Alan Shulman papers

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Collection Data

The Alan Shulman papers document the life and work of an important composer, arranger and cellist. They include subject files, correspondence, photographs, concert programs, clippings and scores, and include documentation of Shulman’s experience playing with the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini.
Shulman, Alan (Creator)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1924 - 2005
Library locations
Music Division
Shelf locator: JPB 11-17
Allen, Steve, 1921-2000
Bankhead, Tallulah, 1902-1968
Casals, Pablo, 1876-1973
Daniel, Oliver
Feuermann, Emanuel, 1902-1942
Ginzburg, L. S. (Lev Solomonovich), 1907-1981
Heifetz, Jascha, 1901-1987
Henderson, Skitch, 1918-2005
Mitropoulos, Dimitri, 1896-1960
Rodzinski, Artur, 1892-1958
Shulman, Sylvan
Starker, Janos
Toscanini, Arturo, 1867-1957
Walter, Bruno, 1876-1962
National Orchestral Association (U.S.)
NBC Symphony Orchestra
Symphony of the Air
Violoncello Society
Biographical/historical: Alan Shulman was a composer, cellist and arranger. Born in Baltimore on June 4, 1915, his early studies were with Bart Wirtz (cello) and Louis Cheslock (harmony) at the Peabody Conservatory. In 1928 the family moved to New York, where Shulman played in the National Orchestral Association under Leon Barzin. He received a New York Philharmonic Scholarship, studying cello with Joseph Emonts and harmony with Winthrop Sargent. From 1932-1937, he attended the Juilliard School where he was a fellowship student, studying cello with Felix Salmond and composition with Bernard Wagenaar. While still a student, he composed music for the American Children's Theatre production of Hans Christian Anderson's The Chinese Nightingale (1934). He continued his studies of cello with Emanuel Feuermann, and of composition with Paul Hindemith. Shulman was the cellist of the Kreiner String Quartet (1935-38). Later, he and his brother, violinist/conductor Sylvan Shulman, co-founded the Stuyvesant String Quartet. During the 1940s and 1950s this group was noted for its performances and recordings of contemporary quartets of Bloch, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Malipiero, Hindemith and Kreisler, among others. In 1941 they played the American premiere of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet at Carnegie Hall (on a bill which included Benny Goodman), and recorded it for Columbia Records. Simultaneously with his Kreiner Quartet activities, Shulman was arranging and performing classical themes in a jazz style with an ensemble consisting of string quartet, bass, guitar and harp. The group, called the New Friends of Rhythm, recorded for RCA Victor and sold 20,000 records in 1939 and 1940. They recorded with Buster Bailey for Victor before World War II, and with Maxine Sullivan for International Records after the war. Shulman was a charter member of the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini from 1937-1942, served in the U.S. Maritime Service from 1942-1945, and rejoined NBC from 1948-1954. While in the Maritime Service, he taught orchestration to Nelson Riddle, who went on to write celebrated arrangements for Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat "King" Cole. After NBC disbanded the Symphony in 1954, he helped form and manage the group’s short-lived successor, the Symphony of the Air. During the 1930s and 1940s Shulman was active as an arranger for Leo Reisman, Andre Kostalanetz, Arthur Fiedler and Wilfred Pelletier's Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air. Later, Shulman worked with opera singer Risë Stevens, producing “crossover” arrangements for her which she recorded from 1945-1947. Shulman's first successful composition was Theme and Variations for Viola and Orchestra, which received its première over NBC in 1941 with Emanuel Vardi as soloist. The piece was recorded several times and is in the repertoire of most American viola soloists. Among his many successful compositions are the Suite on American Folk Songs (one movement of which, Cod Liver ‘Ile, was recorded by Jascha Heifetz); Waltzes for Orchestra, premiered by the NBC Symphony with Milton Katims conducting; Threnody (For the Fallen Soldiers of Israel), premiered by the NBC String Quartet in February, 1950; Rendezvous, written for Benny Goodman and recorded by Artie Shaw and Richard Stoltzman; and the Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra, premiered by Leonard Rose with the New York Philharmonic under Dimitri Mitropoulos. His Suite Miniature for Octet of Celli was written in 1956 for the Fine Arts Cello Ensemble of Los Angeles. In the 1950s, Shulman wrote popular songs with entertainer Steve Allen and arranged for Skitch Henderson, Raoul Poliakin and Felix Slatkin. During the 1960s and 1970s, Shulman was busy in recording and television studios, and composed teaching material and works for band including Three Faces of Glen Cove, Interstate 90, The Corn Shuckers and Mazatlan, and arranged for singer-songwriter Cris Williamson's debut recording on Ampex Records. Shulman founded the Violoncello Society in 1956 and was President from 1967 to 1972. He was cellist of the Philharmonia Trio (1962-1969), the Vardi Trio, An Die Musik (1976-1977), and the Haydn Quartet (1972-1982). Shulman taught cello at Sarah Lawrence College, Juilliard, SUNY-Purchase, Johnson State College (Vermont) and the University of Maine. He was made a Chevalier du Violoncelle by the Eva Janzer Cello Center at Indiana University in 1997. Shulman died on July 10, 2002. Sources: Margaret Campbell. "Shulman, Alan." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed September 22, 2011). "The Music of Alan Shulman." (accessed September 22, 2011).
Content: The Alan Shulman papers consist of the composer’s scores and personal files containing correspondence, concert programs, photographs, clippings, writings and posters. They include files documenting his time with the NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanini and his founding of the Violoncello Society. Among the figures appearing in the correspondence and/or photographs are Toscanini, Artur Rodzinski, Dmitri Mitropolous, Pablo Casals, Jascha Heifetz, Bruno Walter, and Talullah Bankhead. The papers contain full scores and parts for Shulman’s compositions, often from initial sketches to final scores and parts, many with performance notes. These include the Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra, Mood In Question, Theme and Variations for Cello and Chamber Orchestra, and Top Brass, among many others. Also among the scores are Shulman’s unpublished, jazz-influenced arrangements for string quartet; arrangements for string quartet with bass, guitar and harp recorded by the New Friends of Rhythm, as well as a few recorded with vocalist Maxine Sullivan; songs co-written with Steve Allen; and published cello music by other composers, with Shulman's annotations. The collection has a substantial audio component, as well as one visual item of interest: a 16mm film, labeled “A Day Off With Toscanini, River Tigre, Buenos Aires, Sylvan Shuman 1940.” The audio contains recordings of Shulman's music and arrangements. These include unpublished discs, open-reel tapes or cassettes of the following pieces: Interstate 90, The Corn Shuckers, Theme and Variations for Viola and Orchestra, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, A Laurentian Overture, The Three Faces of Glen Cove, Suite Miniature, Four Diversions, Waltzes for Orchestra, Hatikvah, Ripe for Plucking, Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, Suite Based on American Folk Songs (and an open-reel tape of Shulman’s arrangement of Benjamin Franklin’s String Quartet, on which that suite is based), Mood In Question, An Elizabethan Legend, Rendezvous, Ricky Tic Serenade, A Nocturne for Strings, Valse, Kol Nidre, Elegy In Memoriam - Felix Salmond, Tess’s Lament, Top Brass, Jazz Grab Bag, Popocatepetl, Suite for String Orchestra, Woodstock Waltzes, Popper H.S. #6, Suite for Solo Cello and Pastorale and Dance for Violin and Orchestra. There is a commercial disc release of Shulman’s song Too Late The Spring, performed by Barbara Mcnair, and one commercially released disc of an arrangement by Shulman, performed by Risë Stevens. There are many recordings of Shulman in performance with various groups. These include one unpublished disc, one published disc and three published open-reel tapes of the Stuyvesant Quartet; an unpublished open-reel tape of the Shulman brothers performing the Brahms Double Concerto; two unpublished discs of the New Friends of Rhythm, as well as three-open reel tapes and one cassette of that group (likely copied from discs); an open-reel tape of the Haydn-Sinfonia Concertante; two commercially released albums by the Symphony of the Air; one commercially released album by the Philharmonia Trio, as well as several open-reel recordings of the trio; five open-reel tapes of the Juilliard Quartet; several open-reel recordings of the 1972 Felix Salmond Memorial Concert; and two commercial disc releases by Felix Slatkin. There are two open-reel tapes of Violoncello Society concerts and two of the “Powerdermill Prevue” concerts held at Shulman’s home in Scarsdale, New York. There are also disc recordings and open-reel tapes of performances of Sylvan Shulman as either solo violinist or as conductor, both unpublished and commercially released, including many tapes of the Great Neck Symphony Orchestra. There are many unpublished discs and open-reel tapes that are either completely unlabeled or labeled with very little information other than date. Other discs and open-reel tapes contain content unrelated to Alan Shulman or his brother, or contain material copied from commercially-released discs. Shulman’s cassette collection contains many copies of commercially-released music, but also has possibly unique items such as the 1986 Cello Congress Gala closing concert and a performance at a Chicago Cello Society meeting in 1973. Inquiries regarding audio/visual materials in the collection may be directed to the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound ( Audio/visual materials will be subject to preservation evaluation and migration prior to access.
Physical Description
Extent: 13.92 linear feet (47 boxes)
Type of Resource
Still image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19337279
MSS Unit ID: 18412
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 20d6e6b0-8868-0136-178d-7fa89e2f2db7
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