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Allen Forte Treatise Collection

Identifier: FSUML-2020-015


  • 1715 - 1894


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to all researchers. Users may access this collection by making an appointment with the Music Special Collections staff at

Biographical / Historical

Forte was a music theorist and musicologist who taught at Yale University for over forty years. He was the founding president of the Society of Music Theory, and was an enthusiastic advocate for the field. Forte's book, The Structure of Atonal Music, is considered to be a seminal text for music theory and analysis studies in the 20th century.

Forte was born on Dec. 23 1926 in Portland, Oregon. During World War II he served in the American Navy from 1944 to 1946 on the U.S.S. General Butner in the Pacific. A graduate of Columbia University, where he earned both his B.A. and M.A. degrees, Forte joined the Yale faculty as an instructor in music theory after teaching at the Columbia University Teachers College. He became a full professor in 1968 and assumed the Battell Professorship in 1991. He was director of graduate studies from 1970 to 1977 and director of undergraduate studies from 1995 to 1996. During his 44 years at Yale, he advised 72 Ph.D. students.

Forte was the general editor of the Yale University Press series “Composers of the Twentieth Century” for more than two decades. He served for seven years as the editor of the Journal of Music Theory, and was on the advisory boards of The Musical Quarterly and Music Analysis. Forte’s papers are housed in the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library at Yale. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Forte received numerous other honors, including fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Society for Music Theory awarded him its First Lifetime Membership in 1995, and the Eastman School of Music gave him an honorary Doctor of Music degree in 1978. A 1997 book of essays titled “Music Theory in Concept and Practice,” edited by David Beach, Jonathan Bernard and James Baker, was dedicated to the Yale professor. Forte also taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Yale Summer School of Music and Art, and the Eastman School of Music. He was a visiting lecturer at Columbia University and the University of British Columbia, and he served on four different occasions as director of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College Teachers. This collection reflects the breadth and depth of Forte’s scholarly activities, and was acquired throughout his time at Yale. He began collecting music treatises in the early 1950's, and acquisition continued over the next two decades. The collection was offered for sale as a whole in the spring of 1998, and was acquired by the Warren D. Allen Music Library in August of that year.


67 items : Collection has 49 titles with 67 total volumes.

Language of Materials






There are 49 titles in the collection, arranged by author, representing 67 volumes and dating from 1715 to 1894. (Items 21, 23, 26, 29, 30, 32, 36, 41, and 49 represent more than one volume.) Following each listing is the call number of each item.

  • Music theory Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Musicology Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
Allen Forte Treatise Collection
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Allen Music Library Special Collections Repository

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