Fonds uofa-2638 - Violet Archer fonds

Violet Archer at 10 years old. Violet Archer as a child with mother. Violet Archer age 11 with her parents. Violet Archer Violet Archer with professor,Yale University. Violet Archer with  friends at Yale University Yale Graduation Pose Violet Archer posing in front of New Haven home Violet Archer at the Yale School of Music New Haven June 1948
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Violet Archer fonds

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CA UOFA uofa-2638

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28 m of textual records and other material

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Biographical history

Violet Archer, distinguished composer and teacher, was born Violet Balestreri (Archer is the English translation of the Italian name) in Montreal on April 24, 1913. She studied piano and organ and received a B.Mus. in composition from McGill University in 1936, and studied organ with John Weatherseed at the Royal Canadian College of Organists. Throughout her years in Montreal, Archer was an active soloist, accompanist, and private music teacher as well as a percussionist with the Montreal Women's Symphony under the direction of Ethel Stark. She obtained her B..Mus. and M.Mus degrees in composition from Yale (1948 and '49). Amongst her teachers were Bela Bartok and Paul Hindemith. She was composer-in-residence at North Texas State College (1950-1953), and taught at Cornell University (1952) and the University of Oklahoma (1953-1961) before coming to the University of Alberta (1962-1978). Other professional activities included work on behalf of the Canadian Folk Music Society, the Canadian Association of University Schools of Music, and serving as the Western Canadian representative of the Canadian League of Composers for a number of years. Violet Archer was one of Canada's most significant composers with a catalogue of some 335 works that included compositions for orchestra, choir, organ, and solo piano. Dr. Archer was the recipient of countless honors and awards in recognition of her outstanding achievements. Besides receiving numerous honorary degrees, Archer was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1983; received the Canadian Music Council's Composer of the Year award in 1984; and in 1987 had the Canadian Music Centre Prairie Region library at the University of Calgary named after her. Other honors, among many, included being inducted into the Cultural Hall of Fame in Edmonton, and receiving the Sir Frederick Haultain prize for her contribution to music in 1987. Violet Archer passed away in Ottawa on February 21, 2000 at the age of 86.

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Scope and content

The Violet Archer fonds provide a valuable record of the composing, research, teaching and life experiences of a noted University professor and internationally recognized composer of music. The fonds is unusually complete, with intact records that illustrate both professional and personal facets of her life. Two large series were determined, that of professional and personal papers, and several sub-series delineated within each of these two series. The professional papers form the largest series; sub-series designations within this series are based on the contents of the records, and are often chronological in terms of order within each sub-series. These include student records (Archer as student); teaching records chronicling her years on faculty at North Texas State College, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Alberta; correspondence files; composing records; and reference records. The composition and composing sub-series of records is further organized into performing rights organization records, music publishers contracts and correspondence, conference and workshop records, performances, honors and awards, and original Archer compositions. A significant number of her compositions are represented in these holdings, and provide evidence about the steps involved in creating a piece of music from manuscript beginnings to a final published piece of music. Series two, Violet Archer's personal papers, include extensive correspondence files; particularly significant are the incoming and outgoing correspondence with her younger sister Carolyn. The letters to and from Carolyn document the emotions, struggles, triumphs and challenges she faced as a woman functioning in a male-dominated field and time period. Rounding out the personal records in Series two are other correspondence files, financial records, insurance records, artwork and photographs. The completeness, extent, and condition of the Violet Archer fonds ensures its strong informational and evidential research value.

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Physical condition

Includes ca. 750 sound recordings, 18 videocassettes, 20 items of artwork and 2420 photographs.

Immediate source of acquisition

Violet Archer's records were received at the University of Alberta as a bequest made by Dr. Archer through her will. Compositions housed in her Edmonton home, her Ottawa home, and at the University of Calgary were transferred to the University of Alberta Archives, as well as her extensive archive of textual, sound and photographic documents.


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Record No. 2001-58<br><br>

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