Dalcroze Library at Ohio State

Archiving the advancement of Dalcroze Eurhythmics in North America is a project endorsed by The Ohio State University Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute. In 1997, OSU acquired the intellectual property of Dr. Irwin Spector, author of Rhythm and Life (Pendragon Press). This donation included 32 boxes of letters, photographs, and books by Jaques-Dalcroze and other authors. In addition, the Spector family created an endowment to develop and maintain a Dalcroze research collection. Graduate students and archive specialists have worked to catalogue the material, preserve documents in acid-free folders, and scan important documents to be added to the research website.

Following the gift from the Spectors, three additional collections which document the contribution of American Dalcroze specialists have been acquired. In early 2000, Ohio State received the intellectual property of Hilda Schuster, who is recognized as the first certified Dalcroze instructor in the United States. The Schuster collection consists of books, scores, letters, and photographs that document the growth of Dalcroze in New York. The photographs that were hanging in Dr. Schuster’s studio in New York City are being restored by a professional restorer. Some have been exhibited at the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute. In 2001, the Center received research materials from the estate of John Colman, who left behind a wealth of compositions and ideas for teaching keyboard improvisation. Following the death of Arthur Becknell, who taught eurhythmics at the University of Wisconsin, the center received his intellectual property which included numerous detailed lesson plans for eurhythmics.

There are many reasons that Dalcroze material needs to be preserved. We are able to trace the development of Dalcroze Eurhythmics in America thanks to the documentation begun by Arthur Becknell. Since the completion of his doctoral dissertation, A History of the Development of Dalcroze Eurhythmics in the United States and its Influence on The Public School Music Program, Dalcroze Eurhythmics has continued to grow in North America. Documenting this growth and tracing the lineage of instructors is one benefit of preserving and studying this material.

Every Dalcroze instructor has a unique style. Eurhythmics and solfège lesson plans, compositions, choreographies, and improvisations all reflect the needs of the students as well as the sensibilities of the instructor. John Colman, for example, left behind a wealth of solfège lessons – some written on the back of a utility bill. This material will soon be available for study and perhaps used again in a learning environment.  Much of the material in the library provides a link to the original work of M. Jaques.

The benefits of the Dalcroze work are well known to its instructors, but in the age of data collection and assessment, indicators of success are increasingly necessary. Documenting lessons and results over time may be the impetus needed to provide funding for school music programs.  The Dalcroze Library at Ohio State provides voluminous raw materials to support those making the case for the efficacy of the Dalcroze work.

Dalcroze Eurhythmics is found in therapeutic situations such as palliative care for terminally ill adults, for emotionally or developmentally handicapped children, and for adults affected with post-traumatic stress disorders. Eurhythmics is also branching out into other performing arts, such as dance and theater. Somatic studies programs are looking at Dalcroze Eurhythmics as a resource for holistic learning and well-being.

Documenting the continuing progress of Dalcroze Eurhythmics in North America is a time-consuming and worthwhile endeavor. If you have materials you believe are worth documenting and preserving, please contact:
Professor Nena Couch, Curator
Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute
The Ohio State University
couch.1@osu.edu
614-292-6614