Finding Aid for Claude Gordon Personal Papers and Music Instrument Collection, 1888-1992 | The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

By Reed Gallo, Maurice Huck and Scott Schwartz

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Collection Overview

Title: Claude Gordon Personal Papers and Music Instrument Collection, 1888-1992Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

ID: 12/9/95

Primary Creator: Gordon, Claude (1916-1996)

Extent: 49.0 cubic feet

Arrangement:

The collection is organized in 6 series.

Series 1, Music, ca. 1900 - 1970s (Boxes 1 - 63)

Contains music from the Claude Gordon Big Band, the Gordon Family Orchestra, and other music of personal significance to Claude Gordon. Of particular interest are the arrangements Billy May wrote specifically for the Claude Gordon Big Band and are marked with an *. There was a numbering sequence that has been retained as a means of maintaining the original order.?  A cross reference between scores and parts is denoted by box and folder inside of the brackets; [ ].?  There is an original handwritten Gordon Family Orchestra Program and two Family Orchestra music folders.

Series II, Correspondence, ca. 1920s - 1990s (Boxes 64 - 65)

Contains correspondence with notable trumpet artists, like Frank Kaderabek, and the Selmer Music Company.?  Correspondence between Herbert L. Clarke, his primary trumpet instructor, can be found in Series IV.

Series III, Claude Gordon Band Records, ca. 1950s - 1990s (Boxes 66 - 67, 82)

Contains Claude Gordon's performance contracts and publicity for the Claude Gordon Big Band.?  Of importance are announcements of his Educational Material with Carl Fischer.?  There are two recordings of his big band.

Series IV, Education, ca. 1880s - 1990s (Boxes 68 - 84, 95 - 97, and Small Bore Mouthpiece Cases 1 - 2)

Contains Claude Gordon's educational output including the thought behind his method books and their various drafts.?  There is correspondence between Claude and Herbert L. Clarke, which led to his writing Brass Playing is No Harder Than Deep Breathing.?  Also contained in this body of material are Claude's personal method books of well-known methodologies and pedagogy.?  Claude Gordon held an annual trumpet and brass clinic and has kept his notes and video and audio tapes of these years.?  Claude Gordon also had a large collection of trumpets and mouthpieces. Of primary importance is the Besson prototype.?  A trumpet enthusiast will also take note of his Getzen trumpet that was primarily used by the Los Angelos studio artists in the 1960's. There is also a Selmer Paris trumpet that originally belonged to Louis Armstrong and then was passed on to Harry James.?  Claude Gordon also has a large collection of mouthpieces for both cornet and trumpet.?  A small collection of them have been cut in half, or spliced, so he could learn how they were made and why certain mouthpiece designs are more effective than others.

Series V, Photos, ca. 1920s - 1990s (Boxes 85 - 92)

Contains photos and memories from Claude Gordon's career as an artist of the trumpet and accordion, his education, and autographed photos from celebrities.?  Important photos include Arturo Sandoval and Frank Kaderabek.?  There is also a photo of Claude at age 16 playing the accordion in front of 25,000 people.?  Oversized photos include his big band and the Gordon Family Orchestra.

Series VI, Ephemera, ca. 1900s - 1990s (Boxes 93 - 94)

Contains Claude Gordon's Bible Education Manuscripts and other personal from his career and from his family.?  Of interest is a radio play written by his mother, Nelley Green.

Subjects: Bands, Brass Instruments, Music - United States, Musical Instrument Collections, Musical Instrument Makers - Europe, Musical Instrument Makers - United States, Music Education

Formats/Genres: Papers

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Consists of music, correspondence with Herbert L. Clarke and other notable trumpet artists, educational material, publicity and memorabilia, and performance contracts that highlight Claude Gordon's career as a musician and educator. This collection provides us with the original music that was performed through the venues of his career, educational material, and his unique collection of cornets, trumpets, and mouthpieces.

Biographical Note

Claude E. Gordon (1916 - 1996) was born into a family of musicians in Helena, Montana. He became a professional cornetist at the age of eight, a "private music instructor" at fourteen, and the leader of his own eight-piece jazz band by the time he was sixteen. He also was an accomplished accordion player and gave performances on both the cornet and accordion for radio shows in Great Falls, Montana. Claude moved to Los Angeles, California to study cornet with Herbert L. Clarke from 1936 through 1945. Gordon was hired by the May Company in April 1938 to record accordion commercials. Donald Ricardo hired Gordon on May 6, 1938 to play accordion with the NBC Orchestra. In 1939, Claude was cast as the gypsy accordion player in the Universal Studio's motion picture musical, An Old Spanish Custom, later renamed In Rhumba Land. During the 1950s Gordon emerged as one of Hollywood's frequently sought-after jazz trumpet soloists. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Gordon toured the United States with his orchestra, performing at such venues as Hollywood's Palladium Theater and New York City's Roseland Ballroom. Gordon's big band won the national title of "Best Dance Band" in a 1959 contest sponsored by the American Federation of Musicians.

By the mid-1960s Gordon rededicated his life to teaching, establishing himself as a leading educator of the cornet and trumpet. He taught at several different colleges and universities on America's west coast, and established a summer brass camp for music students of all ages and abilities. He wrote several method books: Systematic Approach to Daily Practice, Daily Trumpet Routines, and Physical Approach to Elementary Brass Playing, among others. It is reasonably safe to say that Herbert L. Clarke strongly influenced Gordon to write Brass Playing is No Harder Than Deep Breathing. Additionally, Gordon edited the Clarke-Gordon Technical Studies for Bass Clef, annotated Arban's Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet, and created the educational videotape series, The Seven Natural Elements of Brass Playing. Gordon also worked with the Selmer Music Company in the 1980s to develop their "Claude Gordon" model, an instrument that became a "standard" for their modern trumpet design. The "Claude Gordon Method" as his books, video tapes and teachings are referred to, continues to influence new students of brass playing. It will continue to be his legacy.

Subject/Index Terms

Bands
Brass Instruments
Music - United States
Musical Instrument Collections
Musical Instrument Makers - Europe
Musical Instrument Makers - United States
Music Education

Administrative Information

Repository: The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

Accruals: June 19, 2004

Acquisition Method: The papers and instrument collection were donated to the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign by Patricia Gordon on June 19, 2004.

Other Note: Pages


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Music],
[Series 2: Correspondence],
[Series 3: Claude Gordon Band Records, 1950-1996],
[Series 4: Education],
[Series 5: Photographs and Scrapbooks],
[Series 6: Ephemera],
[All]

Series 5: Photographs and ScrapbooksAdd to your cart.View associated digital content.
Box 85Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Career Photographs and Memorabilia, Book 1 (part 1 of 2), 1955 - 1959Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Career Photographs and Memorabilia, Book 1 (part 2 of 2),  1955 - 1959Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Folder 3: Career Photographs and Memorabilia, Book 2 (part 1 of 2), 1951 - 1985Add to your cart.
Box 86Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Career Photographs and Memorabilia, Book 2 (part 2 of 2),  1951 - 1985Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Career Photographs and Memorabilia, with Accordion (part 1 of 3), 1938 -1980'sAdd to your cart.View associated digital content.
Folder 3: Career Photographs and Memorabilia, with Accordion (part 2 of 3), 1938 -1980'sAdd to your cart.
Box 87Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Career Photographs and Memorabilia, with Accordion (part 3 of 3), 1938 -1980'sAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Performers Autographed Photographs from Claude's Studio Wall, ca. 1930's - ca. 1960'sAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Arturo Sandoval (autographed), ca. 1990Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Gordon Family Orchestra, 1929:  back is labeled with names & instrumentsAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Joni James, 1954Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Catalina Island, 1959Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Claude Conducting a Jazz Ensemble 1974Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Claude with Unidentified Performers, 1975Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Claude with Unidentified Trumpet Artists, 1977Add to your cart.
Folder 10: New York Brass Conference, 1987Add to your cart.
Box 88Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Brass Camp, 1991Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Brass Camp, 1992Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Brass Camp, 1993Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Claude Gordon at age 16, Playing accordion, 1932Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Folder 5: Claude with Mannie Klein, UndatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Claude at Eastman School of Music, UndatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Claude: High School Graduation, ca. 1934Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Brass Camp: UndatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Ruth Gordon, 1913 - ca. 1942Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Unidentified Accordian Player, UndatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 11: Negatives, UndatedAdd to your cart.
Box 89Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Scrapbook: Career, ca. 1929 - 1937Add to your cart.
Box 90Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Scrapbook: Career, ca. 1943 - 1962Add to your cart.
Box 91Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Claude Gordon High School Band Picture, ca. 1934Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Claude Gordon Family Orchestra, 1929Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Folder 3: Claude Gordon with the Mills Brothers, ca. 1950's or 1960'sAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Claude Gordon Band, ca. 1960Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Folder 5: Claude Gordon with Aristocats, ca. 1960Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Claude Gordon Brass Camp Promotional Flyer: February 7. 1977Add to your cart.
Box 92Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Claude Gordon Band Wins The Best New Big Band, 1959Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Folder 2: Scrapbook, ca. 1937 - 1949Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Music],
[Series 2: Correspondence],
[Series 3: Claude Gordon Band Records, 1950-1996],
[Series 4: Education],
[Series 5: Photographs and Scrapbooks],
[Series 6: Ephemera],
[All]

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