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Charles L. Bestor papers

Identifier: CoU-AMRC-7

Scope and Contents

Personal papers of Charles L. Bestor (b. 1924), Composer and music educator, professor of composition, emeritus, University of Massachusetts; previously on the faculty of Willamette University (dean, college of music), Julliard School of Music, University of Utah, University of Alabama, and the University of Colorado; National Endowment of the Arts fellow, International Electro-Acoustic Music Competition winner, Macdowell Colony fellow. Works of the 12 tone technique, electronic media, and integrated jazz.


  • Creation: ca. 1950-2000

Language of Materials


Biography of Charles L. Bestor

Charles Lemon Bestor was born in New York City on December 21, 1924. He’s the son of Arthur Eugene Bestor and Jeanette Louise Lemon. He married Ann Newbold Elder on November 1, 1952. Their children are: Charles Elder, Geoffrey Grant, Phillip Russell, Leslie Ann, Wendy Lynn and Jennifer Lee.

Dr. Bestor received his musical training under Paul Hindemith at Yale University, and Vincent Persichetti and Peter Mennin at Julliard School of Music. He also studied at Swarthmore College and the Universities of Illinois and Colorado. Independently he studied electronic music with composer Vladimir Ussachevsky.

His early works primarily consisted of the 12 tone technique (dodecophonic) with grounding in Hindemith’s counterpoint technique. His later works employed electronic media, and he integrated jazz, tonaly based harmonic, melodic and rythmic elements into formal structures of traditional concert music.

Dr. Bestor was the winner of the 1999 Bourges International Electro-Acoustic Music Competition (France), the Musica Nova International Competition of the Czech Republic, and the Omaha Symphony’s International Orchestral Competition. He has also received numerous other awards in orchestral and composer competitions.

His works have been commissioned by the Utah and Salem Symphonies and the Five-College Symphony Orchestras, and numerous festivals, fraternities and individual performers. Dr. Bestor has also collaborated with visual artists, fine arts centers and museums in the production of installations and exhibits, held at the Illinois State Museum, the Chicago International Art Museum, the Virginia Museum and the College Music Society, and others.

Dr. Bestor served as faculty and administrator at Julliard School of Music for a decade and subsequently as Dean of the College of Music at Willamette University and as Head of the Music Departments of the Universities of Massachusetts, Utah, and Alabama. He has also taught at the University of Colorado and served as the Director of the Electronic and Computer Music Studios of the University of Massachusetts.

Dr. Bestor was a fellow of the National Educational Association of Composers, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Ragdale Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Tyrone Guthrie Center, Ireland.


2 linear feet


Scores and audio materials arranged by title

Physical Location

Housed in the American Music Research Center


Collection donated by the estate of Walter Orr Roberts

Charles L. Bestor Collection
An inventory of holdings at the American Music Research Center
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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