Handel and Haydn Society Records, 1808-2011 | Boston Public Library Archival and Manuscript Finding Aid Database
This collection documents the growth and influence of the Handel and Haydn Society from its inception in Boston, Massachusetts to the international stage. From its beginning, the Society has been governed by its Board of Governance, which oversees all aspects of concert production, financial matters, and chorus administration. The minutes of the first meeting, held on March 24, 1815, record the creation of the Society by Boston merchants whose mission it was to cultivate public appreciation of sacred music and to introduce the works of George Frideric Handel, Joseph Haydn, and other eminent composers. Among the most common subjects that run throughout the meeting minutes are concert planning, music selection, and the Society’s finances. Also included are chorus membership and status, scheduling of rehearsal space and concert locations, and organizing special events such as anniversary celebrations and memorial concerts. In addition, records made by the Society and broadcasted performances are documented. Minutes date from 1815-1983, but are not inclusive. Also included are presidents’ addresses, which provide comprehensive yearly overviews of the rehearsal and concert schedules and performances, rosters of soloists, and the Society’s financial condition. Addresses date from 1818-1978 with gaps. Moreover the collection contains bills and disbursements that were retained from 1815-1894 and record all of the expenses that were incurred by the Society beginning with the first performance of Messiah to the cost of building lease agreements.
Administrative records reflect the work done by Handel and Haydn staff, such as staging plans, coordinating rehearsal schedules, and special events planning. Also covered are outreach efforts as well as special events, among them the Society’s 150th Anniversary and the Ago conference held in 1976. The collection also chronicles the Society’s performance history from 1815-1995, including such concerts as George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Gioachino Rossini’s Moses in Egypt.
Records include meeting minutes, chorus roll and attendance books, correspondence, newspaper clippings, programs, and photographs.
Series 1: Governance, n.d., 1815-1989
Series 2: Administrative and Financial Records, n.d., 1815-1995
Series 3: Publicity, n.d., 1815-1995, 2011
Series 4: Chorus Records, 1815-1960
Series 5: Memorabilia and Photographs, n.d., 1808-1976
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