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Richard Toensing manuscripts and papers

Identifier: CoU-AMRC-104

Scope and Contents

The Richard Toensing manuscripts and papers comprise scores and professional materials encompassing Toensing’s career as a composer and teacher. The centerpiece of the collection is 21 boxes of scores spanning his entire career as a composer, from his 1964 Doxologies I (for Wind, Brass, and Percussion) to his final work Serene and Heavenly Bells (2014). Many of the scores are supplemented with data discs that include the Finale notation software files as well as PDF scans of Toensing’s work. Also included in the collection are concert programs and professional papers, including programs for numerous performances from the University of Colorado-Boulder and other festivals around the world, correspondence, awards, biographical information, concert reviews, photographs, audio recordings, and other papers that document Toensing’s time as professor at CU-Boulder.


  • Creation: 1964-2015

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish from the manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the American Music Research Center.

Biography of Richard Toensing

Richard Toensing (1940-2014) was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. He received a B.Mus. degree with honors from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota (1962), and M.M. (1963) and D.M.A. (1967) degrees in composition from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In 1966 Toensing began teaching at Uppsala College in East Orange, New Jersey and later joined the College of Music faculty at the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1973. At CU-Boulder he taught composition and music analysis and theory, and was the chair of the composition department from 1984-2001. At various times he directed the New Music Ensemble and Electronic Music Studio, and organized the University of Colorado Festival of New Music. Upon his retirement in 2005 as Professor of Composition he was named professor emeritus. During his time at CU, he also served as choir director at Atonement Lutheran Church (Boulder, CO), Grace Lutheran Church (Boulder, CO), and St. Luke’s Orthodox Church (Erie, CO).

Toensing wrote numerous choral, chamber, electronic, and orchestral works that explore a variety of compositional styles. Beginning in the late 1990s his compositions began to reflect his deep religious faith and interest in Orthodox Christian sacred music traditions. The influence of Russian Orthodox chant and Lutheran chorales can be heard throughout his compositions during that time. Perhaps his most significant work, the choral work Responsoria, is a setting of the three books of chanted Roman Catholic prayer services for Holy Week. One of Toensing’s final works was his contribution to The Psalm 103 Project, a collaboration between six Orthodox composers. He completed his section of the project in February 2014.

Toensing won numerous awards including three MacDowell Colony fellowships, the Joseph H. Bearnes Prize from Columbia University, two BMI student composer awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a commission from the National Endowment for the Arts. Contemporary music festivals have featured his work including the Aspen Music Festival, the International Contemporary Organ Festival, the International Wind Ensemble Conference, and the VII Foro Internacional de Musica Nueva. His music has been performed in notable venues such as Carnegie Hall, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Several recordings of his works have been released commercially, including complete performances of his Responsoria by the Choir at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields (North/South Recordings, 2000) and the Kontakion on the Nativity of Christ by Cappella Romana (Cappella Romana, 2008).


6.75 linear feet (; 24 boxes)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Richard Toensing manuscripts and papers

This collection is arranged in 4 series. The scores are arranged in 4 subseries by genre and alphabetically by title. Concert programs and notes are organized by category and chronologically by decade. Professional papers are organized by topic and audio recordings by title.

  1. Subseries 1. Chamber Music
  2. Subseries 2. Choral Music
  3. Subseries 3. Orchestral and Large Ensemble Music
  4. Subseries 4. Solo Music

Physical Location

Housed in the American Music Research Center

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Carol Toensing in 2017.


Processed and Encoded by:
Jenna Palensky and Benjamin Kammin
Date completed:
July, 2018
The Richard Toensing manuscripts and papers, 1940-2014
An inventory of holdings at the American Music Research Center
Conversion Draft
Jenna Palensky and Benjamin Kammin
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written inEnglish.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States