Alfred H. Bartles Papers

Identifier: MSS.MUS.0001

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

This collection primarily consists of correspondence chiefly to and from Alfred H. Bartles, several of his published compositions, music manuscripts of his published and unpublished works, audio recordings, and additional miscellaneous materials.

The main music manuscript collections range from notebooks and corrected copies to finished manuscripts from ca. 1941-2006. The scores are comprised of works composed or arranged by Alfred H. Bartles, and include classical works for large ensemble or solo/chamber ensemble, small- and large-scale vocal works, works for jazz ensemble, lead sheets, and published copies of works.

The audio recording collection chiefly contains reel-to-reels, cassette tapes, and audio compact discs. Many of these are analog and digital transfers from other media. Also included in this area for practical reasons are the few data file discs contained within the collection.

The contents of the correspondence folders date from 1939-2009 (bulk 1951-2006), ranging from both incoming and outgoing letters regarding professional and personal affairs, postcards, negotiations with publishers, royalty receipts, and occasionally written music. Materials are generally in English or German.

Additional items in the collection include event programs and newsletters relevant to the Bartles family, newspaper clippings, teaching notes, personal documents, and photographs.


  • 1874 - 2015
  • Majority of material found within 1952 - 2006

Language of Materials

English, German, and French

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use. This collection may be viewed in the Anne Potter Wilson Music Library at 2400 Blakemore Ave., Nashville, TN 37212.

Biographical Note

Alfred H. Bartles was born in 1930 in Nashville, Tennessee, and was a composer, arranger, cellist, teacher, and jazz pianist. He began his piano studies at an early age and played cornet and euphonium in his high school band. His interest in jazz led him to study with jazz pianist Lennie Tristano, after which he worked as an arranger-pianist for the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He studied with Roy and Johana Harris at the George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, obtained a Bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Mississippi (1953) and a Master’s degree in composition from Ohio University (1954), where he studied with Karl Ahrendt. He studied cello with Claus Adam and Luigi Silva, and went on to play professionally in the St. Louis Symphony, Springfield Symphony, Radio City Music Hall, various Broadway shows and with Mantovani. Bartles moved to New York City in 1954 where he played in jazz clubs in and around the area, and began his long connection with eurythmy, Waldorf education, and anthroposophy. In 1968 he founded the composition program at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival and taught there for several summers throughout the remainder of his life.

In 1969, Bartles received a grant in composition from a private foundation which gave him the opportunity to compose and study the teaching of music in the Waldorf schools of Germany. He spent four years in Europe, where he taught music theory and history as well as directing the chorus at the Schiller International University campuses in Heidelberg and Bönnigheim. In 1973, he returned to the United States to teach at Tennessee Technological University and play principal cello with the Bryan Symphony (Cookeville, Tennessee). He also performed regularly with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

Bartles returned to Germany in 1977 to teach cello at the Stuttgart Musikschule and to teach the music courses at the Eurythmeum. He remained in Germany until mandatory retirement in 1996 and then returned definitively to Nashville where he continued to compose, play cello in regional orchestras and teach cello at Murray State University (Kentucky) and Austin Peay State University (Tennessee). In 1999 he was named “Composer of the Year” by the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Music Teachers. Bartles died of cancer on Dec. 28, 2006.

Alfred H. Bartles Biographical Time Line

Nov. 10, 1930
Born in Nashville to Paul Bartles and Martha Howell Bartles
Father dies from after-effects of poison gas from WWI; Alfred and his mother live with Isabel Howell, Martha’s younger sister who worked as a librarian at Vanderbilt University and the Tennessee State Library
Studies piano with Miss Frank Hollowell, a cousin and organist at First Baptist Church in Nashville
Attends Hillsboro High School, plays cornet and euphonium in the Hillsboro High School Band
Summers 1949, 1950, 1952
Studies with Lennie Tristano, jazz pianist in New York City
Fall 1949
Attends Vanderbilt with the intention of pursuing pre-medical curriculum
Transfers to George Peabody College for Teachers and studies with Roy Harris and Johana Harris
Aug. 1950-Apr. 1952
Called to active duty with Army Reserves (Korean War), plays trombone in the band and serves as arranger-pianist
Transfers to the University of Mississippi and at age 22, begins cello studies using his grandfather’s cello; meets Claus Adam when the New Music Quartet visits the University of Mississippi; meets Martha Jean Smith, piano student from Newton, Mississippi, who would later become his wife; writes a short piece for the New Music Quartet which they performed while there
Summer, 1953
Graduates from University of Mississippi with a B.A. in Music and follows Martha Jean Smith to Ohio University in Athens. Studies composition with Karl Ahrendt; receives assistantship in composition
Summer, 1954
Graduates from Ohio University with a Master of Fine Arts in Composition
Composes Theme in Three for orchestra and a 12-tone piece, Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano
Marries Martha Jean Smith on January 31
Fall, 1954
Alfred and Martha move to New York City; Alfred studies structural hearing at Mannes School of Music with Felix Salzer and cello with Claus Adam; employed as a chief packer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art while awaiting membership in Musicians’ Union Local 802
Introduced to Francis Edmunds, a Rudolf Steiner educator from England; Alfred and Martha join Youth Group that studied books on Steiner. They begin their long connection with eurythmy, Waldorf education, and anthroposophy
Martha begins accompanying and playing for dance classes, including eurythmy classes at the Rudolf Steiner School
December, 1954
Becomes member of musicians’ union in New York City and plays piano in jazz clubs in and around New York City
Summer, 1956
In Aspen, Colorado
Summer, 1957
In Blue Hill, Maine
Plays cello in 13 Broadway shows, Radio City Music Hall, the Little Orchestra Society of New York (Thomas Schermann, conductor), in Mantovani’s orchestra on several tours, the Springfield Symphony, and the St. Louis Symphony
First daughter Isabel is born on August 20
Alfred’s music begins to be published by The Brass Press, Sam Fox Music Publishers, Boosey & Hawkes, MJQ Music Publishers, and Kendor Music Publishers
Seven Easy Pieces for Beginning Cellists is published by Vanilla Music Publishing
Second daughter, Julia is born on November 8
Receives commission from the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, composes Music for Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble
Founds the composition program at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival at the University of the South and returns to teach there many times during the next three decades
Receives grant to study the teaching of music in Waldorf Schools in Germany and to compose
Composes the Piano Sonata, Excalibur for Symphonic Band, Engadine Overture for orchestra, and Lament, Variations & Metamorphosis for woodwind quintet
Begins teaching at Schiller International University (Heidelberg and Bönnigheim campuses); teaches music history and theory as well as conducting the chorus
Completes the composition Excalibur for Band or Young Orchestra
Moves to CookevMIe, Tennessee, to teach music theory and cello at Tennessee Technological University for the next four years. Bartles plays cello with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra; he meets R. Winston, tuba/euphonium professor at Tennessee Technological University, and begins composing tuba music
Composes When Tubas Waltz for R. Winston Morris
Alfred and Martha return to Germany and begin teaching at the Eurythmeum Stuttgart (home to both a school of eurythmy and a professional performing group); Martha is resident pianist and Alfred teaches all the music courses; he composes Ballad for Fluegelhorn and Jazz Ensemble (recorded at the Süddeutscher Rundfunk by Erwin Lehn and performed by Ackvan Rooyen (flugelhornist) and the Jazz Ensemble)
John F. (Del) Sawyer, Director of the Blair Academy, asks Alfred to write a composition for chorus and orchestra for the Nashville Youth Symphony featuring a favorite poem of Valere Blair Potter titled And Well I Shall Be There; it is later performed at the War Memorial in Nashville by the Nashville Youth Symphony and McGavock High School Chorus, conducted by Jay Dawson
Martha successively accepts positions at the Waldorf School, the Stuttgarter Musikschule, and the Stuttgarter Hochschule für Musik; she also accepts a full-time position at the Pädagogische Hochschule Ludwigsburg and continues there until mandatory retirement in 1997
Alfred receives commission from Israeli violinist Yair Kless and writes Lyric Poem for violin and piano; the work premieres in the Liederhalle Stuttgart
Teaches cello at the Stuttgart Music School, and remains there until mandatory retirement in 1996
Composes Duo for Violin and Violoncello for his daughters (Isabel, violin and Julia, cello); the work premieres at the Sewanee Music Festival
Universal Edition publishes the two cello books From the Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach and Leopold Mozart for his Son Wolfgang Amadeus
Bartles’s orchestration of Alban Berg’s Piano Sonate, Op. 1 is premiered by the Berg Foundation as part of the 50- and lOOyear Berg-Berio Fest in Vienna
Adapts the orchestration of Béla Bartók’s First Rhapsody for Violin to make it playable for cello; the work is later premiered in 2003 at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival
Adapts Bartók’s Rumanian Dances for brass quintet
Completes Etudes and Recital Pieces for the Advanced Beginning ‘Cellist, Vol. 1 & 2
Three for Two (cello and bassoon duet) premieres at the Manchester Music Festival (Vermont)
Alfred and Martha move to Nashville; Alfred teaches cello at Murray State University in Kentucky
Alfred teaches at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN; continues to teach privately and compose music; remains active as a free-lance cellist and jazz pianist
Martha accepts position as adjunct Senior Artist Teacher of piano at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University
Named “Composer of the Year” by the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Music Teachers; composes Epidaurus for Brass Ensemble and Percussion
Epidaurus for Brass Ensemble and Percussion premieres at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival
Completes The New When Tubas Waltz for tuba/euphonium ensemble (published by Tuba-Euphonium Press), which premieres in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Arranges Charlie Parker’s Yardbird Suite and Arlen/Parker’s Out of This World for large jazz ensemble which premieres in Nashville; completes Tubossa for Solo Tuba and Symphonic Band which is performed and recorded by Tim Northcut and the Tennessee Technological University Symphony Band
Plays in regional orchestras in Jackson, Tennessee, Paducah, Kentucky, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama
The transcription/arrangement of Bartok’s First Rhapsody for violin/cello premieres at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival (Paul York, cellist)
Dec. 28, 2006
Alfred dies of cancer at his home in Nashville, Tennessee
Jan. 2, 2007
Memorial service held at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee


23.76 Linear Feet (59 boxes)


The Alfred H. Bartles Papers (1874-2015) were donated to the Anne Potter Wilson Music Library from 2008-2015. A native of Tennessee and a former George Peabody College student, Bartles was active in New York, Germany, and Tennessee as a composer, arranger, cellist, pedagogue, and jazz pianist. His varied compositional output illustrates this mixture of influences, and reveals him as one of the first in a generation of composers equally at home in the Classical and jazz genres.


The collection has been arranged into series based on content. Some series are further arranged into subseries.

Music manuscript and printed score collections (Series A-Subseries 1 and Series B) have been categorized into various groups based on instrumental/vocal forces and original vs. arranged works. They are subsequently sorted alphabetically by title. Since the line between jazz works and classical works is often intentionally unclear within Bartles's œuvre, this criterion was ignored within the current arrangement. The musical sketchbooks in Series A-Subseries 2 have been arranged by rough chronology. Numbers listed within all boxes in the collection indicate folder numbers.

Audio recordings (Series C) have been ordered variously by format, by size (in the case of reel-to-reels), and chronologically where possible and/or relevant.

Since the line between personal and professional correspondence is frequently blurred within this collection, all correspondence (Series D) has been divided between family and non-family senders/recipients. Folders are then arranged alphabetically by sender/recipient. No distinction has been made between musical and non-musical subject matter. All correspondence has been arranged chronologically within the folders, with one larger correspondence series (Bartles, Martha Howell) also categorized into incoming/outgoing divisions.

Miscellaneous materials (Series E) have been arranged in a rough order by format, ranging from items holding a direct connection to those with a less direct connection with Bartles. Larger groupings within this series (e.g., event programs, newspaper clippings, photographs) have been subsequently arranged chronologically where possible.

Two oversized items from the collection are held in the Music Library Vault-Oversize box.

The following is an overview list of the contents of the collection: Series A: Musical compositions-Manuscripts Subseries 1: Single works Subsubseries 1: Works for large ensemble Boxes 1-4: Original works (incl. arrangements of own works) Boxes 5-6A: Arrangements and transcriptions Subsubseries 2: Works for solo/chamber ensemble Boxes 7-9: Original works Box 10: Arrangements and transcriptions Subsubseries 3: Vocal works Box 11 Subsubseries 4: Pedagogical works Boxes 12-13 Subseries 2: Sketchbooks Boxes 14-19 Series B: Musical compositions-Published scores Boxes 20-21 Series C: Sound recordings Reel-to-reels Box 22 Cassette tapes/DATs Boxes 23-24 Compact discs/CD-ROMs/Other Box 25-26 Series D: Correspondence Non-Family and Professional Boxes 27-39 Family Boxes 40-47 Series E. Miscellaneous materials Boxes 48-56 Vault Oversize Box

Physical Location

Anne Potter Wilson Music Library Vault

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers and manuscripts of Alfred H. Bartles were given to the Anne Potter Wilson Music Library at Vanderbilt University from 2008-2015 by his wife, Martha S. Bartles, following Alfred’s death in 2006.

Related Materials

Isabel Howell Papers - MSS.0216 (held in Vanderbilt Special Collections)

Herschel Gower Papers - MSS.0176 (held in Vanderbilt Special Collections)

Alfred E. Howell Family Papers, 1842-1935 - AC. NO. 69-026 (held in the Tennessee State Library & Archives)

Isabel Howell Family Papers, 1848-1970 - AC. NO. 92-088 (held in the Tennessee State Library & Archives)

The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University hosted an Alfred H. Bartles Memorial Concert on December 6, 2015 in Turner Recital Hall. The house audio and video recordings of this event are held in the Blair Performance Archive at the Wilson Music Library.

Geographic Locations

United States, Germany

Finding Aid for the Alfred H. Bartles Papers
Jacob Schaub, Holling Smith-Borne, and Brian Entwistle
2010-2015, with June 2016 updates
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Anne Potter Wilson Music Library Repository

2400 Blakemore Ave.
Nashville TN 37212


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