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Gerhard Samuel

Gerhard Samuel Collection

The conductor and composer Gerhard Samuel (1924-2008) was born in Bonn, Germany, and immigrated with the Samuel family to the United States in February 1939. Exhibiting remarkable musical ability from an early age, Samuel received training with Paul Hindemith at Yale and Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood, and studied composition with Howard Hanson at the Eastman School of Music. Following a short time working on Broadway and in France, Samuel rose to prominence in the late 1940s under Antal Doráti and the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra.

The Gerhard Samuel Collection documents his career both as composer and conductor, the latter especially during his tenures with the Oakland Symphony, San Francisco Ballet, Philharmonia Orchestra at the University of Cincinnati, and, as associate conductor, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Minneapolis Symphony. In particular, the collection demonstrates Samuel’s commitment to contemporary music, as with his programming of a great many living composers (many of whom corresponded with Samuel regularly), and his involvement as a founder and musical director with the Cabrillo Music Festival. The Oakland Symphony under Samuel offered the West Coast debut for works by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Terry Riley, Lou Harrison, Darius Milhaud, and many others.

This collection contains original recordings of performances, rehearsals, auditions, and lectures, as well as recordings of Samuel’s own compositions. In addition, the Samuel Collection features archival materials from throughout his life and career, including business and personal correspondence; concert programs, posters and handbills; photographs; publicity, press clippings and scrapbooks; business records; lecture and teaching materials, and Samuel’s entire library of musical scores including original musical manuscripts.

This collection has been processed with generous financial support from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission.


Jerry McBride
Head Librarian, Music Library
Head Librarian, Archive of Recorded Sound
(650) 725-1146