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Philip James Papers


Philip James Papers
James, Philip
Collection number:
LAB 99-21
2.00 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
Mass Media and Culture
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

Philip James was an American composer of over 300 works of choral and orchestral music. He co-founded the New Jersey Orchestra, and in 1929 became the regular conductor of the Bamberger Little Symphony on radio station WOR for nine years. The collection documents his career in music broadcasting.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


The collection is open for research use.

Preferred citation:

Philip James Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Philip James, (1890-1975), American composer of choral and orchestral music, was born on May 17, 1890 in Jersey City, N.J., to a Welsh father and German mother. At an early age, he began piano, violin, and theory lessons, and served as choirboy in several New Jersey churches. He was deeply involved in the liturgy and music of the Episcopal Church and composed his first hymn at the age of ten. From 1904 to 1909 he studied organ with J. Warren Andrews and in 1907 began advanced harmony and counterpoint lessons with Homer Norris. After studying in Europe, he held positions as organist and choirmaster in many well-known New York City churches.

In World War I he served in the Army and was bandmaster at the American Expeditionary Forces Ban. Following the war he completed his music education and co-founded the New Jersey Orchestra, serving as its first conductor. He also became an instructor in 1923 in the newly formed music department at New York University. He was affiliated with New York University for 32 years, first as full professor, then from 1934 to 1955 as chairman of the department, and professor emeritus from 1955 to 1975.

In 1929 James became the regular conductor of the Bamberger Little Symphony over radio station WOR. He conducted the weekly broadcasts for nine years. In 1932 he won first prize of $5,000 in a National Broadcasting Company competition for original symphonic for American musicians with his satirical suite, "Station WGZBX."

During his lifetime he composed over 300 works, including a musical setting for tenor and male voices of the Vachel Lindsay poem, "Gen. William Booth Enters Into Heaven."

His honors include election to the National Institute of Arts and Letters; honorary Fellow of Trinity College of Music, London; and an honorary Doctor of Music degree from New York College of Music. He was president of the Society for Publication of American Music in 1946.

He married his first wife, Millicent Eady James, in 1916. She died in 1945 and he married Helga Boyer in 1952. They had two children, Vivian and Philip. Philip James suffered a heart attack in 1960 which, from then on, severely restricted his professional and social engagements, although he still actively composed music. He died on November 1, 1975, at his home in Southampton, Long Island. He was 85 years old.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Philip James Collection spans the years 1929 to 1960 although the bulk of the material dates from 1929 to 1936. The collection contains correspondence, a catalog of Mr. James' Musical Works, two bound books of program notes from the Bamberger Little Symphony Orchestra radio programs, and 10 volumes of printed sheets of piano-conductors used by Philip James in his Bamberger Little Symphony Orchestra broadcasts.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Philip James Collection was donated to the Library by Helga James in January of 1985.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Karen Fishman, June 1996

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Karen E. King, May 2009.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection is divided into two series:

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Music of Philip James, 1929-1936, and undated (1.50 linear feet)

This series contains, among others, ten volumes of printed sheets of piano-conductors used by James for his Bamberger Little Symphony Orchestra broadcasts. Many of these sheets are annotated with performance-related markings, such as timing, cuts and dynamics. Also included in this series are two volumes of Bamberger Little Symphony Orchestra radio programs under the direction of James, from December 1929 to May 1936, which include the timing of individual pieces and names of soloists. Also listed are additional miscellaneous radio programs that were under the direction of James.

Also included in this series are two catalogs of James' music, A Catalog of the Musical Works of Philip James and A Catalog of the Musical Works of Philip James, Supplement One.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Philip James, Radio (10 items), undated series 1box 1folder 1
Bamberger Little Symphony Orchestra Radio Programs -- Book 1, 1929-1931 1929-1931 series 1box 2folder 1
Bamberger Little Symphony Orchestra Radio Programs -- Book 2, 1932-1936 series 1box 2folder 2
Catalog of the Musical Works of Phillip James and Supplement, undated series 1box 2folder 3
Miscellaneous, undated series 1box 2folder 4

Series 2: Correspondence, 1932-1960 (.50 linear feet)

Correspondence to Philip James is divided into two parts: business and listener. Listener correspondence contains a bound book entitled, "Congratulatory Telegrams and Fan Letters," and a folder of fragile material. The book contains letters and postcards sent to James from listeners throughout the country thanking him for his participation in the Bamberger Little Symphony Orchestra broadcasts, as well as congratulatory letters for his prize-winning compositions. Business correspondence includes communication with Station WOR, NBC, and CBS.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Congratulatory Telegrams and Fan Letters, undated series 2box 2folder 5
Fan Letters and Telegrams - FRAGILE, undated series 2box 2folder 6
Business Correspondence, 1932-1960 series 2box 2folder 7

Related Material

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