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The Cecil B. Leeson Saxophone Collection and Archive
Highlights of the Collection...
The Cecil B. Leeson Collection includes 30 saxophones and 9 other woodwind instruments. Notable among the saxophones are five made by Adolphe Sax between 1860-1878, the Evette & Schaeffer bass saxophone played in all the commercial recordings made by the Six Brown Brothers, and two Martin saxophones, one played by Leeson for the American Premiere of the Glazounoff Concerto with José Iturbi and the Rochester Philharmonic (January 13, 1939) and the other for the first Town Hall (New York) recital given by a saxophonist (February 5, 1937). Saxophones by Besson, Buescher, Conn, Couesnon, Leblanc, Mahillon, Selmer, and H. N. White are also included.
Autograph manuscripts of a number of twentieth-century composers who wrote major saxophone works for Leeson are included in the archives. Among these are works by Paul Creston, Morris Knight, Lawson Lunde, Edvard Moritz, Burnet Tuthill, Robert Sherman, Elie Siegmeister, Leon Stein, Jaromir Weinberger, and others.
The Leeson Archives also include Leeson's scrapbooks, correspondence, hundreds of photographs, sound recordings, programs, and other documentary materials.
The Leeson Collection and Archives also includes sixteen instruments, photographs, and correspondence from the Hewitt A. Waggener Saxophone Collection. Waggener's correspondence with Tom Brown (Six Brown Brothers), a lifelong friend, is also preserved in this archive. It was Waggener who collected four of the Adolphe Sax saxophones that are part of the Leeson Collection. These instruments were donated to Ball State University in 1971 by Waggener's daughter, Margaret (Peggy) L. Gould, and were later restored courtesy of the former G. Leblanc Corporation of Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Archival materials from both the Conn and Buescher Companies of Elkhart, Indiana, preserved by Leeson, are available in the NMM's Musical Instrument Manufacturers' Archive.
The Cecil B. Leeson Collection was transferred from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, to the NMM in May 1994, with the concurrence of Cecil Leeson's son, Tom.
About the Collector...
Cecil Leeson (1902-1989), a pioneer American saxophonist who had more than fifty works written for him, donated his collection to Ball State University, where he had been a member of the music department faculty, in 1977. Leeson was an advocate of the saxophone as an instrument capable of the highest degree of artistic expression, as well as one of the first musicologists and pedagogues of the instrument. He was a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Montreal Symphony, and others, as well as the first saxophonist to give a Town Hall recital in New York.
Instruments from the Leeson Collection are on display in the Everist Gallery. Other instruments and the archival materials are available for examination by appointment (see access guidelines) in the NMM's study-storage areas.
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