Guide to the Papers of Fela Sowande, 1932 - 1978Manuscript MS-78

Full Finding Aid


Guide to the Papers of Fela Sowande, 1932 - 1978

Call Number:

Manuscript MS-78

Collection Dates:

1932 - 1978

Size of Collection:

2 boxes (.75 linear ft.)


Fela Sowande (1905-1987), Nigerian musician and composer. The papers contain photocopies of research materials, essays and drafts of essays on African and Afro-American music, including comments on Albert Schweitzer's "Philosophy of Civilization."

Access to Collection:


Use & Access

The materials represented in this guide may be accessed through the Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College. Rauner Library is located in Webster Hall. The materials must be used on-site and may not leave Rauner Library.

Rauner Special Collections Library is open to the public and in most cases no appointment is necessary. The exception is in the case of materials stored off site for which there may be a delay of up to 48 hours in retrieval. Please consult the Access to Collection statement below or contact Rauner Reference.

Access to Collection


Publication & Use

Permission from Dartmouth College required for publication or reproduction.

Introduction to the Collection

The papers of Fela Sowande contain photocopies of research materials, essays and drafts of essays on African and Afro-American music, including comments on Albert Schweitzer's "Philosophy of Civilization."


Fela Sowande (Olufela Obafunmilayo Sowande) wad born in Nigeria in 1905. In 1934, he went to London to study European classical and popular music. In 1936, Sowande was solo pianist in a performance of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." He also played as duo-pianist with Fats Waller, and was theatre organist for the BBC as organist and Choirmaster at Kingsway Hall, London and as pianist in the 1936 production of "Blackbirds." He also played organ in some recordings by Dame Vera Lynn. Later, he studied organ privately under Edmund Rubbra, George Oldroyd, and George Cunningham and became a fellow of the Royal College of Organist in 1943. Sowande also won several prizes and obtained a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of London and became a fellow of Trinity College of Music. During World War II he worked as musical advisor for the Colonial Film Unit of the Ministry of Information, providing background music for educational films. From 1945-1952, Sowande was an organist and choirmaster at the West London Mission of the Methodist Church. Western and African ideas prevail in his music. Sowande's orchestral works include "Six Sketches for Full Orchestra," "A Folk Symphony," and "African Suite for string orchestra," and show African rhythmic and harmonic characteristics. He died in 1987 in Ohio.

Box & Folder List

Box: 1, Dates: 1932-1975

Access Restrictions


Box Contents

  • Folder: 1, "Asiatic Mythology" - Excerpts, 1932
  • Folder: 2, Schweitzer's "Philosophy of Civilization" - Excerpts, 1949
  • Folder: 3, "Art and Dance" - Excerpt, 1961
  • Folder: 4, "The Patient Ass" - Excerpt, 1966
  • Folder: 5, Six papers on Aspects of Nigerian Music, 1967
  • Folder: 6, "Why Do They Want to Get Away From Their Roots?", 1967
  • Folder: 7, African Studies and the Black American in 1968, undated
  • Folder: 8, Role of Music in African Society, 1969
  • Folder: 9, African Religion and Philosophy, 1970
  • Folder: 10, Black Experience of Religion, 1970
  • Folder: 11, Cipher and Genesis - Reprint, 1970
  • Folder: 12, Szent-Gyoergyi's "Crazy Ape" - Reprint, 1970
  • Folder: 13, African Traditional Music, 1971
  • Folder: 14, Creative Radicals, 1971
  • Folder: 15, Black Folklore, 1971
  • Folder: 16 , Educational Problem of Today, 1971
  • Folder: 17, Teaching of African Music, 1971
  • Folder: 18, Theory and Method, 1971
  • Folder: 19, Africanization of Black Studies, 1972
  • Folder: 20, Diagrams, 1972
  • Folder: 21, Philosophy and Aesthetics of Music, 1972
  • Folder: 22, Book List, circa 1974
  • Folder: 23, Ethnomusicology, 1974
  • Folder: 24, "Life Styles in Encounter", 1974
  • Folder: 25, The Quest of an African World View, 1974
  • Folder: 26, Quo Vadis, 1974
  • Folder: 27, Love and Humans, 1975

Box: 2, Dates: 1975-1978

Access Restrictions


Box Contents

  • Folder: 1, Standard Rules for the Student, 1975
  • Folder: 2, Mid-Week-Reconnaissance, 1977
  • Folder: 3, Traditional African Music, 1978
  • Folder: 4, Subsidiary Paper: "African Religion and Philosophy", 1978
  • Folder: 5, Supplement: Power of the Will, 1978
  • Folder: 6, Acculturation in Music, undated
  • Folder: 7, African Music in Nigeria, undated
  • Folder: 8, Earth and Its Cycles, undated
  • Folder: 9, Meditation and Art, undated
  • Folder: 10, Nigerian Music and Musicians: Then and Now, undated
  • Folder: 11, Notes on Spiral Evolution, undated
  • Folder: 12, Schweitzer on Civilization, undated
  • Folder: 13, Correspondence, undated
  • Folder: 14, Photograph, undated

Finding Aids