MS 54 Nino Marcelli Music Collection

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
Marcelli, Nino
Nino Marcelli Music Collection
MS 54
Date [inclusive]
7.75 Linear feet (8 boxes)
Language of Materials
English; Spanish; Italian.
This collection contains records of the music career of Nino Marcelli, a nationally recognized musician, composer, arranger, and music teacher who worked in San Diego, CA from 1920 till his death in 1967.

Preferred Citation

Nino Marcelli Music Collection, MS 54, San Diego History Center Document Archives, San Diego, CA.

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Biographical / Historical Notes

Nino Marcelli was born in Rome, Italy in 1890. While still an infant, Marcelli moved with his family to Santiago, Chile. By the time he was 19, Marcelli was conducting the Santiago Symphony Orchestra, and was celebrated for his 1913 performance of the complete Beethoven symphonic cycle, a first in South America. In WWI Marcelli joined a medical unit. He went on to win a contest to become Conductor of the American Army Headquarters Band in Paris, France.

In 1920, Marcelli came to San Diego to take charge of the San Diego High School Orchestra. He brought the high school’s orchestra national recognition. To provide musical opportunities for San Diego’s musicians, Marcelli founded the Civic Symphony Orchestra in 1927, which later became the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. In the 1930s, Marcelli wrote the music for a “light opera” called Carmelita. Marcelli’s opera was published and distributed nationwide, and performed numerous times, including at the Ford Bowl in 1939 and at San Diego High in 1947. Despite his other commitments, Marcelli’s first priority was always his high school students, and in 1960 he was honored with the Mancini teaching award for the outstanding musical instruction of young people. Mr. Marcelli died in 1967 at the age of 77.

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Scope and Content

This collection contains records of the music career of Nino Marcelli. Records include correspondence, diplomas, programs from orchestras he conducted, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and some limited financial documents. There is an emphasis on his work in San Diego, particularly regarding Carmelita, his performances for the Organ Pavilion and Ford Bowl in the 1930s, and his work at San Diego High School and the San Diego Symphony. Additionally, this collection contains a series of musical scores composed by Marcelli.

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This collection is arranged in two series:

Series I: Music Career;

Series II: Music.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection March 22, 2017

1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession # 830510C and 981022.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Jennifer Paton in 2002 and Samantha Mills in 2017.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Civic Orchestra of San Diego.
  • San Diego High School Orchestra.
  • San Diego Oratorio Society.
  • San Diego Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • San Diego Symphony Orchestra.

Personal Name(s)

  • Marcelli, Nino


  • Composers
  • Music teachers
  • Musicians
  • Orchestral music
  • Orchestral music–20th century–Scores.

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Collection Inventory

 Series I: Music Career

Correspondence, 1935 January 1 – 1935 June 11


Letters regarding concerts in the Ford Motor Company programming at the California Pacific International Exposition. Also includes some billing information for same.

Correspondence, 1935 July 29 – 1936 May 28


Letters regarding concerts in the Ford Motor Company programming at the California Pacific International Exposition. Also includes some billing information for same.

Correspondence, 1938 August 31 – 1960 April 5


Letters regarding the Mancini Award, musical career, fan mail following performances, putting on a production of Carmelita, and congratulatory letters.

Diplomas and Awards, 1912-1960 5:2
Diplomas from Chile, 1912 5:3
Programs: Carmelita, 1939-1947 1:4
Programs: Civic Orchestra of San Diego, 1928-1930 1:5
Programs: Philharmonic Orchestra, 1927-1953 1:6
Programs: Radio Broadcasts, 1935-1936 1:7
Programs: San Diego High School Orchestra, 1925-1928 1:8
Programs: San Diego Oratorio Society, 1924-1931 and undated 1:9
Programs: San Diego Symphony Orchestra (Organ Pavilion), 1931-1934 1:10
Programs: San Diego Symphony Orchestra (Ford Bowl), 1935-1937 1:11
Programs: Miscellanea, 1927-1961 and undated 1:12
Scrapbook: “Memories of Art,” 1912-1930

Scope and Content

Predominantly newspaper clippings, plus some programs letters, and photos, regarding Marcelli’s work in Chile and the United States, the latter having an emphasis on the Oratorio Society and San Diego High School Orchestra. Articles in English, Spanish, and Italian.

Scrapbook: “Musical Happenings Book 2,” 1929-1933

Scope and Content

Articles, programs, and correspondence regarding Marcelli’s work in San Diego, with an emphasis on the San Diego High School Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestra, Civic Orchestra, and Balboa Park programs.

Scrapbook: “Musical Happenings: Book 3,” 1933-1949

Scope and Content

Articles and programs regarding Marcelli’s work in San Diego, with an emphasis on Balboa Park programs, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, and productions of Carmelita.

Scrapbook: “Attempts at Journalism,” 1931-1940

Scope and Content

Articles written by Marcelli in musical and Masonic publications.

Scrapbook: “A Little of This and a Little of That,” 1923-1957

Scope and Content

Miscellaneous articles, primarily regarding other musicians and composers.

Newspaper Articles, 1928-1980 1:13
Magazine Articles and Newsletters, 1935-1965 1:14
Biographical Essays, 1964-1983 and undated


“A Great Builder of Music,” by Philip Klauber; “Musings on Music” by Jack Vogel; and “Nino Marcelli: Father of a Symphony” by Roberta Ridgely (from San Diego Magazine).

Financial Records, 1925-1966


A ledger of royalties, a list of published works by Marcelli due to receive royalties, and San Diego Symphony payroll records from Ford Bowl events.

Miscellanea, 1930-1948 and undated


Two loose articles by Marcelli, a letter of introduction by Mayor Harley Knox, sketches of the set design for Carmelita, a sketch of Marcelli, and “Southern California Verse and Prose Vol. III.”


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 Series II: Music

Carmelita, 1939 2:3
Carmelita (in binder), undated 8:2
Carmelita (cassette tape), 1947 March 27 8:3
Marcelli Scores, 1924-1930 2:4
March Processional, 1948 2:5
Ode to a Hero, 1941-1948 2:6
Mummy’s Caprice, undated 2:7
The Marcelli Folio, 1939 2:8
Christmas Music, 1944-1945 2:9
Modern Graded School Orchestra Folio, undated 2:10
Marcelli’s Christmas Band Book, undated 3:1
Exercises from Rimsky Korsakv’s Practical Manual of Harmony, undated 3:2
Two Christmas Processional Marches, 1947 3:3
Music Box Minuet, 1946 and undated 4:1
Fuga per Soprano e Basso, undated 4:2
The Rout of the Philistines, undated 4:3
The Rout of the Philistines (bound book), undated 5:1
A Portrait of Beethoven, undated 4:4
Chanson Trieste, Tchaikovsky, undated 4:5
Marcelli’s Christmas Band Book, undated 4:6
Legend of the Andes, undated 8:1
Miscellanea, undated 4:7
Miscellaneous Compositions, undated 4:8
Miscellaneous Scores, undated 4:9
Miscellaneous Scores (by other composers), 1933 and undated 3:4
Music Educator Handbooks, 1932-1950 3:5

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