Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the John Coltrane Music Manuscript

Collection ID:
Guernsey's New York, New York
Coltrane, John, 1926-1967
Physical Description:
1 Item
1 folder
The original manuscript for Coltrane's composition
A Love Supreme

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The music manuscript is the original 1964 manuscript of A Love Supreme, a work that exalts the greatness, power, and love of God. The collection includes handwritten music, doodles, lyrics, and notes. A Love Supreme is thought to be one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
John Coltrane was born September 23, 1926 in Hamlet, North Carolina. Surrounded and influenced by music from a young age, Coltrane trained in Philadelphia at Granoff Studios and the Ornstein School of Music. He went on to play in the U.S. Navy Band when he was called to military service during World War II.
When the war was over, Coltrane played with the likes of Jimmy Heath, the Eddie "CleanHead" Vinson Band, and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1958, he joined the Miles Davis Quintet and became famous for his three-on-one chord approach and "sheets of sound," a method of playing multiple notes a one time.
Coltrane formed his own quartet by 1960 with pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones, and bassist Jimmy Garrison. It was with this group that he created his famous A Love Supreme, a work that discusses the greatness, power, and love of God. Coltrane believed that everyone should contribute positively to the world, and his way of doing so was creating positive thought patterns through his music.
Coltrane accumulated much recognition throughout his career, including a posthumous 1982 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Solo Performance for "Bye Bye Blackbird" and the organization's esteemed Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1995, he was honored by the United States Postal Service with a commemorative postage stamp. He also has a street named on the Universal Studios lot in his honor. Coltrane's former home has been turned into a National Historic Landmark to commemorate his influence on American culture.
Coltrane died of liver disease in July 1967. His music is still heard today in various avenues of popular culture, including movies and television shows. Coltrane and his wife Alice had one child, Ravi, a prominent jazz saxophonist.

Kiley Orchard
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection purchased at auction, 2005.
Processing Information
Collection processed by Kiley Orchard (intern); supervised by Vanessa Broussard Simmons, 2008.

Digital Content

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Copy available for general research use. Original manuscript available by special request.
Preferred Citation
John Coltrane Music Manuscript, 1964, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center
William Claxton Photographs, 1955-1960 (NMAH.AC.0695)
Audrey Wells "Women in Jazz" Radio Series, 1981-1982 (NMAH.AC.0899)

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Music -- 20th century -- United States Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Manuscripts -- Music -- 1960-1970 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jazz Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
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