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John LaPorta papers, 1940-2004

Identifier: BCA-001

Scope and Contents Note

The personal papers of American saxophonist, clarinetist, and educator John D. LaPorta (1920-2004), who taught at Berklee College of Music from 1959-1985. LaPorta’s papers include published and unpublished compositions and arrangements, teaching materials, correspondence, clippings, programs, assorted writings, photographs, awards, and performance recordings collected by LaPorta over the course of his career a performer and teacher. Audiovisual formats include CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, cassettes, and reel to reel tape of both live and recorded performances, as well as ear training and other pedagogical materials. These materials were compiled by his children, Karen Burnham, Donna Marks, John LaPorta Jr., and Jeannette McCarthy, after his death on May 12th, 2004.


  • 1940-2004



Collection is open for research by appointment. Advance notice is required for access because materials are stored offsite.

Audiovisual recordings have not been transferred. Patrons may view an item’s original container and/or carrier, but the recordings themselves are not available for playback due to preservation concerns. Patrons may request access to viewing/listening copies via onsite appointment, however recordings on obsolete formats may not be available. Contact Archives staff for further information.

Biographical Note

American saxophonist, clarinetist, and educator John Daniel LaPorta was born on April 13, 1920 in Philadelphia, PA. LaPorta earned his BS in clarinet (1956) and MME (1957) from the Manhattan School of Music, where he also taught before joining the faculty of the Berklee College of Music in 1959 (then the Berklee School of Music). LaPorta served on the Berklee faculty until 1985, and continued to help organize the College’s summer schools after his departure.

As a performer, LaPorta played with the big bands of Bob Chester (1942-1944), Woody Herman (1944-1946), and Herb Pomeroy (1976). In 1953, he was a founding member of the experimental Jazz Composers’ Workshop alongside musicians such as Teo Macero and Charles Mingus in New York. LaPorta also recorded with Lennie Tristano (1947) and pianist Bob Winter (1981), among others, as well as performing in a faculty saxophone quartet during his tenure at Berklee.

A prolific composer for professional and collegiate ensembles, LaPorta also authored a number of instructional workbooks and other teaching materials. He was a founding member of the National Association of Jazz Educators (later the International Association of Jazz Educators), which eventually awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award. LaPorta passed away on May 12, 2004 in Sarasota, FL. The materials in this collection (the John LaPorta papers) were compiled posthumously by his children Karen Burnham, Donna Marks, John LaPorta Jr., and Jeannette McCarthy and donated to Berklee College in March of 2011.


67 Cubic Feet (69 Boxes total: 45 file boxes, 9 small file boxes, 11 flat storage boxes, 4 plastic oversized boxes.)

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

This collection has been minimally processed in order to expedite access. The original thematic arrangement provided by the donor has been maintained, including original box numbers. Numerical gaps indicate duplicate materials were removed or condensed as necessary and added to the end of the series. A more detailed inventory is also available upon request.

Processed and encoded by: Sofía Becerra-Licha. This collection was processed with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.


John D. LaPorta papers, 1940-2004
Sofía Becerra-Licha
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
The arrangement and description of this collection was funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Revision Statements

  • 2022/03: In preparation for migration to ArchivesSpace, this finding aid was edited in the following ways: 1) Collection Date edited according to DACS 2) Compound identifier given for each file was assigned as a box number. 3) Extent statements at the file level removed. (Field was being used to describe container types. e.g. small file box or oversized plastic storage.

Repository Details

Part of the Berklee Archives Repository

Berklee College of Music
1140 Boylston St
Boston MA 02215 USA