Preliminary Guide to the William E. Brandt Papers 1949-2009

Summary Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Brandt, William Edward Brandt, William Edward
Preliminary Guide to the William Brandt Papers
Date [inclusive]
4 linear feet, 5 boxes.
(MASC staff use) 2-2-22-1.
Collection materials are in English.
Materials are in English.
This collection consists of papers of William E. Brandt (1920-2009), Professor of Music at Washington State University, between 1949 and 2009.

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(From the guide to the William Brandt Papers, Cage 584)

William Edward Brandt was born in Butte, Montana, in 1920. Shortly thereafter, his family moved to Spokane, Washington. He began endeavoring to compose music as early as fourteen, teaching himself enough to write rudimentary compositions during the period between high school and his second year of college (1934-1939). Brandt began attending the State College of Washington in 1939, majoring in chemistry, but composing music for the classes in Modern Dance taught by Norma Anderson. Brandt began almost four years of military service in the U.S. Army in 1942. Travel associated with his army enlistment allowed him to attend recitals and concerts around the country, including stops in Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, where he attended concerts and recitals. He worked for three years as a librarian of classified materials at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, a position that gave Brandt time on weekends to continue his work with composition, with a strong emphasis on counterpoint and form. In Utah, he also met the late well-known illustrator Edward Gorey, with whom he maintained a friendship.

In 1945, Brandt met and married Jane Quire (also from Spokane), who for a brief time had attended the famous Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York. Their son, Roger Frederick, was born in May of 1946. Jane Quire encouraged Brandt to apply to Eastman on a so-called "challenge" basis, which he did successfully with a composition titled "Night." After he was discharged from the Army in 1946, Jane encouraged him to apply for serious study in music at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, New York, which she had attended briefly. He applied to their Graduate School on a "challenge" basis, submitting a work for large orchestra, chorus and vocal soloists based on Robinson Jeffers' poem "Night" as evidence of his abilities. He was admitted and studied orchestration and composition with Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson from 1946-1950. His successes at Eastman began with a reading of the "Poe Ballet" at the 1947 Symposium, and with other readings at subsequent Eastman Symposia.

During the Eastman years, Brandt's compositional style (as he writes in unpublished biographical notes quoted throughout this synoptic sketch) became more "reasoned and modal" and less rooted in "romantic chromaticism" and "tonality." Though contrapuntal, the writing was less dissonant, featuring compositions more "unified in harmonic and melodic" schemes. The orchestral "King Lear Suite" and the "Third String Quartet," examples of Brandt's Eastman style, were chosen by Howard Hanson to be performed at the American Composers Festival Concerts in Rochester and in Toronto, respectively. Brandt obtained his Master of Music degree in 1948 and his Ph.D. in 1950.

From 1950 to 1956, Brandt sought permanent employment in his field. He and Jane Quire divorced. He taught music in Seattle for a time, giving piano classes under the auspices of the Hopper-Kelly Music Company. During the course of his work, he met soprano Janet Steinke. They were married in 1953 and had two sons, David Evans Brandt (b. 1955) and Douglas Edward Brandt (b. 1960).

Brandt was a member of the musical faculty of Washington State University from 1956 to 1985, when he retired as full professor. From 1958 to 1983, he was also the choirmaster at St. James Episcopal Church in Pullman, Washington. During this period Brandt's secular compositional style became increasingly "chromatic, building on the previous contrapuntal style" and evolved into the twelve-tone serial technique. The variety of choral music he composed for the church, by contrast, was written in a tonally nonfunctional triadic style "in order to effect some sort of compromise between desirable 'modernity' and the limitations of the choir, the tastes of the congregation, and the composer's own somewhat conservative ideas about church music. . . ." Brandt published The Way of Music in 1963, and issued a revised edition in 1968. He worked with music faculty at Indiana University to produce a unified course in music theory and history. Brandt was responsible for anthologies covering the Baroque, Classic and Romantic periods. Other authors produced the Medieval and Modern period anthologies as well as accompanying theory and sight-singing texts. Due to a change in the ownership of the publisher, only the anthologies were published. In the 1980s, Brandt wrote another unpublished text for use in his Washington State University Honors courses which dealt with how various arts in the twentieth century reflected their historical contexts. Since retiring in 1985, his musical compositions have been composed in a "looser, not always dodecaphonic style, even plainly tonal when the purpose and the materials seem to require it." Brandt's "Toccata for Piano" was played in South America on a tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

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Scope and Content

This collection consists of papers of William E. Brandt (1920-2009), Professor of Music at Washington State University, between 1949 and 2009. It includes sheet music composed or collected by Brandt, such as those used for college courses, religious applications, and in research. The collection also contains personal and professional correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, chamber operas, as well as awards and his diploma from Washington State College.

Preliminary Inventory:

Box 1: Sheet music (primarily religious music).

Box 2: Sheet music.

Box 3: Sheet music; personal and professional correspondence, including correspondence and papers related to Howard Hanson; papers related to family genealogy, and theater programs.

Box 4: Papers documenting the life and career of Brandt, including sheet music, newspaper clippings, personal and professional correspondence, photographs, camber operas, as well as awards and his diploma from WSC.

Box 5: Issues of Music Educators Journal and textbooks co-authored by Brandt,  The Comprehensive Study of Music: Anthology of Music from Beethoven through Wagner, and microfilm copies of sheet music.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries

Terrell Library

P.O. Box 645610

Pullman, WA, 99164-5610 USA


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open and available for research use. Copyright restrictions may apply.

Acquisition Information

William and Janet Brandt donated this collection to the Washington State University Libraries in 2006 (MS.2006.10).

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Related Materials

Related Material

William E. Brandt Papers, 1872-1995, Cage 584

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Names and Subjects

Personal Name(s)

Fmo(s) :
  • Brandt, William Edward


  • Washington State University--Faculty--Archives
  • Composers--Archives
  • Music

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