Edna Phillips Papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Subject Terms

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Music and Recordings

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Finding Aid for Edna Phillips Papers, 1930-1970 | The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

By Noah Lenstra and Maia Perez

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Collection Overview

Title: Edna Phillips Papers, 1930-1970Add to your cart.

ID: 12/9/122

Primary Creator: Phillips, Edna (1907-2003)

Extent: 1.5 cubic feet

Arrangement: Arranged in one series, consisting of published and manuscript music, and a recording. The series is arranged alphabetically by composer, with oversized materials in boxes 4 and 5.

Date Acquired: 01/15/2004. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Compositions-Music, Harps

Formats/Genres: Sound Recordings

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Consists of published and unpublished music that was either played by or commissioned by Edna Phillips during her career as a harpist between 1930 and 1970. Many of the pieces include Phillips' hand-written performance annotations. The collection also includes the October 12, 1945 sound recording of Phillips performing Paul White's "Sea Chanty" with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the conductor, Eugene Ormandy.

Biographical Note

Edna Phillips (January 7, 1907 - December 2, 2003) was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, and became first woman to occupy a principal position with a major American symphony when she joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as first harp in 1930. At the age of seventeen she began studying harp with Florence Wightman in 1924, and three years later enrolled as a piano and harp student at the Curtis Institute of Music in the fall of 1927.  The following year she began her private studies with Carlos Salzedo who taught harp at Curtis and was one of Wightman's teachers.  In 1929 Phillips joined the Philadelphia Orchestra shortly after graduation from Curtis at the age of 22.

Phillips began teaching harp at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music in 1933 and remain with that instituion until 1972 when she retired.  Concerned with the meagerness of solo music repertoire for harp, she commissioned numerious  works for harp from such composers as Harl McDonald, Paul White, Alberto Ginastera, Nicolai Berezowsky, Ernst Krenek, and Erno von Dohnanyi.  Her most famous commission was Ginastera's Concerto for Harp which was premiered by Nicanor Zabaleta and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1965.

Phillips married Samuel Rosenbaum, a prominent attorney and board member of the Philadelphia Orchestra, in 1933.  However she never changed her professional name and was always referred to as "Miss Phillips" throughout the remainder of her career.

Subject/Index Terms


Administrative Information

Repository: The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

Accruals: Additional donation made on December. 23, 2019 by Clinton Niewig.

Acquisition Source: Joan Solaun, Phillips' daughter, Urbana, Illinois

Acquisition Method: Gift

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Music and Recordings, 1906-1969],

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Music and Recordings, 1906-1969],

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