One of the strengths of the Emily Dickinson Collection at Amherst College is the large number of manuscript fragments — scraps of paper, pieces of envelopes, and a range of other ephemera on which Dickinson jotted a few lines, or even entire poems. One such fragment is identified by Thomas Johnson as “Prose Fragment #96” in his edition of Dickinson’s letters. It’s Amherst manuscript #868: “Of our deepest delights”
This fragment is clearly a piece of a concert program, but no one seems ever to have done the work to find out more about this piece. Fortunately, there is an important clue present on both sides of the paper:
If the program had been torn in half just a little higher up the page, the name Howard Parkhurst might have been lost. As it is, a quick check of the Amherst College Biographical Record (Sesquicentennial Edition, 1973) reveals that he was a member of the Class of 1873. It also tells us that he studied music in Stuttgart, Munich, and Berlin as well as Liverpool between 1873 and 1875. From 1875 – 1882 he taught music and served as organist for various churches around Boston, then it was back to Germany for a couple of years to study with Rheinberger and Kellarmann. Finally, Parkhurst settled in New York city where he taught music and published books about birds from 1884 until his death in 1916.