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Marc Blitzstein papers, 1918-2004

Blitzstein, Marc

Publication Details Click to collapse Cite/Export

  • Format Mixed Materials; Microforms; Sound Recordings
  • Physical Details
    • 40.0 c.f. (113 boxes)
    • 71 reels of microfilm (35 mm)
    • 23 tape recordings, and
    • 114 disc recordings; plus
    • additions of 0.5 c.f
    • 7 disc recordings, and
    • 1 CD-ROM
  • OCLC ocn613396851, ocn613414095
  • Finding Aids
    • Register to the processed portion


  • COPYRIGHT RESTRICTION: Literary and performance rights reside with the executors of the Blitzstein Estate. Recordings presented by Eric Gordon (Audio 761A, 763A, and 764A) may be used for research only.


  • Personal and professional papers of Marc Blitzstein (1905-1964), a talented and innovative composer, lyricist, and librettist, best known for his concern with making his work socially as well as artistically significant. The collection provides particularly interesting documentation of the creative process of composition and of Blitzstein's efforts to reconcile the political, psychological, and musical aspects of composition. Blitzstein was most famous for his operas "The Cradle Will Rock," a controversial work produced for the Federal Theatre Project in 1937, "Regina" (1949), "Reuben, Reuben" (1955), and "Juno" (1959); his motion picture score for "Native Land" (Frontier Films, 1942); "The Airborne Symphony" (1946); and his very successful adaptation of "The Threepenny Opera" (1954).
  • The collection is comprised chiefly of scores and scripts, with related correspondence, research material, and clippings, pertaining to Blitzstein's work in motion pictures, opera, ballet, theater, and symphonic orchestra. Also included are personal papers such as correspondence, contracts, notebooks, and journals concerning his travels, writings and lecture materials, and scrapbooks of newspaper clippings and memorabilia. Among the prominent correspondents are Eric Bentley, Leonard Bernstein, Nadia Boulanger, Bertolt Brecht, Cheryl Crawford, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Billy Rose, Victor deSabata, Alexander Siloti, and Deems Taylor. Papers of Blitzstein's wife, Eva Goldbeck (1901-1936), including many personal letters, journals, and unpublished writings, are also present.
  • There are tape and disc recordings of performances or excerpts of many of Blitzstein's works, including "The Airborne Symphony" (complete 1946 recordings of its world premiere performance by the New York Symphony Orchestra, and by the NBC Symphony Orchestra for "General Motors' Symphony of the Air"), "The Cradle Will Rock," "Freedom Morning," "I've Got the Tune," "Juno," "Mother Courage," "Native Land," "No for an Answer," "Reuben, Reuben," "Regina," "This Is the Garden," and "Valley Town." Also on tape are interviews with Blitzstein, July 29, 1943, and with opera singer Lina Abarbanell.
  • The processed portion is summarized above, dates 1918-1983, and is described in the register. Additional accessions date 1980-2004 and are described below.


  • Most of the original disc recordings are now also available on tape.
  • Presented by Marc Blitzstein, New York, New York, 1962; Norman Cazden, Lexington, Massachusetts, 1964; Robert Dietz, Bremerton, Washington, 1964; Paul Talley, Madison, Wisconsin, 1964; Joesphine Davis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1964-1975; Helen G. Coates, New York, New York, 1972; Sally Lou Todd, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1975-1976; the Estate of Marc Blitzstein, via Joesphine and Edward Davis, Trustees, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1981; and Eric A. Gordon, New York, New York, 1979-1983. Additional photocopied music scores purchased from the Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1985.
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