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Lehigh University Music Festival 1949

Identifier: SC Photo -0006

Scope and Contents

This collection contains 96 8” x 10” black-and-white photographs and a scrapbook. Several of the photographs have the photographer’s name, phone number, and address stamped on the back. Both photographers cited listed dormitory addresses. Herbert A. Kynor, Jr. was the director of still and motion picture photography for the festival and graduated from Lehigh in 1947. The second photographer, Donald De Lorenzo, graduated from Lehigh in 1953. The photographs depict the process of developing the festival including images of faculty, students, and other performers building the set, doing electrical work, operating photographic and stage equipment, directing, editing, rehearsing, and performing. The scrapbook consists mainly of local newspaper clippings, however it also contains articles from two national publications: Educational Music Magazine and Musical Advance. The scrapbook also contains several Lehigh University publications, a script, programs, tickets, forms, and other ephemera.


  • Creation: 1948-1950

Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

In the spring of 1948 Ralph Schwarz, a student at Lehigh University with stage production experience gained in the Army, collaborated with William Schempf, Lehigh’s music director, to produce an event that would take advantage of the many talents of the university’s students. The school’s marching band, glee club, Collegian dance band, and the Moravian College glee club, with the assistance of a great number of students and faculty, came together to perform the first Lehigh Music Festival in Grace Hall. The 1948 event was well received. In previous years, the university’s glee club would simply perform on the stage of a local auditorium. Schwarz had a vision that included interpreting the music with, “lights, color, gymnasts, marching soldiers – a mood to express each score.” To accomplish his objectives, he relied not only on the talents of his performers, but also on the technological abilities of Lehigh’s engineering students. Some examples of the technology employed in the 1948 production include the use of steam to create a “steam curtain” between the performers and the audience and the deployment of an 1,800 square foot rear projection screen dyed with a florescent medium that was produced by a local mill.

Coverage of the 1948 festival was featured in the national media and the school was determined to produce an even more elaborate production in 1949. Schwarz and Schempf each assumed their previous roles in the production. The festival was divided into three parts. The first part, titled “Bach to Bop,” featured 21 songs in a variety of styles including the American debut of Romanian composer Niku Chircoulescu’s Boolia Bashka. The second part, titled, “Glory of Lehigh,” coupled 17 songs with the projection of photographs depicting different aspects of Lehigh history and academic life. The third part was titled “Man Would Be Free.” This ambitious number, based on Study of History by Princeton University historian Arnold J. Toynbee, featured narration adapted from the work by Lehigh Associate Professor of History William A. Aiken. Schempf created a musical score to help interpret the historical and philosophical ideas of the work which, according to the program, examines “challenges to freedom in an attempt to discover what our answer should be to the struggle between East and West – between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A.”

Some of the more notable technical features of the 1949 festival included adapting a large-scale projector with a cooling system which employed a blower from a vacuum cleaner and a water bath, developing a studio in Drown Hall to create slides for projection, and building a projection screen with pivoting panels that was capable of showing slides with a three-dimensional effect. Students also created a “nitrogen curtain” that sprayed liquid nitrogen from the ceiling to create a heavy mist timed to blend with other effects to enhance various parts of the program.

By all accounts the festival was a rousing success, entertaining thousands with a creative blend of music, photography, dance, narration, and special effects. Success, however, was not measured just by the audience’s response to the production. The Lehigh Alumni Bulletin reported that, “The men of Lehigh had learned a lesson in cooperation and teamwork. They had found that each occupation has its appointed place in society and that each must function with the rest if any measure of success is to be achieved.”

Biographical / Historical

Ralph G. Schwarz produced and directed the 1949 Lehigh Music Festival at Lehigh University. Schwarz received a B.A. in mechanical engineering and international relations (1948) and an M.A. in history (1951) from Lehigh University, and a Doctor of Humanities from Indiana State University in 1974. He also studied at the Sorbonne and the University of Vienna. During World War II he helped direct large-scale shows for the army and he directed a stage show in Paris to complete his dramatic course at the Sorbonne.

Schwarz also organized the 1948 Lehigh Music Festival during his senior year at Lehigh. After graduation, he was hired as an assistant on the staff of the dean to head the festival organization. He subsequently enlisted more than 1,000 Lehigh students and faculty to develop the 1949 festival.


1 Linear Feet (2 Boxes)


Lehigh University Music Festival Collection (1949) contains 96 photographs and a scrapbook primarily devoted to the 1949 festival, although several clippings describing the 1948 and 1950 festivals are also included in the collection. The festival was produced by the students and faculty of Lehigh University, with participation from students of local colleges and other performers. The photographs depict the process of developing and performing the production. The scrapbook consists mainly of newspaper clippings, a script, programs, tickets, forms, and other ephemera.The collection was acquired by Lehigh University’s Special Collections in July 2007.


The Lehigh Music Festival - 1949 collection, as originally received, contained three consecutively-numbered albums of photographs accompanied by a scrapbook. The photographs were removed from the albums, placed in protective sleeves, and organized by the order they were arranged in the first album, followed by the second album, and then the third. Each photograph is coded with the collection number, the original album number, and a consecutive number representing the original order. The scrapbook is housed separately.

Lehigh University Music Festival 1949SCPhoto.0006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)