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Special Collections: Homer Moore


Contents

Biographical Sketch


Homer Moore was born April 29, 1863 in Chautauqua County, NY. His father, H.H. Moore, was active in the Chautauqua Assembly and was a local farmer. Homer Moore died in May of 1952 and while the exact date is unknown, he was cremated and interred at Forrest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, CA on May 14, 1952.

Moore received musical instruction at home on a reed organ and received formal musical education at the University of Kansas at Lawrence, KS and at the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA where he was enrolled two years sometime prior to 1882. After leaving Boston, Moore went to Columbus, Ohio where he was a church singer and voice teacher from 1882-84. In 1884 Moore, moved to Chicago where he studied with William Tomlins and continued to sing and teach. He sang with Mrs. Thurber's American Opera Company, Academy of Music, N.Y. from 1886-87 and with the Chicago Light Opera from 1887-89.

In August 1888, he entered the Akademie der Tonkunst in Munich where he studied Wagnerian opera. He returned to America in 1889 and continued working as a singer and teacher in Cleveland (1889), Pittsburgh (1893-96), New York (1896-97), Omaha (1898), St. Louis (1898-18), Tampa (1919-29), Miami (1930-1934), Chicago (1934-37) and later in various locales in southern California from 1937 to the end of his life.

After returning from Munich, Moore lectured on Wagner musical dramas at Chautauqua, NY (1892). In particular he lectured on the Ring of the Nibelungen and sang his own examples to the delight of the participants.

His first opera was The Fall of Rome based on a novel by Wilkie Collins and was composed while in Columbus. His second opera was The New World written while he lived in Pittsburgh. It received a concert performance in St. Louis. His third opera was The Puritans also received a concert performance in St. Louis. While residing in New York, he wrote his next opera, Louis XIV. This was produced in St. Louis at the Odeon Theater on February 16, 1917. The St. Louis Symphony made up the orchestra and the composer conducted. The work was later reworked for the Chicago Opera Company but was never produced.

Ernst C. Krohn commented about Moore's opera, Louis XIV writing: "Homer Moore, a Missouri composer by adoption, staged his new opera, Louis XIV, at the Odeon, February 16, 1917. His leading star, Florencio Constantino, had not taken the trouble to learn his part, and the first performance was a failure. A repeat performance with another tenor proved more successful."

And,

"A most ambitious attempt to mount a new Opera despite the high cost was made at St. Louis, February 16, 1917. On that day Homer Moore's Grand Opera "Louis XIV" was presented at the Odeon, with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, a Chorus of sixty singers, a Ballet of forty dancers and a cast including Evelina Parnell, Marguertia Beriza, Augusta Lenska, Henri Scott and Florencio Constantino. It was a brave effort, but the indisposition of one of the singers prevented a proper appreciation of Moore's quite delightful music." (Krohn, Missouri Music).

The New World, The Pilgrims, and The Puritans make up Moore's "American Trilogy" and were written while he lived in St. Louis. Writing opera and advocating for a "national opera house" would become his life-long passions.

On the topic of his "American Trilogy" Moore writes, "In these works I am trying to so use our national history, traditions, legends, manners, customs, superstitions, and beliefs as to bring out thoroughly their dramatic significance, and to reveal, not so much history and historic characters, as social atmosphere and the forces that prevailed at the time and characterized the minds and opinions of those who did things and were the foundation upon which our national structure, temperament, etc., have been built."(Elson, The History of American Music).

As a conductor, Moore remained active most of his life. He conducted the Oratorio Society while in Pittsburgh; conducted the Musical Society at Norfolk, Va.; organized the National Congress of Musicians at Trans-Mississippi Exposition (Omaha, Neb.) 1898, and conducted the Omaha Musical Society and Orchestra. While in St. Louis, Moore was the manager of the St. Louis Choral-Symphony Society 1899-00 and Director of Music, First Presbyterian Church, 1913-18.

Moore seems to have tried his hand at writing music criticism while he lived in St. Louis. Moore was music critic for St. Louis Republic and for St. Louis Globe-Democrat as well as for the Omaha Bee. He continued writing for newspapers after moving to Tampa where he was the music critic of the Tampa Tribune. He also wrote occasionally for the Musical Courier.

"It is my opinion that there never will be any reasonable chance for the American composer until we have opera companies in all our large cities and the operas are sung in English." - Homer Moore.

Moore was concerned throughout his teaching career that American singers were not being properly instructed on how to sing in English. To this end, Moore published A System of Phonetics (1913) and also wrote out several phonetic translations of well-known opera librettos.

Together with Moore's dream about a national opera house, he also dreamed of a new kind of musical entertainment for that venue. He explains, "I can offer something that is, so far as I know, new in the way of a musical and dramatic entertainment. I observed that the fabricators of moving pictures selected their incidental music from the works of all sorts of composers and used it where it would d to the most good. I decided that I would try something similar. For the first one I put together a story laid in present day India and wrote a libretto just as if I intended to compose original music for it but, instead of doing so, I selected music from a variety of works suitable to the action and emotions of the drama, beginning with the Prelude to Boabdil, by Moszkowski and ending with a lively song by Clayton Johns arranged as a chorus. The musical numbers are interspersed with spoken dialogue. I have covered a wide range of time and place in the eleven music dramas I have so far written and have included in them about 200 different musical compositions, many of them beautiful works of musical art now generally forgotten because included in operas no longer given."

Moore's ideas met considerable resistance from publishers blocking the use of copyrighted materials in new works without royalties being paid and from financial backers - none who would ever share his dream for a revitalized form of live opera.

Finding list of the Homer Moore Archive

(prepared 5/24/02)
Box I: Biography and Family
  1. (folder)
    • biographical information on Homer Moore
    • correspondence from Deveda Merrilyn McDonough Littauer
  2. (folder)
    • Will and interrment arrangement
  3. Photographs
    • (folder)loose family photographs
    • 2 leather bound photograph albums
    • 5 envelopes of photographs
Box II: Correspondence and writings
  • 6 folders of letters from his parents in Chautauqua, NY (1897-1902)
  • 19 folders of letter(mainly from 1930 until 1952)
  • 13 diary/date books (1939-51)
  • 1 folder - European Society of Nations (political writing)
  • 1 folder - United States Corporate Federation (political writing)
  • 1 folder - Opera Company plans
  • 1 folder - Ballet Outline
  • 1 folder - phonetic alphabet
  • 1 folder - miscellaneous writings and clippings
Box III: Articles
  • 6 scrapbooks of newspapers clipping from 1898-1930. Articles written by Moore
  • 1 folder of additional clippings and articles about Moore
Box IV: Writings and Librettos
  • Plan for a Society of Nations (typescript)
  • untitled novel (typescript)
  • Elfwife (novel, typescript)
  • After death (libretto, typescript)
  • Amzar (synopsis, handwritten)
  • Anno Domini 5000 (libretto, typescript)
  • The Degenerate (libretto, handwritten and typescript)
  • The Devil (libretto, 3 versions, typescript, and phonetic translation)
  • Flesh of My Flesh (libretto, handwritten and typescript)
  • Her Choice (libretto, handwritten and typescript)
  • Ingenoff (libretto, 3 versions, typescript)
Box V: Librettos (continued)
  • Ingenoff (libretto, phonetic translation)
  • Joan (libretto, handwritten)
  • Legs and Leggers (libretto, typescript)
  • Making Men (libretto, typescript)
  • Miami A.D. 5000 (libretto, handwritten and typescript)
  • The Moonstone (libretto, handwritten and typescript)
  • Mystic India (libretto, typescript)
  • The New Freedom (libretto, handwritten and typescript)
  • The Pilgrims (libretto, handwritten)
  • The Pioneers (synopsis)
  • The Princess (libretto, handwritten and typescript)
  • The Puritans (libretto, typescript)
  • The Queen of Antioch (libretto, typescript)
  • The Queen of Zenkania (libretto, typescript)
  • Sunrise and Sunset (libretto, handwritten, typescript and phonetic translation)
  • The Wine of Mystery (synopsis and libretto, typescript)
  • Wives (libretto, handwritten and typescript)
  • The Witch (libretto, handwritten and typescript)
  • Bizet/Carmen (phonetic libretto, typescript)
  • Nicolai/The Merry Wives of Windsor (phonetic libretto, typescript)
  • Wagner/Lohengrin (phonetic libretto, typescript)
  • Wagner/Tristan and Isolde (phonetic libretto, typescript)

List of manuscripts

Note: Manuscript titles are transcribed from the items themselves and are not necessarily consistent throughout the list. Full Scores and Accompanying Materials
  1. Elfwife box
    • full score in manuscript, various manuscripts, libretto (typescript)
  2. Izubar the Prophet box
    • full score in manuscript, various manuscripts, libretto (typescript)
  3. Loius XIV box 1
    • photographs of performers
    • printed libretto (1 copy with corrections of Moore's)
    • framed play bill
  4. Louis XIV box 2
    • full score in manuscript, piano-vocal score, stage manager book, master of the ballet, chorus master, chorus parts
  5. Louis XIV box 3
    • orchestral parts
  6. The New World box
    • full score in manuscript, various manuscripts, libretto (typescript)
  7. Orangia box
    • full score in manuscript, libretto (typescript)

Partial Scores and Accompanying Materials

  1. Kismet box
    • libretto (handwritten and typescript) and various manuscripts
  2. Moses the Prince of Egypt box
    • synopsis (handwritten), libretto (typescript and phonetic translation) and various manuscripts
  3. The Old West box
    • piano-vocal score and parts, libretto (typescript) and various manuscripts
  4. Miscellaneous Music Manuscripts box
    • excerpt from After Death
    • Ave Maria
    • Daughter of Zion
    • Fall of Rome (2 sketch books)
    • excerpt from Flesh of My Flesh
    • Giorantha (Act II, Scene II) (sketch book)
    • One More
    • Prayer to Allah
    • excerpt from The Princess
    • Radio Synagogue Music
    • sketch book of solos
    • 2 sketch books of vocal parts
  5. Music Manuscript Fragments box