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
The violinist Adolf Busch founded the Marlboro School of Music in 1951 along with his son-in-law, pianist Rudolf Serkin, cellist Herman Busch, flutist Marcel Moyse, pianist and flutist Louis Moyse, and violinist and conductor Blanche Honegger Moyse. While the festival unofficially began the previous year in the summer of 1950 when Walter Hendricks, the founder of Marlboro College in rural southern Vermont, initially invited Busch and the Moyses to host a summer music school at the college, it wasn't until the following year, 1951, that the school was officially established as its own separate entity from Marlboro College.
Busch passed away suddenly in 1952 leaving Serkin to take over spearheading the artistic direction of the school and festival. He preserved Busch's vision of a setting in which professionals and amateurs could enjoy the simple pleasure of making music without the usual pressures of rehearsals and performances that they endure throughout the rest of the year.
Part of Busch's dream for Marlboro was that money would not be a factor in determining participation; senior artists were typically unpaid and students were offered scholarships to cover costs. This growing pressure to cover the annual expenses eventually forced Serkin to give Marlboro an administrative overhaul. He actively engaged in fundraising and set up an endowment fund. Tickets were required for attendance at concerts and, in 1962, the new auditorium was completed, accommodating larger audiences than the campus dining hall where performances had been held prior to its construction.
As the years went by and applications poured in, the admissions process became more rigorous and included formal auditions and letters of recommendation from sponsors. The dynamic became one in which exceptionally gifted young musicians played alongside senior artists for seven weeks each summer and gave weekly concerts to the public, often with the programs decided upon only at the last minute. At the beginning of each season, participants requested works they would like to study; dozens of pieces would be rehearsed over the course of a particular summer, but very few were actually performed. The emphasis was always on the intensive study of chamber music, with the concerts being of secondary importance. Serkin frequently reiterated that Marlboro was a school first and foremost and that the concerts were merely its by-product.
Over the years, Marlboro has attracted numerous prominent musicians such as pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist Joshua Bell, and cellist Pablo Casals, who returned to Marlboro for thirteen summers from 1960-1973, teaching cello master classes and conducting orchestral performances, a rare exception to Marlboro's strict adherence to the study of chamber music.
With Rudolf Serkin's death in 1991, Marlboro found itself without an artistic director for the first time since Serkin himself took the reins in 1952. In 1999, pianists Richard Goode and Mitsuko Uchida, both former Marlboro participants themselves, were appointed as the new artistic directors. In 2013, Uchida became the sole director and, under her leadership, Marlboro Music continues to thrive and draw musicians from around the world to its bucolic setting and collegial atmosphere and remains a wellspring for artistic talent, collaboration, and inspiration.
This collection comprises administrative documents, concert programs, printed promotional materials, articles and reviews, photographs, and audio-visual materials relating to the Marlboro School of Music and annual summer festival as well as the related Musicians from Marlboro touring series and the Marlboro Recording Society. The collection spans Marlboro's history from 1950 through 2013 and showcases its influence on chamber music in America as it documents its growth from a small and informally organized summer school in the early 1950s to its current status as a prestigious institution that has shaped careers and inspired the formation of numerous renowned ensembles such as the Guarneri String Quartet and the Daedalus String Quartet.
The bulk of the collection consists of administrative records and these include correspondence, internal memos, financial documents, and information for and related to participants. The administrative files from the first decade of the school are minimal, but those that do exist are of interest in that they show how the administration of the school changed over the years to adapt to its growth while still trying to maintain its original philosophy.
The school initially accepted amateur musicians as participants and some of the earliest letters are from applicants so young that a parent has written on their behalf. Not long after Serkin took over as artistic director and the number of applicants increased, the emphasis shifted towards accepting young professionals instead of amateurs, with the appearance of formal applications and auditions in the collection showing how the selection process became more rigorous over the years. An exception is seen in the files relating to the youth auditors program that Serkin initiated in the 1960s which offered scholarships for talented underprivileged youths to attend the summer school.
An important aspect of Marlboro culture was the attitude towards playing and rehearsing. At the beginning of each year, participants were given the opportunity to request works they would like to study that summer and the scheduling subseries contains many years of these forms as well as the resultant rehearsal schedules and final tabulations of works studied and performed as well as lists of who played with whom. Serkin frequently referred to Marlboro as a "republic of equals" and this fair approach to determining the season's schedule is indicative of that sentiment.
The oral history project and Marlboro recollections subseries provide excellent personal insights into the history of the school. The transcriptions of recorded interviews and the handwritten anecdotes on the backs of mailed forms offer a look at the vibrant and often familial atmosphere present at the school. Lasting friendships were forged and, in a number of cases, marriages were as well. Practical jokes were abundant and many participants fondly recall the napkin ball fights in the dining hall at the end of dinner that were always initiated by Serkin himself.
The collection also highlights the recurring presence of cellist Pablo Casals and many materials in the collection relate to his participation in the festival, from the numerous recordings of orchestral performances that he conducted at Marlboro to the countless photographs and newspaper articles that focus on him as the epitome of the senior artist who was drawn to Marlboro year after year.
The form and clip books subseries highlights each festival season by containing that year's relevant administrative forms, participant information, brochures, articles, and reviews. It offers a glimpse of that season's participants, the relevant works studied and performed, as well as any administrative changes the school may have undergone at the time. The materials were formerly housed in three-ring binders arranged by Marlboro administrators and their intellectual organization has been retained.
The special projects subseries contains files relating to projects and events that are outside of the scope of the school and festival. It includes projects such as a Bartok benefit concert in 1965, birthday celebration plans for co-founders Blanche and Marcel Moyse, and the cello master classes taught by Pablo Casals.
Printed and promotional materials are organized by season and include ticket brochures, annual festival program books, concert programs, posters, postcards, and flyers advertising the festival and related performances. Promotional materials before 1956 are essentially non-existent and become increasingly prevalent in subsequent years as the administration took an active role in promoting the school and festival.
The Music from Marlboro subseries contains administrative files relating to the annual touring concert series begun in 1965 and is arranged chronologically by touring season. Documents include itineraries, programs, business correspondence, memos, articles and reviews, press releases, forms, and form letters.
The photographs series contains a number of professional prints included in Marlboro's photo archive. This subseries retains Marlboro's intellectual arrangement of the photos and includes a copy of Marlboro's reference sheet for guidance. Other subseries include professional photos and contact sheets arranged by photographer's last name, unidentified amateur photos, negatives, and slides. Photos are of prominent Marlboro personalities such as Serkin, Casals, and Moyse, but also feature photographs of both senior and young artists in formal and informal settings.
The audio-visual series contains film reels relating to Marlboro and Pablo Casals; long-playing records of primarily Marlboro recordings with many of them featuring Casals conducting; cassettes of formal recordings, radio broadcasts, and oral history interviews; and audio CDs of recordings and oral history interviews. This series has restricted access and researchers interested in acquiring a digital copy will be financially responsible for the transfer from the original.
Gift of Marlboro School of Music, 2013.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Marissa Hendriks
- Finding Aid Date
- 2015 June 25
- Access Restrictions
The bulk of this collection is open for research. However, this collection contains contracts, agreements, donor information, as well as sensitive personally identifiable or financial information and these materials have been restricted from use by the public in accordance with the Marlboro Music School's wishes.
Access to original audio/visual materials and computer files (located in Series III. Audio-visual materials and files) is restricted. The Kislak Center will provide access to the information on these materials from duplicate master files. If the original does not already have a copy, it will be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items is about two weeks for up to five items and three to seven weeks for more than five items. Please contact Reprographic Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) for cost estimates and ordering. Once digital items are received, researchers will have access to the files on a dedicated computer in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.
- Use Restrictions
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.