Charles Faulkner Bryan collection
Scope and Contents
The collection reflects Bryan's career as a composer, folklore collector, performer, and teacher. The collection includes correspondence, biographical and financial papers, newspaper clippings, programs, teaching notes, folk music and folklore collections, professional publications, composition scores and scripts, posters, photographs, and recordings.
- 1790 - 1956
- Bryan, Charles Faulkner (Person)
50 Cubic Feet (100 Boxes)
Language of Materials
The papers and tapes of Charles Faulkner Bryan. Bryan was born on July 26, 1911, near McMinnville, Tennessee. His music education began at the age of ten when he started studying piano. In 1934 he graduated from the Nashville Conservatory School of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree. In 1935 Bryan was appointed director of the Tennessee Polytechnic Institute's Music Department in Cookeville, Tennessee. While in Cookeville, Bryan began an extensive study of folk music with his wife, Edith Hillis Bryan. Together they wrote and produced the operetta "Rebel Academy". Bryan's many compositions ("White Spiritual Symphony", "Singin' Billy", "The Bell Witch", "Florida Aflame") earned him a national reputation as a composer, recitalist, and authority on folk music. He is accredited with one hundred and twenty-two works. He had also acquired a collection of dulcimers, folk music and folklore. This collection reflects Bryan's career as a composer, folklore collector, performer and teacher as well as his personal life. The collection includes correspondence, biographical and financial papers, newspaper clippings, programs, teaching notes, folk music and folklore collections, professional publications, composition scores and notes, scripts, posters, photographs and recordings.
In 1939 Bryan accepted a teaching fellowship at George Peabody College for Teachers to teach choral music at the Peabody Demonstration School. In 1940 he received his Master of Arts degree in music education from Peabody. For his thesis Bryan submitted the White Spiritual Symphony. This was the first time an original musical composition had ever been used as a thesis at Peabody. In 1940 Bryan was appointed to direct the state music project of the Work Projects Administration. In 1941 he was placed in charge of the state programs of music, education, art, writers, recreation, and library projects. He was promoted to supervisor of these projects for the southeastern region in 1942. From 1942 to 1944 Bryan served as the Regional Consultant for Civilian Defense; in 1944 he returned to Tennessee as the Assistant State Director of Civilian Defense. Bryan's work in music was not neglected during his years of government service. In 1942 his White Spiritual Symphony was performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Eugene Goosens.
Bryan received the Guggeheim Fellowship in Music in 1945, but he decided to postpone the award for one year to further his education. From 1945 to 1946 he studied composition under the famous composer Paul Hindemith at Yale University. The resulting work of the Guggeheim award was the folk cantata, The Bell Witch, which premiered in April 1947 at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Robert Shaw. American Folk Music, a textbook written with George Pullen Jackson, was published in 1947.
In the fall of 1947 Bryan began teaching at George Peabody College for Teachers. While at Peabody he directed five summer operas and the high school choral music programs, gave folk music lectures and concerts, worked in high school music festivals, and became an active member of the Tennessee Folklore Society. In 1950 Bryan and Brainerd Cheney collaborated in writing the musical, Strangers in this World. In 1950 Bryan received a Carnegie Grant, which in 1952 resulted in the completion of his folk opera, Singin' Billy, written with Donald Davidson. This opera was one of his most important works.
In the summer of 1952 Bryan wrote and recorded the music for Florida Aflame, a musical about the Seminole Indians. In the fall, he left Peabody to accept the position of music master at Indian Springs School for Boys in Alabama. During the summer of 1954 Bryan and his wife made a trip to Europe, where he investigated the origin of the dulcimer. On July 7, 1955, Bryan died of a heart attack at the age of 43. During his career Bryan achieved a national reputation as a composer, recitalist, and authority on folk music. Bryan is accredited with one hundred twenty-two works, including fifty-five choral, ten instrumental, eight choral and instrumental, forty-one vocal solos, and eight essays. He also acquired a collection of dulcimers, folk music, and folklore.
Bryan married to Edith Inez Hillis on December 21, 1935. He and his wife had two children: Betty Lynn, born on March 17, 1941, and Charles, Jr., born on December 10, 1946.
- Dulcimer music Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Folk music Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Folklore Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Charles Faulkner Bryan collection
- In Progress
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
Part of the Tennessee Tech University Special Collections Repository
1100 North Peachtree Avenue
PO Box 5066
Cookeville Tennessee 38505 United States