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Lawrence Berk papers on the Schillinger system, circa 1930s.

Electronic resources

Available copies

  • 1 of 1 copy available at Berklee College of Music.

Current holds

0 current holds with 1 total copy.

Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Holdable? Status Due Date
Berklee Archives BCA-007 37684001085735 Archival Storage -- By Appointment Not holdable Available -

Record details

  • Physical Description: 1.0 Cubic feet

Content descriptions

General Note:
Processing Information: These materials were processed with interpretive and descriptive assistance from Phil DiTullio of the Schillinger Society (, who provided the information included in series-level scope and content notes.
Restrictions on Access Note:
This non-circulating collection is open for research use by appointment on site at the college archives (Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with evening hours available upon request). Advance notice is required to retrieve archival items because these materials are stored offsite. Use of audiovisual materials may require the production of listening or viewing copies. To schedule an appointment or request further information, please email ( or call (617-747-8001) the college archivist. These papers have also been scanned and are available online here:
Summary, etc.:
This collection consists of 11 binders comprised of notes, formulas and other figures compiled and created by Lawrence Berk, founder of Berklee College of Music. Although materials are undated, it is assumed that these materials were produced in the 1930s as a result of Berk’s private study with Joseph Schillinger, creator of the Schillinger System of Musical Composition (SSOMC). Therefore, these papers presumably contain the foundation of Berklee’s early curriculum. The materials in this collection include handwritten notes by both Berk and Schillinger, and lessons on various aspects of the Schillinger system: theories of harmony, rhythm, melody, counterpoint, pitch scales, permutations, and geometrical inversions. The final binder also contains an introductory course in arranging, presumed to have been authored by Lawrence Berk and possibly others. Schillinger’s methods were later compiled and published posthumously as the Schillinger System of Musical Composition, consisting of 12 books presented over 2 volumes. With the assistance of independent Schillinger scholar Phil DiTullio, the series-level notes in this collection relate Berk and Schillinger’s notes to the corresponding book in the published version.
Preferred Citation of Described Materials Note:
[Identification of item], in the Lawrence Berk papers on the Schillinger System, BCA-007. College Archives, Stan Getz Library, Berklee College of Music.
Location of Other Archival Materials Note:
Related materials may be found in BCA-006 (Jerome Gross and Bert Henry papers on the Schillinger System), which consists of correspondence coursework completed by Dr. Gross under Schillinger, as well as notes and other memorabilia created and compiled by Bert Henry, another authorized teacher of the Schillinger System of Musical Composition who briefly operated the Schillinger Center of Cleveland.
Biographical or Historical Data:
Lawrence Berk (1908-1995) grew up in Boston’s West End and was the founder and first president of Berklee College of Music, a position he held from 1945-1979. Berk graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in architectural engineering in 1932. He was a pianist, composer, arranger and educator.Berk was particularly influenced by Russian-born mathematician, music theorist, composer, and educator Joseph Schillinger (1895-1943), who developed a unique mathematical system of music composition and analysis known as the Schillinger System of Musical Composition (SSOMC). The SSOMC was utilized by various well-known popular musicians, including George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and others (Hazell, Ed, and Lee Eliot Berk, Berklee: the First Fifty Years. Boston, Berklee Publication, 1995. Print. p. 4).Lawrence Berk worked as a composer and arranger for CBS and NBC radio in New York in the 1930s, during which time he studied with Schillinger. Berk went on to become one of a dozen instructors sometimes referred to as the “12 disciples” who were authorized to teach the Schillinger System of Musical Composition. In 1945, Berk purchased a three-story building at 284 Newbury Street and established his own music school based on these methods. Schillinger House soon became widely renown as an innovative school for jazz and contemporary music and was eventually renamed Berklee College of Music, as it is known today (Hazell, Ed, and Lee Eliot Berk, Berklee: the First Fifty years. Boston, Berklee Publication, 1995. Print. pp.10-11).
Cumulative Index/Finding Aids Note:
Finding Aid available online:
Subject: Schillinger, Joseph, 1895-1943. Schillinger system of musical composition.
Schillinger, Joseph, 1895-1943.

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