A Guide to the Julia Smith Papers, 1965-1967
Julia Frances Smith was born in Denton, Texas, on January 25; sources give the year of her birth as 1905 or 1911. She began her musical training in Dallas and Fort Worth and studied at St. Mary’s Institute of Musical Art in Dallas. In 1930 she earned a B.A. degree from North Texas State Teachers College (now the University of North Texas), where she composed the school's Alma Mater. She also attended the Julliard School of Music in New York (1932-1939), studying piano, composition, and orchestration and earning a diploma. She earned her Master’s degree (1933) and Ph.D. (1952) from New York University.
Smith performed as a pianist and taught, wrote, and lectured on musical subjects. Her compositions include several operas, symphonic works, piano works, chamber music, choral works, and songs. Her tone poem Remember the Alamo was commissioned by Lt. Cmdr. Anthony A. Mitchell, leader of the U.S. Navy Band, for the band’s inaugural concert of 1965. Composed in collaboration with Cecile Vashaw, the work was dedicated to President Lyndon B. Johnson and had its premiere on 1965 January 15 at the Departmental Auditorium in Washington, D.C. The seed of the composition was planted during a 1954 visit to the Alamo, when Smith copied the 1836 letter of William B. Travis beginning “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the world.” Working via mail and telephone with Vashaw, then director of music for public schools in Toledo, Ohio, Smith incorporated familiar melodies such as “Will You Come to the Bower?” and “Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie” into the ten-minute work, which featured narration of the Travis letter.
Smith married New York engineer and inventor Oscar A. Vielehr on 1938 April 23; the couple lived in New York and Denton. Smith's compositions and writings were published under her maiden name. She died on 1989 April 27 in New York City.
Julia Smith biographical file, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.
Julia Smith Papers, 1965-1967, Col 918, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.
McAdams, Ina May Ogletree. Texas Women of Distinction. Austin, Texas: McAdams Publishers, 1962.
Who’s Who of American Women. Chicago: A. N. Marquis Co., 1958.
Wolz, Larry. "Julia Frances Smith." Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsmrj.
Musical scores, printed material, photographs, and a letter make up the Julia Smith Papers, the material associated with the composition and performance of Smith’s Remember the Alamo. The composition is represented by a published score, a complete set of parts for symphonic band, and a photocopy of the manuscript conductor’s score. Printed material includes programs from the premiere performance of the work in 1965 and a later performance in Texas; program notes for the composition; newspaper clippings related to the work; biographical material on Smith; and a certificate from the U.S. Navy Band, which performed its premiere. Photographs of Smith; Anthony A. Mitchell, leader of the Navy Band; and the band itself are included. A photocopy of a letter from Lyndon B. Johnson to Mitchell conveys the President’s appreciation for the work.
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[Identification of item], Julia Smith Papers, 1965-1967, Col 918, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.
Gift of Julia Smith, 1968 March.
Processed by Warren Stricker, 1997 April.
Finding aid edited and encoded by Caitlin Donnelly, 2011 February.
Detailed Description of the Collection