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Merrill Ellis Music Collection, 1960-1981 | Music Library

By Maristella Feustle and Nicholas Kanozik

Collection Overview

Title: Merrill Ellis Music Collection, 1960-1981Add to your cart.
ID: 06/067
Primary Creator: Ellis, Merrill (1916-1981)
Extent: 54.0 Boxes
Subjects: Composition (Music)--20th century., University of North Texas. College of Music
Languages: English

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Scope and Contents of the Materials

The collection consists of 54 boxes of performance materials for all of Ellis' works: tapes, cassettes, slides, films, instructions, masters, etc. Also included are tapes of historical importance such as the John Cage Lecture, the Roy Harris Informal Evening, and a tape of Ellis discussing plans for the construction of the current Music Building.

Biographical Note

Merrill Ellis was born on December 9, 1916 in Cleburne, Texas, just south of Fort Worth.  He began his studies at The University of Oklahoma in 1935, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1939, and a Master of Music in 1941, and studied composition privately with Roy Harris, Spencer Norton and Charles Garland. His master’s thesis at OU was entitled An Evaluation of the Oklahoma Federal Music Project. He pursued further graduate studies at the University of Missouri from 1948 to 1951, and continued to study privately with Spencer Norton (1940-1941), Roy Harris (1950-1960) and Darius Milhaud (1957).

Ellis married Willa Naomi Wiggins, who held a BFA in Music Education, and was a private teacher of piano. They had five children, from 1942 to 1953. Ellis taught band and orchestra at Lefors High School, in Lefors, Texas from 1941 to 1943, band and music education at Moberly Junior College in Moberly, Mo. from 1943 to 1946, band, orchestra and choir at Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri from1946 to 1952, orchestra and music education at Christian College in Columbia, Mo. from 1946-1952, and music theory and history at Joplin Junior College in Joplin, Mo. from 1952-1962.

In 1962, Ellis became the director of the Electronic Music Center at North Texas State University, where he taught composition and music theory. The EMC moved to the new Music Building in January of 1979, and he first concerts in the Intermedia Theater were presented 27-28 March 1979.

Ellis died on July 21, 1981. A concert of Martin Mailman’s Mirrors, commissioned by the Merrill Ellis Foundation, was held in the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia (CEMI) on 3 and 4 November 1986.  Mailman said of Ellis:  “Merrill was a valued colleague and friend who was a true pioneer in electronic and multimedia music.  His works express, far more eloquently than any words of mine could, his unique contribution to the music of our time. Indeed, his creative vision was a cornerstone in the establishment of CEMI.  It has been a privilege to have an opportunity to celebrate his memory in this environment that he inspired with his work and spirit.”

Merrill Ellis (1916-1981), founder of the electronic music program at North Texas, was born on December 9, 1916 in Cleburne, Texas, just south of Fort Worth.  He began his studies at The University of Oklahoma in 1935, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1939, and a Master of Music in 1941, and studied composition privately with Roy Harris, Spencer Norton and Charles Garland. His master’s thesis at OU was entitled An Evaluation of the Oklahoma Federal Music Project. He pursued further graduate studies at the University of Missouri from 1948 to 1951, and continued to study privately with Spencer Norton (1940-1941), Roy Harris (1950-1960) and Darius Milhaud (1957).

Ellis married Willa Naomi Wiggins, who held a BFA in Music Education, and was a private teacher of piano, and they had five children. Before joining the music faculty of what is now the University of North Texas, Ellis taught band and orchestra at Lefors High School, in Lefors, Texas from 1941 to 1943, band and music education at Moberly Junior College in Moberly, Mo. from 1943 to 1946, band, orchestra and choir at Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri from1946 to 1952, orchestra and music education at Christian College in Columbia, Mo. from 1946-1952, and music theory and history at Joplin Junior College in Joplin, Mo. from 1952-1962.

In 1962, Ellis became the director of the Electronic Music Center at what was then known as North Texas State University, and also taught music composition and theory. He persuaded Robert Moog, inventor of the synthesizer, to design and build another example of the instrument (the second one ever made) for him and his students to use, and the current, extensive computer music and intermedia program at the University of North Texas is an outgrowth of his early foresight.

Ellis died on July 21, 1981. A concert of Martin Mailman’s Mirrors, commissioned by the Merrill Ellis Foundation, was held in the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia (CEMI) on 3 and 4 November 1986.  Mailman said of Ellis:  “Merrill was a valued colleague and friend who was a true pioneer in electronic and multimedia music.  His works express, far more eloquently than any words of mine could, his unique contribution to the music of our time. Indeed, his creative vision was a cornerstone in the establishment of CEMI.  It has been a privilege to have an opportunity to celebrate his memory in this environment that he inspired with his work and spirit.”

Subject/Index Terms

Administrative Information

Repository: Music Library
Access Restrictions: Access to this collection is provided only by special arrangement. Please contact the Music Library for more information.
Use Restrictions: Reproduction and publication of materials in this collection are subject to the policies of the UNT Music Library. Copyright restrictions may apply.
Physical Access Note: Collection is housed in the UNT Music Library. Advance notice for use is required. Please contact the Music Library for further information.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:


Series 5: Slides and filmsAdd to your cart.
 
Box 1Add to your cart.
 
Item 1: The Choice is OursAdd to your cart.
Performance specifications in container. "Background for Gloria Cross."
Item 2: The Choice is OursAdd to your cart.
Performance specifications in container. "Cross for Gloria. Spot slides."
Item 3: Eyes: Films I and IIAdd to your cart.
3 reels in a slide carousel box.
Box 2Add to your cart.
 
Item 1: EyesAdd to your cart.
"#2. Middle to right."
Item 2: EyesAdd to your cart.
"#3. Middle."
Item 3: EyesAdd to your cart.
"#1. Middle to left."
Box 3Add to your cart.
 
Item 1: Notation Lecture, NTSU Electronic Music CenterAdd to your cart.
Numbered "VI."
Item 2: NostalgiaAdd to your cart.
"(Center) (Pol.)"
Item 3: NostalgiaAdd to your cart.
"Left." Labeled "IV."
Box 4Add to your cart.
 
Item 1: Nostalgia - performance slide tray - rightAdd to your cart.
Labeled "V."
Item 2: Nostalgia score; Dream Fantasy scoreAdd to your cart.
Labeled "VII."
Item 3: Rode - left tray; Sorcerer; Dream Fantasy; MutationsAdd to your cart.
 
Item 4: Rode - right tray; Sorcerer; Dream Fantasy; MutationsAdd to your cart.
"Spot slides."
Box 5Add to your cart.
 
Item 1: The Choice is Ours - Film IAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 9.25-inch reel.
Item 2: The Choice is Ours - Film IIAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 9.25-inch reel.
Item 3: MutationsAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 5-inch reel in mailing container.
Item 4: Things Making ItAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 7-inch reel in mailing container.
Item 5: Celebration, 1980 AugustAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 6: A Dream FantasyAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 7: A Dream Fantasy - Film IIAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 8: Dream of the Rude [sic - Rode] - NewAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 9: Tubas - "A" rollAdd to your cart.
NTSU Electronic Music Center.
Physical Description: 5-inch reel.
Item 10: Tubas - "B" rollAdd to your cart.
NTSU Electronic Music Center
Physical Description: 5-inch reel.
Item 11: VirgoAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 5-inch reel.
Item 12: Space, section I - Roll "A"Add to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 5-inch reel.
Item 13: Space, section I - Roll "B"Add to your cart.
 
Item 14: Space, section III - Roll "A"Add to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 5-inch reel.
Item 15: Space, section III - Roll "B"Add to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 5-inch reel.
Item 16: Space, section II - Roll "A"Add to your cart.
Stacked out of order due to lack of strong container.
Physical Description: 5-inch reel.
Item 17: Space, section II - Roll "B"Add to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 5-inch reel.
Box 6Add to your cart.
 
Item 1: "Fantasy" II, A roll, 1972 MayAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 5-inch reel.
Item 2: "Fantasy" II, B rollAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 5-inch reel in 7-inch film can.
Item 3: MutationsAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 4: Nostalgia, Film IAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 5: Nostalgia, Film II, sequence I, II, IIIAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 6: RodeAdd to your cart.
"Not for performance; has sound on it."
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 7: Rode IIAdd to your cart.

"Use this." "4:10 Gloria."

Includes concert program dated November 29-30, 1982.

Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 8: Rode IIIAdd to your cart.
"Use this."
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 9: Trains - Used to Run LateAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 10: Trumpet - "A" rollAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 5-inch reel in 7-inch film can.
Item 11: Trumpets - A and B rollsAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 12: Trumpets, 1981 AugustAdd to your cart.
Production completed after Ellis' death.
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 13: Tubas, Film I, for performanceAdd to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 14: Tubas - "Used to run late," Film II "for rehearsal, etc."Add to your cart.
 
Physical Description: 7-inch reel.
Item 15: Mutations - A B C rolls - masterAdd to your cart.
Three 4.5-inch reels in large square box.

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