Ethelbert Woodbridge Nevin was born in Edgeworth near Sewickley in the suburb of Pittsburgh on November 25, 1862, and died in New Haven at the age of 38 on February 17, 1901. He started his musical lessons with local musicians and published his first composition at the age of 12. In 1878, he attended Western University (now University of Pittsburgh) but left at the end of his freshman year in 1879. Between 1882-3 he studied piano with B.J. Lang and composition with Stephen A. Emery in Boston.
Between 1884-6 he went to Berlin to study piano with Karl Klindworth and theory with Otto Tiersch. In December 1886, he gave his professional piano recital debut in Pittsburgh and was enthusiastically received. From 1887 till his death in 1901, he spent most of his life working as a pianist and composer outside of Pittsburgh, living in various places in the New England area and in Europe. He was recognized as one of the four major composers in Pennsylvania as well as one of the major American composers. His compositions mostly consisted of songs and piano works, among which the best known works were the short pieces, including "The Rosary," "Mighty Lak' a Rose," and "Narcissus."
The Ethelbert Nevin Collection was acquired by the University of Pittsburgh between 1933 and 1956. The materials were either purchased or donated by Mrs. Ethelbert Nevin, other family members, and friends. Until 1999 it was housed in the Theodore M. Finny Music Library. It now resides in the Center for American Music.
The collection consists of original manuscripts, letters, mementos, furnishings, printed matter, and special gifts. It has been organized into the following categories:
Articles about Nevin
A complete catalogue of the collection was compiled in 1987 by Ying-fen Wang. A revised version of the catalogue was compiled by Brandi Neal in 2006 and is available upon request.