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William Masselos Collection


William Masselos Collection
Masselos, William
Collection number:
10.00 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
International Piano Archives at Maryland
International Piano Archives, University of Maryland Libraries, College Park, MD 20742, Tel: 301.405.9224, Email:

A performer and music educator, William Masselos (1920-1992) had a very active concert career, including solo recitals, performances with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and numerous other orchestra and chamber music concerts. Masselos also taught music at various universities, including Juilliard and the Catholic University of America, and was a faculty member at many music festivals, including the Aspen Music Festival, the Berkshire Music Festival, and the International Society for Contemporary Music Festival. This collection contains 6.00 linear feet of correspondence, programs, photographs, recordings, scores, articles, and memorabilia related to Masseloss career, the professional organizations and ensembles he was involved with, and his relationships with his close colleagues, including Betty Burnham, Herbert Barrett, and Joseph Lippman.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research use.

Preferred citation:

William Masselos Collection, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Summary: William Masselos was born on August 11, 1920 in Niagara Falls. His main teachers included Carl Friedberg and David Saperton. Masselos made his Town Hall debut at the age of 18. He made his first appearance with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (1952) followed by a long line of appearances with major orchestras, including the Montreal Symphony, the London Philharmonic, and numerous others. Masselos was known as a champion of contemporary music and played first performances of many contemporary concertos and solo pieces by composers such as Aaron Copland, Ben Weber, Charles Ives, and John Cage. He has held teaching positions at Indiana University (Pianist in Residence 1955-56), the Catholic University of America in Washington DC (Ordinary Professor, Pianist in Residence 1965-68), Georgia State University in Atlanta (1972-75), and the Juilliard School in New York. In addition he has served on the artist faculty at major music festivals. William Masselos died on October 23, 1992 in Manhattan.

Full History:William Masselos was born on August 11, 1920 in Niagara Falls to a Dutch mother and a Greek father. Weeks after his birth, the family moved to Colorado Springs, where they remained until Billy was nine, two years after his first public recital. In New York, Billy played for conductor and music educator Frank Damrosch who prescribed a musical education. An educational career of 14 years commenced at the Juilliard School of Music where he studied with Nelly Reuschel and Clara Schumann disciple, Carl Friedberg. Masselos made his Town Hall debut at the age of 18.

On April 5, 1952, Masselos played the Brahms Piano Concerto in D minor in his first appearance with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Dimitri Mitropoulos. This impressive debut was the first in a long line of appearances with major orchestras which also included the New York Philharmonic under Monteux and Bernstein, the Montreal Symphony under Klemperer, the London Philharmonic under Haitink, the American Symphony under Stokowski, the Philadelphia Orchestra under Onnandy, and numerous others.

A momentous occasion in Masselos's career occurred on December 11, 1969, with the presentation of a "marathon recital" at Carnegie Hall. The concert started at 7:00pm and ended at 11:00 pm, beginning with contemporary music, and then regressing through time as the night wore on, ending with the Chopin F minor Concerto led by Max Wilcox. A concert with four intennissions, Washington Post reviewer Harris Goldsmith described the marathon as being "of heavenly length." The reviewer continued:

Until his recent Carnegie Hall triumph, greeted by a chorus of kudos from both critics and audience, Masselos could have been described as dwelling in a self-imposed exile from a fame easily within his reach. As his performance of the Chopin Concerto at the concert's end clearly showed, he could have followed the path of the Cliburns, the Brownings, or the Ashkenazys through the potboilers of Liszt, Tschaikowsky, and Rachmaninoff in order to court public adulation. He has more than enough tone, technique, and flair to have gone that route, and to have come out, indeed at the summit. Only an artistic conscience that would not be denied has kept him to his lonely course as a crusader for the forgotten, the neglected, the strange, and the new. (Jan 11, 1970)

Known as a champion of contemporary music, Masselos has premiered many works including the Charles Ives Piano Sonata No.1, the Piano Fantasy by Aaron Copland, most of the piano literature by Ben Weber, including the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra and the Fantasy (Variations), Op.25. He can also be credited with first perfonnances of concertos by Alan Hovhaness, Johan Franco, Marga Richter, Carlos Surinach, and William Mayer, in addition to solo pieces by John Cage, Dane Rudhyar, Robert Helps, Carlos Chavez, and many others.

Masselos has held teaching positions at Indiana University (Pianist in Residence 1955-56), the Catholic University of America in Washington DC (Pianist in Residence 1965-68, ordinary professor 1975-present [?]), Georgia State University in Atlanta (1972-75), and the Juilliard School in New York (1976-present [?]). In addition he has served on the artists faculty at major music festivals, among them Berkshire Festival Concerts, Tanglewood (1956, 1960, 1965), Coe College Festival (1958 and 1959), International Society for Contemporary Music Festival (Strasbourg, France, 1958), and Aspen Music Festival (1958-59, 1967-75).

Masselos's commercial recordings can be found on the following labels: Columbia Masterworks, CRI, Desto, Dial, Disc, Epic, Heliodor, MGM, Odyssey, Paradox, RCA, and Turnabout.

William Masselos died on October 23, 1992 at his home in Manhattan.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The William Masselos Collection covers the period from 1912 to 1996; the bulk of the materials date from 1953 to 1979, and the collection is 6.00 linear feet. The collection consists of correspondence, programs, photographs, recordings, scores, articles, and memorabilia related to Masseloss work as a performer and music educator, including his performances at Aspen Music Festival and Carnegie Hall, his master classes at Aspen Music Festival and Catholic University of America, and his work as a competition juror.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Masselos himself on July 30th, 1991. Additional materials were donated on January 23rd, 2008, and by Elliott Starks in 2011.

Processing Information

Processed by:

This finding aid was processed by Darren Lael and Ileana Posada under the direction of Neil Ratliff.

Processing note:

An item-level inventory of performance files, scores, recordings, subject files, and correspondence is available upon request. Oversized scores are available in a separate section of the collection.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Elizabeth J. Mason, April 2013.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Performance Files, 1928-1983, and Undated (4.50 Linear Feet)

Here are found programs and reviews related to specific performances by William Masselos. The files are organized chronologically by performance date and span the period March 1, 1928 through October 26, 1983. This series is located in Boxes 1-5.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Colorado Springs, CO, Little Theatre Performances, 1928 series 1box 1folder 1
Colorado Springs, CO, Little Theatre, 1929 series 1box 1folder 2
Unknown Performance, 1937 series 1box 1folder 3
Juilliard School, Alumni Association, 1938 series 1box 1folder 4
Performances, 1939 series 1box 1folder 5
Chappaqua, NY. Horace Greeley School, 1940 series 1box 1folder 6
Performances, 1941 series 1box 1folder 7
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 1942 series 1box 1folder 8
Juilliard Graduate School Student Concerto Series, 1943 series 1box 1folder 9
Omaha, NEBRASKA, 1944 series 1box 1folder 10
Toledo, OH, Toledo Museum of Art -- Chamber Music, 1946 series 1box 1folder 11
New York, Carnegie Hall, 1947 series 1box 1folder 12
Performances, 1948 series 1box 1folder 13
New York, Carnegie Hall Performances, 1949 series 1box 1folder 14
Performances, 1950 series 1box 1folder 15
Performances, 1951 series 1box 1folder 16
New York, Carnegie Hall -- Brahms Concerto No. 1 in D minor -- New York Philharmonic, 1952 series 1box 1folder 17
Performances, 1953 series 1box 1folder 18
Veteran's Auditorium -- San Francisco, CA,, 1954 series 1box 1folder 19
Performances, 1955 series 1box 1folder 20
Performances, 1957 series 1box 1folder 21
Performances, 1958 series 1box 1folder 22
Performances, 1959 series 1box 1folder 23
Performances, 1960 series 1box 1folder 24
Performances, 1961 series 1box 1folder 25
Performances, 1962 series 1box 1folder 26
Performances, 1963 series 1box 1folder 27
Performances, 1965 series 1box 1folder 28
Performances, 1966 series 1box 1folder 29
Performances, 1/5/1967 series 1box 2folder 1
Aspen, CO, Aspen Music Festival, 1967 series 1box 2folder 2
Chicago, IL, Grant Park Concerts, 1967 series 1box 2folder 3
Erie, PA, Memorial Auditorium, 1967 series 1box 2folder 4
Performances, November 1967-December 1967 series 1box 2folder 5
Performances, January 1968-October 1968 series 1box 2folder 6
Performances, November 1968 series 1box 2folder 7
Performances, January 1969-February 1969 series 1box 2folder 8
Baltimore, MD, Lyric Theatre, 4/1969 series 1box 2folder 9
Performances, May 1969-October 1969 series 1box 2folder 10
Oakland Symphony -- Brahms Concerto No.1, 10/1969 series 1box 2folder 11
Seton Hall University, 1969 series 1box 2folder 12
New York, Carnegie Hall -- MARATHON PROGRAM!, 12/1969 series 1box 2folder 13
Performances, 1970 series 1box 3folder 1
Evansville Philharmonic, IN, 1971 series 1box 3folder 2
Phoenix Symphony, Arizona, 1971 series 1box 3folder 3
Performances, February 1971-March 1971 series 1box 3folder 4
New York, Carnegie Hall, 1971 series 1box 3folder 5
Saint-Saens G minor Concerto with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra -- NJ, 1971 series 1box 3folder 6
Washington, DC, Washington Performing Arts Society Constitution Hall, 1971 series 1box 3folder 7
East Hampton, NY -- Home of Mr. and Mrs. David Brockman, 1971 series 1box 3folder 8
Aspen, CO, Aspen Music Festival, 1971 series 1box 3folder 9
Performances, 1971 series 1box 3folder 10
Washington, DC, Library of Congress -- Chamber music appearance, 1972 series 1box 4folder 1
Atlanta Symphony -- Saint-Säens Concerto No.2, 1971 series 1box 4folder 2
Atlanta, Georgia -- Solo recital, 1971 series 1box 4folder 3
Performances, January 1972-March 1972 series 1box 4folder 4
Performances, April 1972-October 1972 series 1box 4folder 5
New York, Carnegie Hall -- Beethoven Concerto No.5 in E flat ("Emperor") with the American Symphony Orchestra, 1972 series 1box 4folder 5
New York, Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center -- Stravinsky Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra with the New York Philharmonic, 1973 series 1box 4folder 6
Performances, 1973 series 1box 4folder 7
Performances, 1974 series 1box 4folder 8
Northwestern University Performances, 1975 series 1box 4folder 9
Performances, 1975 series 1box 4folder 10
Performances, 1976 series 1box 5folder 1
Haverford College, 1977 series 1box 5folder 2
Broward Community College, Fort Lauderdale, Florida -- Florida State Music Teachers Association, 1978 series 1box 5folder 3
Performances, 1979 series 1box 5folder 4
Catholic University -- Performances by members of the Masselos family, 1981 series 1box 5folder 5
New York, The Symphony Space -- "In Memory of William Kapell" -- A benefit concert commemorating the 30th anniversary of Kapell's death, 1983 series 1box 5folder 6
Performances -- February-December, Undated series 1box 5folder 7
Performances, Undated series 1box 5folder 8
Aspen, Co. Aspen Music Festival, 1958 series 1box 14folder 1
Washington, D.C. The Catholic University of America, 1965 series 1box 14folder 2
Performances, 1966 series 1box 14folder 3
Performances, 1967 series 1box 14folder 4
Performances, 1968 series 1box 14folder 5
Performances, March 1969-June 1969 series 1box 14folder 6
Aspen, CO. Aspen Music Festival, 1969 series 1box 14folder 7
Performances, August 1969-October 1969 series 1box 14folder 8
Tucson, AZ -- W/Tucson Symphony Orchestra, 1972 series 1box 14folder 9
Performances, 1974 series 1box 15folder 1
Performances, 1976 series 1box 15folder 2
Tokyo, Japan, 1977 series 1box 15folder 3
The Community Concerts programs, 1978-1989 series 1box 15folder 4
? . Stratford College, 1938 series 1box 15folder 5

Series 2: Correspondence Files, 1942-1992, and Undated (null)

This series, located in Box 6, comprises letters. The collection is organized chronologically by date.

Subseries 2.1: Letters to Masselos, 1954-1992, and Undated

This subseries contains letters to William Masselos, including letters from Charles Ives, Virgil Thomson, and Victor Babin.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Letters to Masselos -- From Charles Ives, 1954series 2.1box 6folder 1
Letters to Masselos, 1971series 2.1box 6folder 2
Letters to Masselos -- From David D. Grimland -- Assistant Director, American Center, 1972series 2.1box 6folder 3
Letters to Masselos, 1972series 2.1box 6folder 4
Letters to Masselos -- From Joseph Hawthorne -- Deluth Symphony Orchestra, 1973series 2.1box 6folder 5
Letters to Masselos -- From Denise Wagner -- Editor, Musical Heritage Society, Undatedseries 2.1box 6folder 6
From Fritz Kreisler -- Chairman of the Board, Hospitalized Veterans Service of the Musicians Emergency Fund, Inc, 1961series 2.1box 6folder 16
From Carlos Moseley -- Managing Director of the New York Philharmonic, 1967series 2.1box 6folder 17
From Victor Babin -- Director of the Cleveland Institute of Music, 1969series 2.1box 6folder 18
Letters to Masselos -- Rosina Lhevinne; Virgil Thompson, 1971series 2.1box 6folder 19
From William F. Thompson -- Cultural Director of the U.S. Cultural Center, Tel Aviv, 1972series 2.1box 6folder 20
From Brent Williams -- Secretary of "The Bohemians" New York Musicians Club, 1974series 2.1box 6folder 21
From Rosemary and Linton H. Flocken, 1975series 2.1box 6folder 22
Letters to WM -- From Homer Hathaway, 1968series 2.1box 16folder 15
Letters to WM, 1967series 2.1box 16folder 16
From Mildred Chase, 1985series 2.1box 16folder 17
From Carol, Undatedseries 2.1box 16folder 18
From The Juilliard School -- Bruce MacCombie, Dean, 1992series 2.1box 16folder 19

Subseries 2.2: Letters to Herbert Barrett, 1972-1973

This subseries contains letters to Herbert Barrett, Masseloss manager, about Masselos, including letters from the New York Philharmonic, Betsy Smith, and the director of the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Letters to Herbert Barrett -- From Y. Kopemik-Dostrovsky -- Director, Rubin Academy of Music, Jerusalem, 1972series 2.2box 6folder 7
Letters to Herbert Barrett -- From Margaret Hohler -- New York Philharmonic, 1972series 2.2box 6folder 8
Letters to Herbert Barrett -- From Betsy Smith -- Assistant to Zubin Mehta, 1973series 2.2box 6folder 9

Subseries 2.3: Letters from Herbert Barrett, 1972-1973

This subseries contains letters from Herbert Barrett about Masselos, including letters to Betsy Smith, various orchestra directors, and public and cultural affairs officers.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Letters from Herbert Barrett, 1973series 2.3box 6folder 10

Subseries 2.4: Miscellaneous Letters, 1942-1988, and Undated

This subseries contains miscellaneous letters pertaining to Masselos, including letters to Masseloss former teacher and letters from managers of various orchestras.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
To Ms. Grace Wilm (WM's former teacher) -- From Anna Molyneaux (National Music League), 1942series 2.4box 6folder 11
To Zubin Mehta -- From William F. Thompson (Cultural Attache, U.S. Embassy), 1972series 2.4box 6folder 12
Miscellaneous Letters, 1973series 2.4box 6folder 13
To Mr. William F. Thompson (Cultural Attache, U.S Cultural Center in Cyprus) -- From A.Z. Propes, 1973series 2.4box 6folder 14
To Joseph Lippman (Herbert Barrett Management) -- From Richard Thomas (Administrative Director, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra), 1973series 2.4box 6folder 15
From WM to Miss Deutsch -- Incomplete, 1968series 2.4box 16folder 20
From WM to Donald and/or Elizabeth (Betty) Burnham, 1966-1988, and Undatedseries 2.4box 16folder 21
Letters concerning the Dunway Grant for WM, 1968series 2.4box 16folder 22
From WM to Rupert Foundation, Undatedseries 2.4box 16folder 23
To and from The White House and Mrs. Burnham, 1970-1979series 2.4box 16folder 24
Miscellaneous Letters -- To Mrs. Burnham -- From Elaine R. Walter, Dean of The Catholic Univ, 1987series 2.4box 16folder 25

Series 3: Photographs, 1932-1970, and Undated (null)

This series contains photographs. The reference number that appears on each photograph reflects an approximate date. Materials are arranged chronologically by date.

Subseries 3.1: Formal Portraits, 1936-1970

This subseries contains formal photographs of Masselos.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Formal Portraits, 1936-1970series 3.1box 6folder 23

Subseries 3.2: Snapshots, 1932-1934

This subseries contains snapshots of Masselos.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Snapshots, 1932-1934series 3.2box 6folder 24

Subseries 3.3: Miscellaneous Photographs, Undated

This subseries contains miscellaneous photographs of Masselos.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Miscellaneous Photographs, Undatedseries 3.3box 6folder 25

Series 4: Subject Files, 1947-1996, and Undated (1.50 Linear Feet)

Here are found various documents relating to William Masselos's personal and professional life. Materials are arranged by subject.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Biographical Articles, 1953, and Undated series 4box 6folder 26
Publicity Materials, Undated series 4box 6folder 27
Curriculum Vitae, Undated series 4box 6folder 28
WM: A selected Discography, Undated series 4box 6folder 29
Recording Publicity, Undated series 4box 7folder 1
Recording Reviews, Undated series 4box 7folder 2
Grammy nomination, Undated series 4box 7folder 3
"Steinway Hall" -- A broadcast of recordings by WM, 1971 series 4box 7folder 4
Interviews with WM, 1971, and Undated series 4box 7folder 5
"The Composer's Workhorse" -- Keynote, 1984 series 4box 7folder 6
"Playing Copland's Piano Music" -- Keyboard Classics, 1981 series 4box 7folder 7
WM as Competition Winner, 1947 series 4box 7folder 8
Master class -- Aspen Music Festival, 1967 series 4box 7folder 9
Piano Workshops, 1968-1974 series 4box 7folder 10
"A Musical Tribute to WM" -- Juilliard School of Music, 1989 series 4box 7folder 11
"Soloists Named by NY Philharmonic", Undated series 4box 7folder 12
WM in Japan, 1977 series 4box 7folder 13
Ford Grant -- Weber Variations, 1959 series 4box 7folder 14
WM as juror, 1980 series 4box 7folder 15
Contract with RCA, Undated series 4box 7folder 16
WM and Roger Sessions, Undated series 4box 7folder 17
Mt. Holyoke, 1972 series 4box 7folder 18
WM as Page-turner, Undated series 4box 7folder 19
Music Festivals -- Aspen Summers, 1967-1973 series 4box 16folder 1
Cyprus Chamber Music Festival, 1972 series 4box 16folder 2
Saratoga, 1973 series 4box 16folder 3
Collected Magazine Articles -- "Reverberations: Interviews with the World's leading Musicians: Aaron Copland", Undated series 4box 16folder 4
Collected Magazine Articles -- "Rubinstein's Alter-Ego" by Carol Montparker -- ? Clavier Magazine, Undated series 4box 16folder 5
Collected Newspaper Articles, 1957-1985 series 4box 16folder 6
Masselos Autographs, Undated series 4box 16folder 7
Reviews of Others, 1970-1987 series 4box 16folder 8
Others' Concert Programs -- Grete Sultan, Pianist -- New York, Carnegie Hall, 1971 series 4box 16folder 9
Others' Concert Programs -- Steven Mayer, Pianist -- New York, Paul Recital Hall, Lincoln Center, 1972 series 4box 16folder 10
Miscellaneous -- Emilie Hahn Obituary, Undated series 4box 16folder 11
Miscellaneous -- Anchor Club Festival of Hope Archdiocesan Society -- To Aid the Mentally Ill, 1968 series 4box 16folder 12
Miscellaneous -- Biennial Convention of the New York Federation of Music Clubs, Inc., 1966 series 4box 16folder 13
Obituary, Undated series 4box 16folder 14
Biographical Material -- Masselos's legal papers, Undated series 4box 16folder 23
Biographical Material -- Masselos's Parents' Legal Papers, Undated series 4box 16folder 24
WM Recordings -- Reviews, Undated series 4box 16folder 25
Workshops and Master classes with WM, 1966-1996 series 4box 16folder 26
Collected Magazine & Newspaper Articles, 1968-1976, and Undated series 4box 16folder 27
Miscellaneous, 1975-1978, and Undated series 4box 16folder 28
Other, Undated series 4box 16folder 29

Series 5: Recordings, 1961-1974 and Undated (null)

This series, found in Box 7, contains 11 12-inch LPs recording the playing of William Masselos as well as other artists.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Recordings -- Contains fifteen recordings, 1961-1974 and Undated series 5box 12folder 1

Series 6: Scores, 1967, and Undated (2.00 Linear Feet)

This series comprises personal music scores of William Masselos, but not composed by Mr. Masselos. A number of scores contain corrections and rehearsal markings of considerable interest. These scores are found in boxes 8-10.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Oversized Scores -- Cage, Copland -- Six Scores, Undated series 6box 8folder 1
Oversized Scores -- Franco, Harrison, Helps, Hovhaness, Ives, Jones -- Thirteen Scores, 1967, and Undated series 6box 9folder 1
Oversized Scores -- Mayer, Richter, Surinach, Vartabed, Weber -- Ten Scores, Undated series 6box 10folder 1
Scores -- Bartok, Copland, Tredici, Hovhaness, Ives, Kurka, Layton, Mayer, Rorem, Satie, Sessions, Weber -- Twenty Scores, Undated series 6box 11folder 1
Additional Scores, Undated series 6box 11folder 2
Brahms: Piano Concerto no. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15, Undated series 6box 11folder 2item 1.0
Supplementary Scores -- Satie -- Two Scores, Undated series 6box 11folder 3

Series 7: Miscellaneous Items, 1912-1961, and Undated (null)

This series, located in box 12, contains several miscellaneous oversized items which belonged to William Masselos. They include five books, two photo albums, several pencil sketches of WM, two award plaques, and two medals.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Books -- Contains five books, Undated series 7box 12folder 1
Photographs -- In Envelope, Undated series 7box 12folder 2
WM's Compositions, Undated series 7box 12folder 3
Portrait -- Pencil Drawing of WM -- By George Rhoads?, ca. 1940 series 7box 12folder 4
Pencil Sketches, ca. 1940 series 7box 12folder 5
Award Plaques, 1967-1972 series 7box 12folder 6
Juilliard School of Music Catalog, 1947-1948 series 7box 12folder 7
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences--Best Classical Performance Certificate--Ives Sonata No. 1 for Piano, 1967 series 7box 12folder 7item 1.0
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences--Best Classical Performance Certificate--Schumann Davidsbundlertanze and Brahms Sonata No. 1, 1972 series 7box 12folder 7item 2.0
Photo Albums -- Contains Two Photo Albums, 1912-1933 series 7box 13folder 1

Related Material

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Separated Material

Folder: Masselos Additional Materials--From Elliott Starks, 2011.