Irving Kolodin Papers

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Collection Data

The Irving Kolodin Papers document the career of Irving Kolodin, music critic, author of several books and teacher at the Juilliard School. The collection dates from 1844 to 1986. In addition to Kolodin’s papers, dating from 1915-1986, there are also papers related to his patron, W. J. Henderson, and his close friend, Alfred Knopf. The collection includes personal and professional correspondence, personal papers, drafts, galleys and research and publicity material used in Kolodin’s books and articles, lecture notes and supporting teaching material, scores, photographs, and scrapbooks.
Kolodin, Irving, 1908-1988 (Creator)
Henderson, W. J. (William James), 1855-1937 (Creator)
Knopf, Alfred A., 1892-1984 (Correspondent)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1844 - 1986
Library locations
Music Division
Shelf locator: JPB 06-40
Music journalists
Music -- New York (State) -- 20th century -- History and criticism
Opera -- 20th century
Metropolitan Opera House (Organization : Philadelphia, Pa.)
galley proofs
lecture notes
Biographical/historical: Irving Kolodin was born in February 21, 1908 in New York City. He was the son of Benjamin and Leah (Geller) Kolodin. After completing his high school education in Newark, New Jersey and a year in Extension Courses at Columbia University, in 1926 Kolodin studied at the Institute of Musical Art, which later became part of the Juilliard School. He began working as an instructor at the same institution from 1929 until 1931, when he got his first assignment as music critic at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Soon after, in 1932, Kolodin joined the staff at The New York Sun under W. J. Henderson. He remained with The New York Sun until it was merged with the New York World-Telegram in 1950, advancing from assistant critic to music editor. Kolodin’s longest employer was the Saturday Review of Literature. In 1947 he began there as the editor of a monthly Recordings section, moving on to music reviews and feature articles, as well as his most popular and long-lasting column, Music to My Ears. In addition, he contributed to many other magazines and newspapers, including Newsday, and the New York Herald Tribune. Although the majority of Kolodin’s writings focus on classical music and opera, his articles cover a rich variety of subjects, ranging from jazz and popular music to dance. Kolodin was one of the first to focus on the newly emerging recorded music, following its development from phonograph records to compact discs. He wrote several articles on the subject, maintained relevant columns in both The New York Sun and the Saturday Review, and in 1941 published A Guide to Recorded Music, with subsequent revisions through 1951. He was also the author of Mozart on Records (1942), The Saturday Review Home Book of Recorded Music and Sound Reproduction (1952 and revised in 1956), and Orchestral Music (1955), part of a three-volume survey of long-playing recordings published by Alfred Knopf, Inc. Above all, Kolodin became famous for his authoritative works on the history of the Metropolitan Opera. The Metropolitan Opera: 1883-1935, published in 1936, was followed by a second edition, titled The Story of the Metropolitan Opera, 1883-1950: A Candid History (1953). It was further updated in 1966 and towards the end of his life he was working on a new edition in celebration of the Metropolitan Opera’s centennial, titled The Metropolitan Opera: Centennial Edition, 1966-1984. Other books by Kolodin include The Continuity of Music: A History of Influence (1969), The Interior Beethoven: A Biography of the Music (1975), The Opera Omnibus: Four Centuries of Critical Give and Take (1976), and In Quest of Music: A Journey in Time (1980). During the 1950s Kolodin collaborated with RCA Victor in the preparation of several albums, including a Critic's Choice album and a five-record set titled 50 Years of Great Operatic Singing. He also wrote program notes for the New York Philharmonic from 1953 to 1958, and in 1970 he was part of the White House Record Library Commission, a committee entrusted with building the record collection of the Presidential Library. Kolodin was responsible for the classical section. In addition to his writings, Kolodin also was a faculty member at the Juilliard School from 1968 to 1986, teaching courses on the Music of Mahler and Music Criticism. Kolodin died in 1987 in New York, after suffering a stroke in the previous year.
Content: The Irving Kolodin Papers contain correspondence, diaries and daybooks, scores, drafts and galley proofs, research notes, clippings, press kits and press releases, photographs, scrapbooks, lecture notes and other teaching material, financial papers, original artwork and oversized material, documenting the career of Irving Kolodin, music critic, author and teacher at the Juilliard School. The collection dates from 1844 to 1986. Although Kolodin was born in 1908 and his own material dates from 1915 to 1986, the collection includes a substantial amount of earlier papers related to his mentor, W. J. Henderson, and his close friend, Alfred Knopf, as well as research material that predates Kolodin’s lifetime. Kolodin’s correspondence consists of personal and professional correspondence with personalities in the music, as well as the publishing world. It includes contracts, negotiations and scholarly collaboration related to a wide range of subjects on which Kolodin wrote. There are also letters from the various artists Kolodin reviewed in his articles, and letters by readers. This series also includes correspondence of Alfred Knopf with various individuals other than Kolodin. The largest series in this collection is Kolodin’s writings, which include drafts, galley proofs or copies of his articles and several but not all of his books, both published and unpublished. This series also includes a substantial number of research notes kept by Kolodin, as well as interview transcripts, programs, clippings, press kits and other publicity material, scholarly periodicals and article imprints. Among the books represented here are The Continuity of Music: A History of Influence (1969), The Interior Beethoven: A Biography of the Music (1975), In Quest of Music: A Journey in Time (1980), and ample material for the various editions of his history of the Metropolitan Opera, including the nearly complete The Metropolitan Opera: Centennial Edition, 1966-1984. There is also material for some of the books Kolodin never completed or published. The collection contains a small number of annotated published and manuscript scores. The majority of these scores were used for musical examples in Kolodin’s books, or for teaching. There is also a small number of personal papers, noteworthy among which are Kolodin’s diary entries, documenting his trips to Europe, Japan and Australia, as well as his personal insights on his encounters with various personalities in the music world. Teaching material includes lecture notes, course syllabi, reading materials, song lyrics and scores for musical examples, tests, quizzes, and examination booklets for the two courses that Kolodin taught at the Juilliard School, The Music of Mahler, and Criticism of Music. The photographs found in this collection include personal and publicity photographs of the wide range of individuals featured in Kolodin’s writings. Several are inscribed to Kolodin. There are also photographs of Kolodin, alone or with colleagues and personalities with whom he maintained personal relations. The scrapbooks found in this collection were created by W. J. Henderson and Kolodin. Fashioned in the same way, the scrapbooks contain clippings of the two men’s reviews, as well as of their colleagues at The New York Sun and other publications. Oversized materials include artwork, such as sketches, caricatures and lithographs, as well as photographs, galley proofs, programs, record jackets and research materials used in Kolodin’s various writings.
Physical Description
Extent: 77 (157 boxes)
Type of Resource
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b18034643
MSS Unit ID: 20431
Archives collections id: archives_collections_20431
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 62da34c0-a543-0135-5968-4773c213c0fd
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