Collection of De Paur Chorus Materials
618 South Michigan
Chicago, Illinois 60605
Phone: (312) 369-7586
Extent: .42 Linear Feet
Leonard de Paur (1914–1998) received his musical education at Columbia University and the Institute of Musical Arts. In 1932, he became the associate conductor of the Hall Johnson Choir, and in 1936 he became the director of the New York City Negro Unit of the Federal Theatre. In 1942, de Paur joined the armed forces and was soon assigned as the musical director of the Army Air Force show, “Winged Victory.” In the meantime, four members of the 372nd Regiment—Charles Ernie, Tommy Harris, Allen Ferguson, and Sidney Greenard—began singing together, and this group soon expanded into a glee club that provided entertainment for fellow GIs. In 1944, de Paur was assigned to direct the group, which took part in war bond rallies and radio programs. The group continued after the war and was renamed the De Paur Infantry Chorus (and subsequently, the De Paur Chorus). Touring the globe, the Chorus went on to become one of the leading choral groups in the United States and throughout the world until its disbandment in 1957. The group's repertoire included spirituals, songs of World War II, folk songs of other countries, and religious choral works. Perhaps the greatest contribution of the Chorus was the dignity and skill with which it presented the music of African Americans. De Paur reorganized the De Paur Chorus again in 1963, and this group toured extensively until 1969. De Paur received numerous awards for his contributions to music during his life. He is widely recognized as a significant figure in male choral music, as well as in African-American history and culture.
Scope and Content Note:
This collection of materials related to the De Paur Chorus is small and includes just two concert programs (with several autographs) and one clipping, but the photographs are more complete. The sound recordings reflect the variety found in their repertoire and have gone out of print. These materials complement other archival holdings highlighting African-American concert composers (both score and research collections), military music directors (see the Alton Augustus Adams Sr. papers), and the study of spirituals and work songs (see the Dena Epstein papers, among others).