Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MS Mus 132-132.1

Wilhelm Gericke papers


Correspondence of the Austrian-born composer and conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Wilhelm Gericke with colleagues concerning concerts, compositions, performers, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and other musical matters. Also includes signed photographs.


  • Creation: 1876-1940

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.


4.5 linear feet (7 boxes)

Contains correspondence of Gericke with colleagues concerning concerts, compositions, performers, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and other musical matters. Also includes correspondence with notable musicians and composers, such as Brahms, Bruckner, and Mahler, and with Gericke family members. Most of the letters are in German or English. Also contains manuscripts of music by Gericke and other composers, poems, Gericke's notes on musical performances, and photographs, notes, cards, and other memorabilia.

Also includes inscribed and signed photographs of Johannes Brahmes, Ferruccio Busoni, Johann Strauss, and others, as well as Ludwig van Beethoven's hair, visiting card, and autograph manuscript note.

Biographical / Historical

Wilhelm Gericke was a conductor and composer who worked primarily in Vienna, Austria, and Boston. Born in Austria, he trained to be a schoolmaster first, and then joined a theater orchestra playing the violin. In 1862, Gericke entered the Vienna Conservatory, and in 1865, began directing opera in Linz and Vienna. By 1874, he was the second kapellmeister and chorus master at the Vienna Court Opera, where he gave the Vienna premiere of Richard Wagner’s Tannhauser. In 1880, Gericke became the conductor of the Vienna Society and its choral society. Henry Lee Higginson of the Boston Symphony Orchestra saw one of his performances in Vienna soon thereafter, and invited him to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which he did for two separate periods of time, between 1884-1889 and 1898-1906. He made methods to boost the seriousness of the orchestra, including adding rehearsals, hiring additional international musicians, and reducing the lighter music that had been part of the program. In 1884, he was made an honorary member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfruende in Vienna. Gericke returned to Vienna in 1889 for health reasons and took back the role of leader of the Gesellschaftsconcerte, resigning in 1895. He then returned to Boston, returning to Vienna in 1906 when the Boston Symphony Orchestra did not meet contractual demands. Throughout his life, Gericke also published a number of works for orchestra, pianoforte, and chamber music.


Organized into the following series:

Series I: Letters, correspondence, and manuscripts Series II: Photographs and other matierials Series III:Compositions 1866-1890 Series IV: Biographical Materials: Awards, Certificates, and Photographs 1882-1925

Physical Location

b, Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

*66M-183. Gift of Katherine M. Gericke, 7 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138; received: 1967 Dec.; with additional material added as bMS Mus 132.1 (not reaccessioned).

Gericke, Wilhelm, 1845-1925. Wilhelm Gericke papers: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

Harvard Yard
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2440