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Robert C. Marek papers

Identifier: MS-095

Content Description

The Robert C. Marek papers contain material from his time at the University of South Dakota as a music professor.

The collection contains original musical compositions with director's scores, orchestration, choral accompaniment, as well as arrangements and transcriptions; correspondence; teaching materials; programs of musical productions; historic photographs; newspaper clippings; pamphlets; books; and classical compositions by the masters. Additional materials include correspondence, biographical sketches of South Dakota composers; teaching material; class notes and grade books; programs of musical productions; historic photographs; newspapers clippings; pamphlets; sheet music copies and transcriptions of classical music by master composers.

The bulk of the collection consists of Marek's original musical compositions. A list is available. The compositions are arranged by size, i.e. oversize materials are in oversize boxes toward the end of the collection, and then in chronological order according to the date completed. Undated works are arranged alphabetically. Many of the works are written in pencil in Marek's hand. Several of the compositions include annotation. A variety of works make up Marek's musical compositions, including symphonies, cantatas, marches, overtures, musical theatre, operas, and Christmas suites. A work of special significance is the composition, Cantata for a Dedication, which was performed in Washington DC during the bicentennial celebration. Another significant feature of the collection is Marek's arrangements of Moravian hymns, Three Preludes on Moravian Hymns for Organ, which was commissioned by James Boeringer, Director of the Moravian Foundation. References to the Moravian works are included in the correspondence section of Marek's papers. Collaborative works include: All Things Begin, And the Lord Said, and Four songs from the Tree of Bones, composed with the poet, John Milton; Prosopa, a satiric opera and the opera, Arabesque, both written with dramatist Wayne Knutson.


  • Creation: 1944-1994


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research without restriction. Researchers are advised to contact the Archives and Special Collections prior to visiting. Advance notice may be needed to retrieve items for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers must obtain a signed Permission to Publish Form if they wish to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information from published and unpublished works held by ASC. Permission to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information materials from ASC does not constitute permission from the holder of copyright or literary rights. The researcher is responsible for securing permission from the copyright holder to publish or reproduce content from materials found in the collections.

Michael W. Marek retains copyright control over original writings of Robert C. Marek in the collection, including original music compositions, arrangements of public domain music and all other categories of original work.

Biographical / Historical

Robert Marek was born in Wisconsin on January 20, 1915. He began his music career at age nine when he began studying the violin. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and he received his bachelor's degree in music education from Kansas State College in Emporia. His graduate degrees in music theory were from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester in New York. He studied with Bernard Rogers and Wayne Barlow at the Eastman School. He taught in Wisconsin, Kansas, and Colorado prior to becoming a faculty member at the University of South Dakota in 1957. At USD he taught music theory, composition and counterpoint and was named Emeritus Professor in 1982. Marek died in 1995.

In a television biography, broadcast on South Dakota Public Television as a part of the South Dakota Composers series, Dr. Marek described his music as having a "…total chromatic tonal basis, with superimposed layers and lines of melody and a mixture of metric and non-metric rhythmic structures" He commented that, "Pitch textures are usually tonal, but may also be serially controlled or developed by set relationships." He said that "…There is always and expressive element underlying the music. Dramatic gestures are frequently involved in giving the music its direction and form". Marek believed that the teaching of music theory and the analysis of music for his students and classes had been an important element in shaping his style. Performing in orchestras and other ensembles, and conducting and arranging for such groups, provided background and skills in handling instruments and voices. His interest in creativity and in using and manipulating sounds were the basic factors contributing to his list of works and in his process of music composition.


34.5 Linear Feet (17 document boxes and 13 flat oversize boxes)

Language of Materials



The Robert C. Marek papers contain material from his time at the University of South Dakota as a music professor.


The collection is roughly organized into eight series: Original Compositions; Arrangements; Transcriptions; Correspondence, subject files, and miscellaneous; Compositions by other composers; Compositions-Oversize; Arrangements-Oversize; and Transcriptions-Oversize.

Robert C. Marek papers
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USD Archives and Special Collections Repository