Don and Barbara Gillis Collection, 1932-1977Add to your cart.

By Maristella Feustle

Collection Overview

Title: Don and Barbara Gillis Collection, 1932-1977Add to your cart.
ID: 06/ 002
Primary Creator: Gillis, Don (1912-1978)
Extent: 255.0 Boxes
Arrangement: This collection is arranged in five series: Series 1: Compositions Series 2: Papers Series 3: Reels and Tape Transcripts Series 4: Toscanini: The Man Behind the Legend; The Centennial Series Series 5: University of Georgia accrual July 2016; Series 6: Addition, 2009. Series 6 was processed after Series 5; therefore, they are out of chronological order.
Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The collection consists of Don Gillis' compositions and papers, reel-to-reel recordings of many of his compositions and Gillis' discussing his works, and materials related to the series Toscanini: The Man Behind the Legend, which Gillis produced. Gillis' wife Barbara oversaw the donation of this collection, and was a lifelong advocate of Mr.Gillis' work.

Gillis' compositions represent his career from the early 1930s through the 1970s, and include sacred, secular, symphonic, and chamber works. His papers include correspondence, papers related to various projects, schedules, reviews, radio scripts, and the Men of Music radio project, teaching materials, writings, additional papers concerning his work, biographical materials, and newspaper clippings.

The reel-to-reel recordings, 50 in all, contain recordings of Gillis' works and Gillis' own description of them. Transcripts are included in Series 3 of the finding aid.

The recordings of Toscanini: The Man Behind the Legend and The Centennial Series span the years 1963 through 1967, and with few exceptions, each broadcast is linked individually and available for listening through the UNT Digital Library.

Biographical Note

Born in Cameron, Missouri on June 17, 1912, Don Gillis moved with his family to Texas in 1930. He went on to have some impact on nearly every institution of higher education in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, as well as the University of South Carolina. Gillis studied composition with Don Mixson at Texas Christian University, and then worked as a band director at TCU, a Director of Productions at the WBAP radio station in Fort Worth, a producer for NBC Radio in Chicago, and a producer and script writer for the NBC Symphony Orchestra in New York City, under the direction of Arturo Toscanini.

After the NBC Symphony was disbanded, Gillis played a major role in reconstituting the orchestra as the Symphony of the Air, which participated in a State Department-sponsored tour of Asia. Gillis later served as the vice president of the Interlochen Music Camp in Michigan, and produced the series Toscanini: The Man Behind the Legend for NBC Radio.

Gillis returned to Texas and served as chair of the music department of Southern Methodist University in 1967-68, and as the chair of the arts department and director of instructional media at Dallas Baptist College from 1968 until 1973. In 1973, Gillis took the position of Chair of the Institute of Media Arts at the University of South Carolina, where he remained until his death in 1978.

For a more detailed biography, please visit the article "UNT Music Library Celebrates Don Gillis Centennial."

Subject/Index Terms

Access Information

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 and in remote storage. Advance notice for use is required. Please contact the Music Library for further information.

Reading Room or Duplication Requests

Depending on any access restrictions noted above, you may be able to request items be delivered to our reading room, or that we make reproductions for you. Just click on either the or icons in the listings below to be routed to our request form.

Administrative Information

Repository: Music Library
Accruals: Nine boxes received from the University of Georgia on July 13, 2016.
Acquisition Source: Do​nated to the University of North Texas Music Library by Barbara Gillis after her husband's death in 1978.
Finding Aid Revision History:

The current finding aid is an adaptation and re-working of an earlier version of the UNT Libraries' website. Organization and description of the collection has required the dedicated participation of many alumni and former graduate assistants, including Cynthia Beard, Ludwig Carrasco-Curíntzita, and Anna Perkins Griner.

Series 6 added November 25, 2019.


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