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William Presser Original Music Scores

Identifier: M91

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the drafts and published works of Dr. William Presser, as well as music books for beginners and other works published under the Theodore Presser Publishing Co. Included with these items are hymns composed by R.G. Lowry and a program of a University of Southern Mississippi Music Department Faculty Recital.


  • Creation: 1885
  • Creation: 1901-1904
  • Creation: 1921
  • Creation: 1963-1978; undated


Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical / Historical

William Henry Presser was born in Saginaw, Michigan on April 16, 1916 to his parents Charles Hubbard Presser and Alta Virginia Griffith. He focused his musical talents around the violin and started his music career at Saginaw Freshman College. He then finished his Bachelor of Arts in music at Alma College, Michigan in 1938. From there, he continued his studies at the University of Michigan where he studied composition, conducting, and violin performance. Some conductors he studied under were Thor Johnson, Herman Genhart, Guy Fraser Harrison, and Pierre Monteux. Along with those conductors, he studied composition with Percival Price. He began composing his own works here in 1939. He graduated in 1940 with a Master of Arts of music in violin. In the same year, on October 16, he registered for the draft.

He then taught at Buena Vista College in Iowa, and then entered Eastman School of Music the summer of 1942. Presser was then drafted into the Army on March 54, 1943. He served in the military police until he was discharged. He returned to Eastman where he played second violin and viola in the Rochester Philharmonic for two years. In 1947, Presser graduated from Rochester with a PhD in music theory. He continued to teach at Florida State College of Women. There he taught violin and conducted in the orchestra. While he was there, he met Vera Geraldine Farnsworth. He then moved to teach at Florence state Teacher’s College, now known as North Alabama University. On December 25, 1950, he and Vera were married.

He then became the Head of the Music Department of West Texas University until he moved to San Francisco where he taught at a small school and worked as a freelance violinist. In 1953, he entered Mississippi Southern College, now known as the University of Southern Mississippi, to teach music theory and orchestration. Along with teaching, Presser conducted in the music ensembles for his seven years tenure. He stayed there until his retirement in 1981.

Along with his teachings, Presser was the resident composer at Appalachian State University, as well as a guest composer at schools such as Winona State University, Tufts University, and Indiana University. He also taught at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. He was the founder of Tenuto-Tritone Publications in 1961. He also received eleven 1st place awards from unrestricted national contests for composition, and annual awards since 1966 from ASCAP for his contributions. On August 20, 2004, William Henry Presser died in Lafayette, Louisiana.


3 Cubic Feet : Boxes 4-6 are oversized

Language of Materials



The William Henry Presser Collection contains original drafts and published works that were composed by Dr. William Presser, as well as works published under the Theodore Presser Publishing Co. Included in this collection are hymns by R.G. Lowry and a recital program for Dr. William Presser. This collection is of particular interest to those studying music and the inner workings of music composition.


This collection consists of 5 folders and 1 oversized folder.


Permanently loaned out by Dr. William Presser on December 6, 1978.

Related Materials

Published scores of Professor William Presser are available in Cook Library. See the USM Libraries' online catalog for more information.

M90 Albert Gower Manuscripts of Music

M346 Luigi Zaninelli Collection

AM82-14 Paul Yoder Musical Scores

AM85-2 Joe Berryman Collection

RG4, Faculty/Staff Biographies: Presser, William

Sources U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2005. =&pid=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=fXB22&_phstart=successSource Accessed January 15, 2020. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid =2238&h=299943765&tid=&pid=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=fXB21&_ phstart=successSource Accessed January 15, 2020.

Davis, K., Herrick, R., & Fletcher, J. (1992). A stylistic and interpretive study of Three Songs of Love and Woe and Four Herrick Songs by William Presser: with biographical profiles of the composer and the poets. Thesis (D.M.A)—University of Southern Mississippi, 1992. Pg. 5-19.

Faculty & staff bulletin. (1960). Hattiesburg, Miss: The University of Southern Mississippi].

M91, William Henry Presser Collection, Historical Manuscripts, Special Collections, The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries.

Tritone Press & Tenuto Publications. Accessed January 15, 2020.

William Presser Original Music Scores
Collection processed and finding aid written by Myra Grace Breland
January 17, 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001