Publication Date

Spring 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Music and Dance


Erica Buurman

Subject Areas



Buried deep under the Spreckels Temple of music, the bandstand In San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, lay a treasure trove of sheet music and concert programs belonging to the Golden Gate Park Concert Band. This band, which has delighted audiences and park-goers in San Francisco for 140 years, had over a thousand scores and programs each waiting to be archived and preserved. From documents marked “Property of the WPA,” to handwritten letters from composers, to photographs of since forgotten events, these newly archived materials detail historic trends that shed light on San Francisco’s unique civic culture. Along with conventional critical research, the data paints a picture depicting civic history, developing class identities, and the cultural value of music in a highly tangible way. Thorough examining of the materials in the band’s archives, the thesis tracks some of San Francisco’s most prominent cultural trends, as seen along the lines of major historical events and eras including: the turn of the twentieth century, The Great Depression and World War Two, the post-war years, and the birth of the hippie counterculture in San Francisco. This case study provides a look at how musical ensembles forge not only an identity for themselves but exist as a reflection of the world around them.