Finding aid for the Music manuscripts of Johann H. Beck

Music manuscripts of Johann H. Beck
Cleveland Public Library
Phone: 216-623-2800
Beck, Johann Heinrich, 1856-1924
Bulk dates:
10 linear feet (18 parts in 20 boxes)
The music manuscripts of Cleveland composer and conductor, Johann H. Beck, as well as letters, clippings, books, notes, and memorabilia.
Special Collections call #: QR.B. M3.1 .B42 1870X
The records are in English and German

Biography of Johann H. Beck

Beck, Johann Heinrich (12 Sept. 1856-26 May 1924), was a noted conductor, composer, teacher, and violinist. Born in Cleveland to Charles and Rebecca (Butler) Beck, he completed his musical education in Europe at the Leipzig Conservatory (1879-82), where he premiered his own String Quartet in C Minor at the Gewandhaus. Returning to Cleveland, he was active in music in the city for many years. Heard frequently in concert as a violinist, he organized the Schubert String Quartet in 1877 and later the Beck String Quartet, which gave frequent concerts during the 1880s. He directed the Detroit Symphony, 1895-96, and appeared with other important orchestras conducting his own works. Together with Emil Ring, he led local orchestras under various names, preluding the formation of the Cleveland Orchestra in 1918. As a composer, Beck produced an unfinished opera, Salammbo (1887- ), and over a dozen orchestral works. The Cleveland Orchestra included his Lara overture in a concert on 18 Dec. 1919 to critical acclaim. His chamber works include various piano pieces, songs, choral pieces, and string quartets. Beck's bust now stands at the entry to the Fine Arts Div. of the Cleveland Public Library, which houses an extensive collection of his manuscripts. Beck married Mary Blanding Fellar of Tiffin, Ohio, in 1890. They had 1 son, Henry J., and a daughter, Hildegarde. Beck was buried in Woodland Cemetery.

Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, "Beck, Johann Heinrich,"

Scope and Content

The music manuscript collection of Johann H. Beck consists of approximately 10 linear feet of materials spanning the years 1870-1924, with the bulk of the material dating from 1875-1890. The collection features the complete manuscripts of Beck's works, which are all unpublished besides the Elegiac song for piano and violin.. The collection also includes letters, clippings, books, notes, and memorabilia from Beck's life while working as a conductor and composer in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. The collection conveys Beck's importance to Cleveland's music history and preserves his legacy as a composer and conductor near the turn of the 20th century.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 18 parts in 20 boxes. It is arranged starting with the musical manuscripts, beginning with Beck's sketches and fragmented manuscripts and ending with his later and more complete works. Boxes 1-12 Part B contain the music manuscripts. Boxes 13-18 Part B contain, in this order: clippings, letters, articles, music journals, concert programs, memorabilia, scrapbooks, notes, and printed books owned by Beck.

Restrictions on Use

This collection is open for research but contains materials that cannot circulate. Please contact the Special Collections Department for details at Cleveland Public Library, Special Collections, 325 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114-1271. (216) 623-2818.

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research but contains materials that cannot circulate. Please contact the Special Collections Department for details at Cleveland Public Library, Special Collections, 325 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114-1271. (216) 623-2818.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


Beck, Johann Heinrich, 1856-1924--Manuscripts.
Beck, Johann Heinrich, 1856-1924--Memorabilia.
Composers--United States--19th century.
Composers--United States--20th century.
Music--Manuscripts--Cleveland composer.
Opera--19th century.
Orchestra music--Scores.
Overtures--Scores and parts.
Piano music--United States--19th century.
Piano music--United States--20th century.
String quartets--Parts.
String quartets--Scores.
String sextets--Scores and parts.
Violin music--Scores.

Preferred Citation

Johann H. Beck Collection of the Special Collections Department of the Cleveland Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Estate of Hildegarde Beck Hill, daughter of Johann H. Beck, to the Cleveland Public Library Fine Arts Department, December, 1970

Processing Information

Processed February 1990, by Deborah Hefling. EAD created November 2012, by Bryan Silver.

Other Finding Aid

Finding aid for the Beck collection located separately in Special Collections. A printed list of contents is included with each box.

Detailed Description of the Music Manuscripts of Johann H. Beck

Box 1
Unfinished orchestra, piano, and violin/piano works, n.d.

Folder A
Sketches, fragments, from all periods of Beck's life. Folder A contains subfolders to store notebooks and tablets of sketches to better preserve them. Sketch book titled "Musik." and meeting announcement on top of folders., n.d.

Folder A1
Larger sketch book (similar to "Musik." sketch book)., n.d.

Folder A2
Loose-leaves and unbound sketch cards., n.d.

Folder A3
"notepad" of staff paper., n.d.

Folder B
Sketches for apparently a late large orchestral work in E ("As a tale that is told"?), and possibly other works., n.d.

Folder C
Piano pieces - probably all pre-Leipzig (pre-October 1879). Includes other sketches, and interesting note by Beck, "What is a critic?" located in Box 2., n.d.

Folder D
Sonate for violin and piano in F, different from the other one in F. Signed J. H. B. on the back. No date. Unfinished., Probably early Beck.

Folder E
3 sonaten for violin and piano, signed John Beck (probably Johann), no dates. 1. F major - unfinished 2. C minor - piano part of finale unfinished 3. C major - piano part missing - violin part unfinished, probably early Beck.

Folder F
Allegro molto moderato for flute and piano, unsigned, undated., Probably early Beck.

Box 2
Unfinished symphony and several songs; overture for small orchestra., c. 1873-1880

Folder A
Op. 1 - First planned as Sindbad symphonie (Sindbad der seemann - symphonie descriptive). Contains: Koenigin Laba's marsh - score, dated October 21-27, 187(3-5?) - torn Adagio - unfinished score, November 7, 1875 Scherzo (first planned as op. 2) - unfinished score, 1877 Grosser Trauer - marsch - unfinished score (one plan of movements in back), 1877

Folder B
Op. 1, no. 2 (op. 1, no. 1 evidently having been given to the whole abandoned Sindbad symphonie) - Grande ouverture, score, December 3, 1875 to March 24, 1876.

Folder C
Op. 2 (no longer the Sindbad scherzo) - Ouverture zu "Romeo & Juliet" - 2 scores, the dated one probably final, (June 6 - September 1, 1876).

Folder D
Op. 3 - was to be 8 songs. 4 are here, no. 4 incomplete, n.d.

Folder E
Op. 4 - was to be two Grande double choruses with accompaniment of a grande orchester (score, barely begun, no texts) - replaced by six tone pictures for voice and orchestra. Cover is here, dated October 2, 1875 to April 21, 1878. No. 1: Elegiac song - here only in published version with piano and violin obligato, published 1877. N.B. THIS MAY BE BECK'S ONLY PUBLISHED WORK. Text, Thomas Moore. No. 2: If "I saw thee weep" became "Aria", "Aria" is here only in unfinished score, none of Byron's text. - February 14, 1877. No. 3: "There be none of beauty's daughters" (Byron), score, November 14, 1876 to May 4, 1877. No. 4: "Remembrance" (wrongly op. 6, no. 4) - 2 fragments. No. 5: Scene and aria - no trace, unless see no. 2. No. 6: Moorish serenade, finished June 1, 1889 - see separately.

Folder F
Eine ouverture fuer kleines orchester - score and parts, August 10 - September 12, 1877.

Folder G
Three quartets for strings, op. 5 (E major, G minor, F major). Scores, some parts. Some movements of nos. 2 & 3 incomplete (detailed within), composed in 1877.

Folder H: Supplemental
Four exercise and composition books, Leipzig 1879-80.

Box 3
String quartet; string sextet., 1879-1886.

Folder (Unmarked)
Copyright form dated April 2, 1984 and correspondence note for copyrighting and potential publishing of the string quartet,, 1984

Folder A
Photocopy of string quartet (score + 9 parts), copied 3/5/84.

Folder A1
Quartet for strings in C minor (planned as Op. 6). Composed Leipzig, November 20, 1879 to November 16, 1880. Also included is a program from Leipzig conservatory concert, 1882. Contains: first draft, with sketches; score of first movement; 2 sets of parts, 2 of which are incomplete. Sources are probably wrong that he composed a string quartet after this. Anyway it was not in this collection., 1879-1882.

Folder B
Photocopies of the C minor quartet and the string sextet, n.d.

Folder Part 2, 1-5
Sextett for strings in D minor. Composed December 28, 1885 to December 23, 1886. Begun as a quartet, sketch here. Also other sketches. 2 scores, the one with finishing date final. One set of parts and incomplete set. Sources are probably wrong that he composed another Sextett. Anyway it was not in this collection. Folders labeled as follows - Part 2, folder 1: Dated full score; Part 2, folder 2: Undated full score; Part 2, folder 3: Another score; Part 2, folder 4: 6 parts; Part 2, folder 5: Another set of parts, looks like they were used in performance, n.d.

Box 4
Overture to "Lara," (poem by Byron) with parts, sketches, etc. Envelope containing two slips of directions, etc. Parts. Unfinished score. Score - at end, October 25, 1885.

Box 5
Libretto for "Salammbo," (unfinished opera) with sketches Contains 5 books. Libretto, by the composer, begun July 1887, music begun June 1888. Libretto is finished. Here are 2 libretto books and 3 music books. See small sketch book labeled "Musik" among misc. sketches in box 1 for other Salammbo sketches - also probably throughout misc. sketches in box 1, 1887-1888

Box 6
Deukalion (music to Bayard Taylor's last poem, for solo quartette, chorus, and grand orchestra): 2 full scores, vocal score, parts. Box order: Sketches; Piano - vocal score; 2 full scores; Portions of other scores; Solo parts, etc.; Chorus parts of 2 choruses; Orchestra parts of 2 choruses. Note: Planned to be expanded into an opera Prince Deukalion (?) with additional text, no dates, but begun by 1887.

Box 7
Skirnismael (projected cycle of 5 tone poems for grosses Orchester - based on the "Aeltere - Edda"): full score, sketches; Freude kuss: 2 scores, parts, sketches. Frei's Sehnsucht - begun December 31, 1887, finished May 27, 1888. Sketches, one incomplete score, one complete score, one incomplete piano score, parts. Skirnir's Reise - exists only as sketches. Werbegesang - exists only as sketches. Verweigerung Gerdas - Skirnir's fluch - exists only as sketches. Der freude kuss (Kiss of Joy) - December 24, 1892 to September 28, 1893. One incomplete score, 2 complete scores, parts, sketches., date range for Skirnismael, 1887-1893.

Folder A
Parts for Frei's Sehnsucht, 1887-1888.

Folder B
Parts for Der freude Kuss, 1892-1893.

Folder C
Score for Frei's Sehnsucht, 1887-1888.

Folder D
Sketches to Skirnir's Reise. Another score for Frei's Sehnsucht (looks incomplete). Notes on single sheet about music, n.d.

Folder E
Der freude Kuss score (complete), 1892-1893.

Folder F
Der freude Kuss score (incomplete), 1892-1893.

Folder G
Der freude Kuss score (complete), 1892-1893.

Box 8
"Wie schoen bist du" for tenor and grand orchestra (no poet given, nor English translation of text. No dates): 2 scores, 1 vocal score; Moorish serenade: 2 scores, 2 vocal scores, 2 sets of parts; Meeresabend: 2 full scores including piano reductions, 2 incomplete vocal scores., n.d., 1889, 1908, respectively.

Folder A
Newspaper inserts (for preservation), n.d.

Folder B
Parts for Meeresabend, n.d.

Folder C
"Wie schoen bist du' for tenor and grand orchestra - no poet given, nor English translation of text. No dates. Two full scores. One vocal score and parts. The first 2 bars are on Beck's bust, which is located in the Fine Arts Department of Cleveland Public Library, n.d.

Folder D
Moorish serenade (Maurisches staendchen) for tenor with small orchestra. Two vocal scores. Two full scores. Two sets of parts. Poem in English, no poet given, dated June 1, 1889.

Folder E
Meeresabend (The sea at evening), for mezzo-soprano or tenor, with orchestra. Poem in German by Moritz Graf Strachwitz, English translation by the composer. Two incomplete vocal scores. Two full scores, containing piano reduction, one dated August 2, 1908 at end, possibly composed 1880's, by one list.

Folder F-K
Parts for "Wie schoen bist du", n.d.

Box 9
Symphonisches scherzo in A. Composed October 28, 1889 to December 18, 1889. Includes 2 scores, (the one in Schirmer envelope dedicated to Brahms probably final) and parts; Scherzo in F (for orchestra). Includes first sketches 1885, composition begun 1894, finished January 1, 1895; other sketches; 2 scores, (the one in Schirmer envelope probably final) and parts. Box order: Full score of scherzo in A; Parts for scherzo in A (in folder); Another score of scherzo in A; Score of Scherzo in F in envelope; Another score of scherzo in F; Parts; Sketches, 1885-1895.

Box 10
Contains about 100 songs and part-songs with piano. Some in folders, others in a bound book labeled "music.", or as separate loose-leaves, music from all periods of Beck's life.

Box 11
Violin pieces; cello pieces, probably late Beck.

Folder A
Envelope with score and parts for "Spanish dances", n.d.

Folder B
Music of other composers, probably in Beck's hand, n.d.

Folder C
Score for string quartet, unsigned, n.d.

Folder D
Violin pieces - unsigned, undated - probably late Beck: 1. Largo con espressione. 2. Bouree. 3. Song of the Mill-stream. 4. Berceuse and Polonaise. 5. All'Ongarese. 6. Three untitled pieces. 7. Untitled piece in G. 8. Musikalisches Ulk (unfinished). Apparently cello pieces - unsigned, undated, apparently untitled - could be all late Beck: 1. Tempo di menuetto. 2. Allegretto ("Allto") in E-flat. 3. Allegro agitato in A minor. 4. Andante in F. 5. Piece in A on back of Andante. 6. Piece in F major. 7. Piece in F minor (unfinished), probably all late Beck.

Folder E
Freeman score - from Nada. Intermezzo, Prayer, Romance, and March for orchestra, n.d.

Folder F
Sketches (miscellaneous) and violin pieces in 2 books for violin 1 and 2, n.d.

Folder G
Parts for Introduzione ed. Allegro, n.d.

Box 12 Part A
Aus meinem Leben (From my life) (Eine tondichtung) (a tone poem): score ("first copy") - dated 1917, final score, parts, and sketches, 1917.

Folder A
"Study sized" score of Aus meinem leben, 1917.

Folder B
Archival records of Beck and Aus meinem leben performance notes from Cleveland Orchestra, 1917.

Folder C
Stamped envelope, 1917.

Folder D-H
Parts for Aus meinem leben folded into newspaper to separate each part. Folder G contains another envelope, 1917.

Box 12 Part B
Four manuscripts of first violin part of Aus meinem leben folded into newspaper Signed and dated full orchestral score for Aus meinem leben Sketches for score (2 separate partly bound books of loose-leaf sketches) Signed, but not dated, first draft of score and unfinished note of leitmotifs?, 1917.

Folder A
Stamped envelope, 1917.

Folder B
2 manuscripts of cello part, 1917.

Folder C
2 manuscripts of viola part, 1917.

Folder D
Stamped envelope for first copy score, 1917.

Box 13
Newspaper clippings, letters, magazine articles. Approximately 55 clippings from newspapers. Approximately 30 letters (hand written and typed). Miscellaneous biographical items from magazines, etc. (on top of folders in a book containing typed diary entries). Folders contain clippings organized by bulk dates:, 1800s-1938.

Folder 1
Newspaper clippings, letters, magazine articles. No date; contains "scrapbook" of clippings, n.d.

Folder 2
Newspaper clippings, letters, magazine articles, 1900-1909.

Folder 3
Newspaper clippings, letters, magazine articles, 1910-1919.

Folder 4
Newspaper clippings, letters, magazine articles, 1920s.

Folder 5
Newspaper clippings, letters, magazine articles, 1937-1938.

Folder 6
Newspaper clippings, letters, magazine articles, n.d.

Folder 7
Newspaper clippings, letters, magazine articles, 1800s.

Box 14
Copies of music journals. Approximately 18 periodicals including: The Courier (folders: 2, 7); The Musician (folders: 3,8); Musical World (folder: 7); Cleveland Town Topics (folders: 9, 11); Ohio Music Teachers Association Pamphlets (folders: 4,5); "Musikalisches Wochenblatt" (in German, about Organ fur Musiker und Musikfreunde) (folders: 1,6); The Cleveland Musician, American Federation of Musicians, 39th Annual Convention (folder: 10); The Dominant: A Journal of Musical Progress (folder: 11), multiple dates.

Box 15
Concert programs. Approximately 100 programs, 1872-1939.

Box 16
Miscellanea: 7 batons, 2 posters, 3 books of diaries, 1 silk handkerchief, 2 "4x6" photographs, 4 photo-engraving plates, 1 diploma from Leipzig Conservatory, 1 folder with press notices and sketches of music with mainly text, multiple dates.

Box 17
Scrapbooks, books of notes, printed books. 2 scrapbooks - large scrapbook about Beck's days as conductor of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, especially the first season in 1900. 1 book of harmony notes, titled "Modern Harmony". 1 book of lecture notes, titled "Symphonie Eroica, op. 55, Ludwig v. Beethoven, Joh. H. Beck". 2 printed books: Die Moderne Musik; Schwarzspanierhaufe. 1 program from the Music Teachers' National Association convention in Cleveland July 5-8, 1892, multiple dates.

Box 18 Part A
Books owned by Mr. Beck: 1 music book with 1 page prospectus of a musical work; 1 notebook of notes of Mr. Beck (approximately 80 pages); Marpurg, F.W., Abhandung von der Fuge (musical examples); Marpurg, F.W., Abhandung von der Fuge (text); Mozart, W.A., Requiem (piano-vocal score); Weber, G., Theory of Musical Composition, V.II. Also contains folder with advertisement for a concert with Beck conducting, multiple dates.

Box 18 Part B
Books owned by Mr. Beck: Weber, G., Theory of Musical Composition, V. I, 1846.