Charles H. Bennett

Charles Bennett

Physical description:

This collection consists of 1 document case and 4 manuscript boxes. Included are paper materials, music manuscripts and photographs.

Biographical sketch

Charles H. Bennett, well known baritone and composer, was born in Bennington, VT in 1876. He was the son of Edward Dewey Bennett (1843-1912) and Eliza Sophronia (Cushman) Bennett (1854-1897). After graduating as salutatorian from Bennington High School in 1894, he went on to study voice at Harvard University and New England Conservatory. In 1898 Bennett went to Paris where he studied with Ange-Pierre Trabadelo. Two years later he moved to London where he sang professionally for eight years. He was very successful, and even performed for the royal family at Sandringham (under King Edward VII). Bennett then embarked upon a two year performing tour around the world after which he settled in Boston. Bennett taught on the voice faculty of the New England Conservatory from 1910 until his death in 1927.

Also a composer, among Bennett's compositions were many songs and music for student productions at NEC. His most famous composition, though, was the cantata The Lady of Shalott which won first prize in the National Federation of Music Clubs competition in 1925. With the exception of the Lady of Shalott and a few piano pieces, most of Bennett's published compositions are songs for voice and piano including The Guitar Player, Hawaiian Love Song, Home Lights, Japanese Night Song, One Star, Serenade, When You Go and Wild Geese. Bennett served for many years as one of the principal soloists at Trinity Church in Boston. Bennett was married to, Genevieve (Langton) Bennett and they had two children, Elizabeth and Margaret.


This collection was donated to the NEC Archives in January 2018 by Bennett’s granddaughters, Caroline Howard and Rebecca Perham. In addition to the collection, the family also donated the money to purchase a lovely display case which sits outside the Archives and Special Collections area of the NEC library.


Access to the Charles H. Bennett papers can be arranged by making an appointment with the Archivist. There are no access restrictions pertaining to this collection.


Copyrights to the Bennett Papers, with the exception of any published music, are owned by NEC. Permission to publish must be granted by the NEC Archivist. The Bennett family must be notified of any performances of Bennett’s music taking place. Citations of this collection should read: NECA 19.18. Charles H. Bennett Papers, New England Conservatory Archives, Boston, MA.

Scope and Content Note:

The Charles H. Bennett Papers, which date from 189?-1927, are organized into the following eight series:

  1. Articles/Biographical materials
  2. Correspondence
  3. Programs
  4. NEC Materials
  5. Compositions
  6. Photographs
  7. Scrapbooks
  8. Miscellaneous

The first series includes a wide range of biographical materials including articles, press quotes; information about performance tours, his marriage, a composition prize, and a Boston University course catalog. There are also a few items in memory of Bennett. There is also a book written about Charles Bennett by his grandmother, Margaret Cushman Bennett, entitled Through a Grandmother's Covered Glasses.

The second series includes correspondence from Windsor Castle, Herbert Withers, Trinity Church, Antoinette Adamowski, Curtis Brown, Arthur Foote and the National Federation of Music Clubs. There is a second folder of correspondence written to Mrs. Bennett after Charles' death in 1927.

The third series contains programs on which Bennett performed as a vocalist. Some examples include: the State Normal School in Lowell MA; Bechstein Hall, Calvary Choral Society, the Cathedral School in Shanghai, Aeolian Hall, King Cole Club, Boston Symphony Ensemble and the League of Mercy.

The NEC series contains a program that includes a performance of Bennett's pantomime, The Willow Wife, from 1917. Also included is a copy of the 1927 yearbook, the Neume, as well as a copy of an obituary that appeared in the New England Conservatory Bulletin.

Series 5 is the largest series in this collection and is comprised of Bennett's own compositions, the most well known of which is the cantata entitled, The Lady of Shalott. This work won the 1925 prize for best composition from the National Federation of Music Clubs.

The Photographs series is fairly small, mainly featuring images of family and everyday life. There are two professionally done photos of Bennett in costume for performances and one image of the Trinity Church Choir. There is also a beautiful photograph of Henrietta Langdon, Bennett's wife

There are two scrapbooks in this collection, the first (labeled by the family as #2) contains materials from the years 1910-1923; the other covers the years from 1924 until Bennett's death in 1927. For the most part, these scrapbooks contain concert programs, many from NEC. Bennett performed several pieces composed by NEC Director at that time, George W. Chadwick.

The Miscellaneous series contains a few scrap papers with music on them, a ruler, an 1892 pocket calendar and what looks like some sort of briefcase that had belonged to Bennett. 

Container list:

Series 1: Articles/Biographical materials

Box 1 – Folder 1
Articles/Biographical materials, 1907-1926
Box 1 – Folder 2
Articles/Biographical materials, 1927
Box 1 – Folder 3
Articles/Biographical materials, Margaret Bennett’s book

Series 2: Correspondence

Box 1 – Folder 4
Correspondence, 1907-1926 and n.d.
Box 1 – Folder 5
Correspondence, 1927, posthumous

Series 3: Programs

Box 1 – Folder 6
Programs, not Bennett’s music

Series 4: NEC materials

Box 1 – Folder 7
NEC materials

Series 5: Compositions

Box 1- Folder 1
Ah sad
Box 2 - Folder 2
Ask Me No more
Box 2 - Folder 3
Auld Rubin Gray
Box 2 - Folder 4
Box 2- Folder 5
Box 2 - Folder 6
Cross the Bar
Box2 - Folder 7
Evening is Falling Asleep
Box2 - Folder 8
Fair Ines
Box 2 - Folder 9
Fond Kiss
Box 2 - Folder 10
Forest Lullaby
Box 2 - Folder 11
Four Songs
Box 2 - Folder 12
Green Goddess
Box 2 - Folder 13
Box 2- Folder 14
Guide Me O Thou Great Jehova
Box2 - Folder 15
The Guitar Player
Box 2 - Folder 16
The Harper
Box 2 - Folder 17
Hawaiian Love Songs
Box 2 - Folder 18
Home Lights
Box2 - Folder 19
Japanese Night Song
Box 2 - Folder 20
Lady of Shalott
Box 2 - Folder 21
Lake Isle
Box 2 - Folder 22
Box 2 - Folder 23
Mass in D minor
Box 2 - Folder 24
Melodie in F
Box 2 - Folder 25
My Way's Cloudy Widow Malone

Box 3 - Folder 1
Night Wind
Box 3 - Folder 2
O Sing Unto the Lord
Box 3 - Folder 3
Old Gaelic Lullaby
Box 3 - Folder 4
One Star
Box 3 - Folder 5
Box 3 - Folder 6
Overture in Japan
Box 3 - Folder 7
Phantoms Piano Quartet
Box 3 - Folder 8
Queen Midnight
Box 3 - Folder 9
The Rose

Box 4 - Folder 1
Box 4 - Folder 2
Six Songs
Box 4 - Folder 3
Sonata in Db
Box 4 - Folder 4
A Song
Box 4 - Folder 5
Song of Life
Box 4 - Folder 6
Song Without Words
Box 4 - Folder 7
Suite for Small Orchestra
Box 4 - Folder 8
Suite for Violin, Viola and Cello
Box 4 - Folder 9
Te Deum
Box 4 - Folder 10
Three Loves
Box 4 - Folder 11
To a Brook
Box 4 - Folder 12
To Julia
Box 4 - Folder 13
Vital Spark of Heavenly Home
Box 4 - Folder 14
Waken Lord and Ladies Gay
Box 4 - Folder 15
When You Go
Box 4 - Folder 16
Wild Geese
Box 4 - Folder 17
Willow Wife
Box 4 - Folder 18
Within the Little House
Box 4 - Folder 19

Series 6: Photographs

Box 5 - Folder 1

Series 7: Scrapbooks

Box 5 - Folder 2
Scrapbook 2:  1924-1927
Box 5 - Folder 3
Scrapbook 1: 1910-1923

Series 8: Miscellaneous

Box 5 - Folder 4
Miscellaneous papers, artifacts