypse. His opera Song of Songs is based on biblical sources. Among his cantatas are Independence Bell and The Minute Man among his symphonic poems Ode to the Brave; Symphonic Poem to the Heros of `The Hornet,' and A Cry to Arms.

Other works are folkloric, or simply American in flavor. Examples are his miniature suite Homestead Tunes and related pieces; and his series of tone poems based on American themes: Leif Ericson, Cape Cod Impressions, The Mission Road, and others (see p. 55 of this inventory). His works for chorus not only include settings of poems by American poets such as Walt Whitman (The Mystic Trumpeter, revised and renamed Joy!) and Edgar Allan Poe (The Conqueror Worm), but also songs in dialect like Hay fo' de Hosses and Go `Way Spooks! (Plantation Song), and pieces like The Two Wives (A New England Legend).

Bornschein evidently was intrigued by the Middle and Far East, for he composed Three Persian Tone Poems and also an operetta, The Willow Plate, and a cantata, The Emperor and the Nightingale, based on Chinese legends. His music for children was often based on folk tunes. Mother Goose's Goslings, an operetta, and the miniature suite of the same title for elementary orchestra, is derived from the obvious source. A similar piece, The Gay Troubador, is based on transcriptions of French songs, some of which were also printed as Six French Folksongs.

Like other composers Bornschein frequently revised his own music. Sometimes it was just a matter of rearranging the music for a different group of voices or instruments; at other times it amounted to a completely new use of the thematic material. The development of a work can sometimes be traced through the different versions present in this collection, but most of the manuscript items do not have dates on them so their evolution cannot be confirmed. The second tone poem from Three Persian Tone Poems, originally titled In the Palace Garden but renamed Feast of Roses, seems to have gone through three revisions (449., 453., 457.Ms.); four, if you count the original draft or sketch of the piece, which is probably item 460.Ms. A good example of Bornschein's method of translating a rough symphonic sketch into a complete score is The Earth Sings, items 500.Ms. and 501.Ms. Later minor revisions were incorporated in subsequent copies of the work (502., 503., 504. Ms.).

This collection does not contain a copy of everything that Bornschein ever wrote or arranged. Some pieces are listed in the pamphlet Choral Compositions by Franz Bornschein that are not represented here at all. Others are represented only by negative photostats or an incomplete set of parts. The Enoch Pratt Free Library has a collection of his music, also (supposedly) the Library of Congress and other institutions (see p. 77 of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra program for Nov. 21, 1943). Miss Hazel Skirven, the donor of this collection, has in her possession scrapbooks containing symphony programs, newspaper clippings, etc., which undoubtedly shed light on other aspects of Bornschein's career. But the present collection clearly shows the breadth and richness of Bornschein's musical production, particularly his choral works and the warmly romantic, lushly-colored program music.


47.0 Linear Feet (47 boxes)

Language of Materials



Each manuscript or piece of printed music was assigned a number during cataloging and filed according to the number sequence. The pieces of printed music, originally grouped roughly by publisher, were assigned numbers according to the year of copyright. Most of the manuscript music is not dated, so, after being separated into categories of minor vocal or instrumental pieces and major works, manuscripts were usually numbered according to the order in which they were stacked when donated. Maintaining the original (dis)order of the collection made it easier to identify untitled works and fragments through their association with related items. Where items were seen to belong to the same piece, an effort was made to group them together. There are some blank numbers in the sequence where an item was grouped with another or where no item was assigned that number. The items were also marked either Printed or Ms., to indicate the basic category into which they fall.

The five main sections of the collection are printed choral music (1. - 180. Printed), printed instrumental music (200. - 250. Printed), shorter manuscript choral music (200. - 299.Ms.), shorter manuscript instrumental music (300. - 343.Ms.) and major choral and instrumental music (400. - 564.Ms.). (There are no items numbered 1. - 199.Ms.) For shorter manuscript music, scores and parts for the same piece are usually grouped together and assigned the same number; for longer pieces they are usually given numbers in sequence. Most large sets of orchestral parts for use in performance have been boxed separately for convenience (boxes 30 - 47; see Box List). A few miscellaneous numbered and unnumbered items, also the information slips for all the items in the collection, are filed in Box 10, after 343.Ms.

Each information slip has a partial transcription of the cover and/or title page of the item (sometimes these differed), plus other information, including cross-references and comparisons to related items in the collection. The copyright line, series, and publisher's catalogue number of printed items are transcribed on the slips. The series and publisher's catalogue numbers, and details of the scoring, are not given in the following inventory, which follows a simplified format.

The entries in the inventory include the following information: the number assigned to the item; the title and subtitle (listed without quotation marks, to lessen the visual confusion); the source of the text; the composer or source of the music if it is someone other than Bornschein himself; the copyright date and publisher, or the date of the manuscript (n.d. if none is given); and the vocal setting (S.A.T.B. or whatever) or the combination of instruments specified. For instrumental and large-scale pieces the item is identified as being a score or parts. The number of parts in a set differs depending on the orchestration and on whether it is a set of master sheets for reproduction, in which there is only one copy of each part, or a set prepared for use in performance, with up to eight copies of each string part. If the item is an autograph manuscript or photocopy, this is noted. The number of pages of manuscript items is given except for the shorter vocal pieces, most of which are only a few pages long. Cross-references, if any, are given at the end of the entry.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Hazel C. Skirven, September 1976.

Scope and Contents

The printed choral music, mostly octavo editions of songs set for varying combinations of voices (accompanied and unaccompanied), includes art songs, anthems, transcriptions of folk songs, and cantatas and operattas for children's and adults' choruses. The printed instrumental music is mostly pedagogical in nature; beginning piano and violin pieces, miniature suites for small ensembles or elementary orchestra. The shorter choral manuscript music contains some pieces that were published, sometimes with different settings, and also some fragments and pieces without titles. Then there is a section of manuscripts of short instrumental pieces, but the largest part of the collection (boxes 11-47) consists of major choral and instrumental music, including operatta, cantatas, an oratorio, a short opera, a violin concerto, a quintet, suites, and tone poems for orchestra. For some of these large works the collection contains some or all of the following: a rough draft or sketch of the score, an original or revised score, master sheets, photocopies of the score, and/or parts, and one or two sets of orchestra parts to be used in performance.

The majority of items are in Bornschein's handwriting. In Box 10 of the collection there are some miscellaneous items relating to Bornschein: symphony programs, pages from Musical America, a lecture on the history of theater in Baltimoe,copies of a printed pamphlet "Choral Compositions by Franz Bornschein,"(one copy of which has been annotated by the cataloger to indicate which pieces are in the present collection), etc. Also in Box ten is a file of 3x5 inch slips compiled by the cataloger with information on every item in the collection: title, date(if there is one), comparisons to other arrangements or versions, whether it is an autograph manuscript or photocopy,etc. Transferred to Gallery: original cartoon (undated) by Yardley, titled, "Medicine, Maestro, Please!, Franz Bornschein, Noted Baltimore Composer, Prescribes Music for Physical Ills." Transferred to Graphics: extra copies of pamphlet.

Guide to the Bornschein music manuscripts
Under Revision
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-01-29: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States