Skip to main content


Special Collections Online at The University of Tennessee

Alfred L. Schmied Papers

Identifier: AR-0440

This collection houses Alfred L. Schmied's office and personal files. These materials document the University of Tennessee's Department of Music between 1945 and 1974 as well as Schmied's early career in music from 1926.


  • 1926-1974

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.


4.5 Linear Feet


This collection consists of papers belonging to Alfred Leo Schmied, piano professor at the University of Tennessee from 1947-1977 and head of the Music Department from 1952-1972. Schmied was a member of several national music organizations and was educated by world-renowned instructors. He himself was renowned for his nationally-recognized excellence in piano and his legacy in music education.

Biographical/Historical Note

Alfred Leo Schmied was born in Michigan on September 1, 1907 to German immigrants, Paul and Katherine Schmied. He spent a great deal of his young life in St. Louis, Missouri, where he graduated from William Cullen McNeill High School in 1926. He studied with Rudolph Ganz at the Denver School of Music in 1928; Ganz was conductor of the St. Louis Symphony during Schmied's adolesence. Schmied spent the summer of 1930 at the American Conservatory in Chaumant, France, also known as the Fontainebleau School. Here, he studied with Nadia Boulanger and Camille Decreus, both world-renowned music educators and performers who routinely worked aside composers such as Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, and Camille Saint-Saens. When Schmied returned to the United States, he met Virginia Rose Gits from Chicago and they married in 1937. They later had a son named after Schmied's father, Paul. He worked as a piano instructor at the St. Louis Institute of Music until 1944. He took up a full-time piano professor position at the University of Tennessee around 1947, where he and his family subsequently moved. There, as the School of Music grew under the leadership of David Van Vactor, Schmied took on increasingly vital roles to the university. Once Van Vactor retired as the head of the School of Music, he took up the directorship in 1952. With Schmied as director, the first master's degree programs were offered, the first UT opera was performed, the School of Music became its own department separate from Fine Arts, and a Music Library was established. Schmied retired in 1972, but continued to teach piano at the university. Later that year, he injured his finger in a woodworking accident and relearned to play with nine fingers. During his later career, Schmied also took up composing, having published a short, three-movement piece for two pianos as well as drafting out an unpublished orchestral suite. Alfred Leo Schmied passed away at age 74 on April 25, 1982, and is buried in Calvary Catholic Cemetary in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Collection consists of seven boxes.

Acquisition Note

This collection was transferred to University Archives.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA