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Rudolf Serkin and James Heineman correspondence


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Rudolf Serkin (1903-1991) was a pianist who is widely regarded as one of the greatest Beethoven interpreters of the 20th century. He was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to a Russian Jewish family. He was a child prodigy and was sent to Vienna at age 9 to study piano with Richard Robert and Joseph Marx and made his debut with the Vienna Philharmonic at age 12. He began a regular concert career in 1920, living in Berlin with violinist Adolf Busch and his family including his daughter Irene who Serkin would marry 15 years later. Serkin and the Busches left Germany during the rise of Hitler in 1933 for Basel, Switzerland. In 1933, Serkin made his first U.S. appearance at the Coolidge Festival in D.C. In 1936, he launched his solo concert career in the U.S. with the New York Philharmonic. In 1937, Serkin played his first New York recital at Carnegie Hall. After the outbreak of WWII in 1939, the Serkins and the Busches immigrated to the U.S. where Serkin taught at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, serving as its director from 1968 to 1976. He moved from Philadelphia to Guilford, Vermont and founded the Marlboro School of Music and Festival in Vermont. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963. He maintained an active concert career while living in America, and toured all over the world. He died from cancer at age 88 in Vermont. Rudolf and Irene were parents to seven children.

James H. Heineman (1917-1994) was the son of Dannie and Hettie Heineman who were long time friends of Rudolf Serkin and the Busch family, as well as important supporters of chamber music. Dannie Heineman (1872-1962), engineer, business executive, and philanthropic sponsor of the sciences, lived and worked in Germany and Belgium prior to World War II. He and his wife established the Heineman Foundation for Research, Educational, Charitable and Scientific Purposes, Inc. in 1948. Following his death, his son, James H. Heineman, served as director of the foundation. James was also active with the Marlboro School of Music and Festival, serving as a trustee. He and Rudolf Serkin appear to have had a warm friendship that extended from the late 1940s until Serkin's death in 1991.

This collection contains correspondence and ephemera documenting the long friendship of Rudolf Serkin and James H. Heineman. The correspondence is between Rudolf "Rudi" Serkin, Irene Serkin and James "Jimmy" H. Heineman from 1948 to 1991. This correspondence is personal and sheds light on Serkin and Heineman's affectionate friendship. There are several holiday cards and thank you notes. Letters include discussions of meetings and performances and offerings of condolences for the loss of family members. Letters also document highlights in Serkin's career, such as winning the Medal of Freedom in 1968 and the opportunity to perform and record all twenty-four Mozart Concerti. Occasionally, Heineman requests performances by Serkin and Serkin requests copies of music. The development of an endowment fellowship for Sam and Miriam Field at Marlboro Music for Sam Field's upcoming 80th birthday is also addressed. Finally, researchers will find a letter from Heineman to Irene Serkin expressing his condolences and his own grief for Rudolf Serkin's death in 1991.

In addition to the correspondence, there is some ephemera and articles regarding Serkin. There are newspaper articles focusing on Rudolf Serkin, including fifteen articles from the New York Times, a copy of an issue of Le Monde de la Musique that focuses on Serkin's "eighty years as a pianist," and a biographical sketch published in Keynote. There are several stage bills including ones from Carnegie Hall dating from December 1982, December 1984, and January 1986. There are also performance announcements of Serkin's performances in Carnegie Hall in 1984 and 1988. Researchers will find an invitation to Serkin's 85th birthday celebration, a letter from Sam Field to the Marlboro Board of Trustees regarding a recital at which Serkin performed, a record and tape guide to the Rudolf Serkin discography, and an open letter from Lee Davis to Joseph Papp titled "Of Rage and Ecstasy."

Sold by Zubal Books, 2016.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kelin Baldridge
Finding Aid Date
2016 May 9
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

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Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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Box 1 Folder 2
Box 1 Folder 3
Box 1 Folder 4
Box 1 Folder 5
Undated, circa 1942-1991.
Box 1 Folder 1

Keynote, "Rudolf Serkin: Servant of Music," by Claude Frank, undated.
Box 1 Folder 10
Le Monde de la Musique, "Eighty Ans de Piano," interview by Myriam Anissimov , 1983.
Box 1 Folder 7
New York Times, fifteen articles, 1982-1991.
Box 1 Folder 8
Performance announcements, 1984-1988.
Box 1 Folder 9
Stagebills and programs, 1942, 1982-1986.
Box 1 Folder 10
Miscellaneous documents including an invitation to Serkin's 85th birthday party, record and tape guide to Serkin's discography, Sampson R. Field letter to Marlboro Music, and Lee David open letter to Joseph Papp, 1986-1988, undated.
Box 1 Folder 6

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