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Irene Herrmann Paul Bowles music collection

Identifier: MSS 0487

Scope and Contents

The Irene Herrmann Paul Bowles music collection spans the dates 1935–2002, and consists of music manuscripts, published sheet music, and sound recordings related to the American composer and writer Paul Bowles, as collected by Irene Herrmann, the executor of his musical estate. The collection was acquired from Irene Herrmann, the executor of Paul Bowles's musical estate, and closely complements music materials found in the Paul Bowles Papers, Supplement 1999, which was obtained directly from Bowles.

Series I. Music by Paul Bowles—Manuscripts comprises music composed by Paul Bowles. The series is organized alphabetically by title, and primarily consists of music manuscripts in Paul Bowles's hand. Many of the music manuscripts are copies of originals located elsewhere. There are also a number of original autograph music manuscripts, drafts, and fragments in the hand of Paul Bowles, many with extensive autograph corrections. For example, see F27, Yerma, which was an opera written for Bowles's friend Libby Holman; F11-F12, Music for a Farce; and F29, Manuscript Fragments. Also included in the collection are two different manuscripts of Music for the Chorus, Oedipus the King, both in Bowles's hand, one of which is bound in gilt-stamped leather boards. Music for the Chorus, Oedipus the King was one of several scores Bowles wrote to accompany theatrical productions at the American School in Tangier. Additionally, the series includes a composition book with autograph music in Paul Bowles's hand for "Testa Dell' Efebo," lyrics by Tennessee Williams, and "San Sebastino di Sodoma" F15.

Series II. Music by others includes sheet music by Peggy Glanville-Hicks, M. Martinez Chumillas, and Paul Baserman. The Baserman manuscript consists of a musical composition, "A Quarreling Pair," with lyrics by Jane Bowles, accompanied by a letter from Baserman to Paul Bowles.

Series III. Ephemera includes, among other items, a 1959 letter of introduction from the Moroccan government written on Bowles's behalf when he was traveling in Morocco to make field recordings of Moroccan music for the Library of Congress as well as artwork by Kristians Tonny, an early acquaintance of Bowles.

Series IV. Sound recordings contains 88 reel-to-reel tapes, 26 audio cassettes, two 78 rpm records, and 29 compact discs. More than 50 of the reel-to-reel tapes include Moroccan music. These tapes are from the field recordings Bowles made of Moroccan folk music for the Library of Congress, 1959–1962. The tape box covers include detailed contents notes in Paul Bowles's hand. Also included are random recordings Bowles made from the radio, street sounds, festive events such as weddings, and other sources.

The series also includes Subseries IV.C. Paul Bowles sound archive, which consists of 23 compact discs of music, performances, and interviews related to Paul Bowles and his music. The collection was compiled by Bowles's musical executor Irene Herrmann, and contains a broad selection of Bowles's music, including piano and voice songs, theatre music, excerpts from the opera Yerma, many rare recordings, and original broadcast recordings and interviews from the British Broadcasting Company, National Public Radio, Radio France, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, and WNYC Radio, New York City.


  • Creation: 1935-2002


Language of Materials

Materials in English and French.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Paul Bowles

Until the publication of The Sheltering Sky in 1949, the American author Paul Bowles was probably better known for his musical career as a composer and critic than for his writing. Bowles has written of his interest in music as a child, but it was his introduction to the composer Aaron Copland in 1929 that marked the true beginning of his music career. Copland became his teacher and Bowles traveled extensively in Europe with him, meeting literary figures such as Ezra Pound, Jean Cocteau, Christopher Isherwood, and Gertrude Stein. It was Stein, in fact, who advised Bowles to visit Tangier, and he first traveled to Morocco, with Copland, in 1931.

Virgil Thomson also had a profound influence upon Bowles's music career. In 1936, Thomson helped Bowles obtain his first major theatrical commission, the score for the John Houseman/Orson Welles production of Horse Eats Hat (1936). Bowles worked on other plays under the auspices of Houseman's Group Theatre and went on to become one of the most successful composers of American theater music, writing scores for plays by William Saroyan, Tennessee Williams, and other dramatists. Bowles also wrote orchestration for ballets, notably Yankee Clipper and Pastorela for Lincoln Kirstein's American Ballet Caravan. Tennessee Williams and Bowles became close friends and Bowles wrote the music for some of Williams's greatest plays, including The Glass Menagerie, Summer and Smoke, Sweet Bird of Youth, and The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. Bowles also collaborated with Williams on a number of songs. In 1942, Virgil Thomson arranged for Bowles to be hired as the music critic for The New York Herald Tribune. Bowles held this position for nearly four years and wrote over four hundred articles and reviews for the Herald Tribune before he resigned in February 1946.

Another significant musical relationship for Bowles was his friendship with the Australian composer Peggy Glanville-Hicks. She lived in America from 1942 to 1959 and, in 1948, followed Bowles in the position of music critic for The New York Herald Tribune. Glanville-Hicks composed three songs set to poems written by Bowles for her piece Ballade (1949). Another of her compositions, Letters from Morocco, used text from Bowles's letters to her, and was premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in a 1953 performance conducted by Leopold Stokowski. The 1999 supplement to the Paul Bowles papers includes a substantial group of letters from Glanville-Hicks which documents their close friendship.

Paul Bowles had a lifelong fascination with the indigenous music of other cultures, intensified by his travels in Latin America and North Africa, and later the Far East. Characterizing his work in theater, film, and ballet as "functional music," Bowles said that he found the "primitive" music of South American and African cultures satisfying to his philosophical and emotional interests in composition. In 1959, Bowles received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to record the indigenous music of Morocco for the Library of Congress. For the next two years, he spent much of his time traveling through Morocco recording music performed by native musicians in small towns and villages. His tapes were subsequently sent to the Library of Congress's Music Division and in 1972 a selection of the music Bowles recorded was issued in a two-volume LP record set.

By the late-1960s, Paul Bowles's energies were directed more towards his writing, and less frequently towards music. Interest in his music began to wane in the 1970s and his work as a composer was largely forgotten. During the 1980s however, there was a resurgence of interest in Bowles as a new generation of composers, musicians, and musicologists discovered his music. In 1984, Peter Garland published a collection of Bowles's Selected Songs, and a number of well-received recordings featuring Bowles's music have been released over the past two decades. His music has also been performed in concerts, including major concerts in Paris (1994) and New York (1995), both of which Bowles attended as the guest of honor. A festschrift, Paul Bowles's Music (Eos Music Inc., 1995), was published in conjunction with the New York concert. At the time of his death in November 1999, Paul Bowles had reclaimed his place as an American composer of significance.

Irene Herrmann

Irene Herrmann was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned degrees in both German Literature and Music. She received her Masters Degree (1993) in Performance Practice from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with an emphasis on American vernacular music and 20th century piano repertoire. She has performed for many years with the New Music Works of Santa Cruz, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and various ensembles at University of California, Santa Cruz, where she also teaches courses in the Music Department. Herrmann worked extensively with Paul Bowles and serves as the executor of Bowles's musical estate.

An Evening of Works by Paul Bowles: a Masters Recital by Irene Herrmann. Santa Cruz, CA: UCSC Music Department, 1993. (cf. Paul Bowles Papers, Supplement 1999, series XV.)University of Delaware Library, Special Collections. Paul Bowles, 1910–1999: Catalog of an Exhibition August 22, 2000–December 15, 2000: Special Collections, Hugh M. Morris Library. Newark, DE: University of Delaware Library, 2000


3.6 linear foot (8 boxes)

3 oversize box


The Irene Herrmann Paul Bowles Music Collection spans the dates 1935–2002, and consists of music manuscripts, published sheet music, and sound recordings related to the American composer and writer Paul Bowles, as collected by the executor of his musical estate, Irene Herrmann.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Irene Herrmann and purchase, 2000-2005


Please note that the physical condition of many of the sound recordings and their containers is poor. Preservation reformatting is yet to be done for any sound recordings in this collection.

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0163 Paul Bowles papers

MSS 0164 Paul Bowles collection

MSS 0165 Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno papers related to Paul Bowles

MSS 0323 Paul Bowles letters to William Saroyan

MSS 0324 Paul Bowles letters to John Martin

MSS 0615 Night Waltz: the Music of Paul Bowles collection

Materials Cataloged Separately

The following items were removed from the Irene Herrmann-Paul Bowles Music Collection for cataloging with the print collection in Special Collections:

Bowles, Paul. Scenes from the Door. New York: Éditions de la Vipère, 1933. (A musical imprint created by Bowles)

Bowles, Paul (with Jonathan Sheffer, conductor of the Eos Ensemble). Secret Words: a suite of songs. n.p., n.d.

Garland, Peter.Soundings. 1972 (no. 1)–1986 (no. 14–15), [Sylmar, CA and Santa Fe, NM: P. Garland], 1972. The run of this serial is near complete; however, some issues are lacking.

Shelving Summary

Boxes 1-2: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (17 inches)

Boxes 3-5: Shelved in SPEC Media record center cartons

Box 6: Shelved in SPEC Media manuscript boxes

Box 7: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (20 inches)

Box 8: Shelved in SPEC Media shoeboxes

Processing Information

Processed by Gerald Cloud, November 2003. Revised and encoded by Lora J. Davis, February 2010. Additional encoding by Jaime Margalotti, June 2021.

Finding aid for Irene Herrmann Paul Bowles music collection
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2021 June 15
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA