Author Archives: Jennifer Lee

About Jennifer Lee

Curator, Performing Arts Collections

Peter Harvey gift of Tennessee Williams set drawing


We are very fortunate that theatrical designer extraordinaire Peter Harvey has made a gift to RBML of his drawing for Tennessee Williams’s “Orpheus Descending,” produced at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in 1958. Tennessee was involved in the production and liked the set very much. Harvey graduated from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, in 1955. He was immediately hired as designer by the Coconut Grove Playhouse, a position that he held until the autumn of 1958 when he settled permanently in New York City with his partner, artist Peter Thek.

In New York, Peter Harvey created theatrical designs for George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet, including the spectacular “Jewels” of 1967 that he redesigned for the Company in 2004, and also recreated for the Marinsky in St. Petersburg, the Semperoper in Dresden and for La Scala Ballet in Milan. Other high-lights of his 30 years in the theater have been the full-length Balanchine ballet “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for the Zurich Opera Ballet, the original New York and London productions of “The Boys in the Band,” and the hit musical “Dames at Sea.”

Prokofiev Archive Received from London


The Serge Prokofiev Archive that has been housed for many decades at Goldsmiths College, University of London, has arrived in RBML and is now available for use by Prokofiev researchers. Constituted in successive stages over a period of 60 years, this impressive collection was gathered by Prokofiev himself and by members of his family, but credit for painstakingly gathering everything together must go to Noëlle Mann, whose dedication to the preservation of Prokofiev’s legacy remains unparalleled.

During his prolonged stay in the West from 1918 to 1936, Prokofiev accumulated a large personal archive. When he returned to Moscow, he took only those papers and manuscripts that he judged necessary for life in the Soviet Union. Everything else was left in the care of close Parisian friends and his publisher, Edition Russe de Musique. These papers remained in France until 1974 when Lina Prokofiev, having returned to Paris after 38 difficult years, including imprisonment, in the U.S.S.R., was able to reclaim them.

In the years that followed, Lina devoted herself to promoting Prokofiev and to tracking down his personal effects and papers, thus increasing her husband’s collection. The work continued, with tremendous energy, when Noëlle Mann established the Prokofiev Archive in London. What has come with the material from Goldsmiths College are high quality photocopies of the archive, along with Lina’s personal archive, and that or their younger son, Oleg. Also in the archive is the largest collection of published material on Prokofiev in the West, including some 500 scores, over 400 books, periodicals and articles on Prokofiev, and nearly 500 concert programs. The fast-growing audiovisual collection contains almost 800 audio recordings on CD, LP and cassette, and 65 video/DVD recordings.

For access, please contact Jennifer B. Lee, Curator, Performing Arts Collections:

Jerome Moross Centennial Celebration

RBML is the repository of the papers of Jerome Moross, and we are delighted to announce the following broadcasts in honor of his 100th birthday tomorrow, August 1st, 2013.

In addition, Moross will be featured in an exhibition on composers in RBML this fall, on display in the Kempner Gallery from September 23, 2013 through January 10, 2014. More information on the exhibition coming soon.

The following is re-posted from the Jerome Moross Newsletter. For more information, please visit the official Moross web site:


August 1 is the start of the Jerome Moross Centenary and many radio stations will pay tribute to the day, the month, and the year with original programs about Jerome Moross’s life and music. On August 1 from 8 PM to 10 PM, Minnesota Public Radio will feature Jerome Moross: The Big Country and Beyond. Also, starting Monday, July 29 and for the rest of the week each weekday morning at 10 a.m., the hosts of Classical MPR are playing a stand-out work of Jerome Moross on its program, Morning Glories.. Read more>>>

WDAV-FM, Davidson, NC, will air Reel Music Special: Jerome Moross 100th Anniversary on August 4.  Host Matt Rogers offers an interview with Susanna Moross Tarjan. Read more>>>

All Classical Public Media features Edmund Stone’s The Score. His program, The Jerome Moross Centenary will be rebroadcast on August 4.  . Read more>>>

To see a list of stations playing WFMT Radio Network’s documentary Jerome Moross: The Big Country and Beyond! and other original programming, click here.>>>

Joseph Urban’s Grave, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Taking advantage of the fine spring weather last week, I visited Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to find the grave of Joseph Urban. While he is not as well remembered today as many others who are buried there, he is listed on the cemetery’s published map of important grave sites.

Located in Section 48, in the quieter north-western side of the cemetery overlooking the Pocantico River, Urban’s grave consists of a large black granite slab inscribed with his name, his dates, his JU monogram, and the following inscription in fraktur letterforms from his beloved song: “Der Schönste Mann von Wien.”

Buried very nearby to the right, in a small grove of mountain laurel with no marker, is Urban’s colleague, architect Raymond Hood (1881-1934) who attended Urban’s funeral service in the Sleepy Hollow Chapel.

Further to the right on the same road is the grave of Artur Bodanzky (1877-1939), conductor at the Metropolitan Opera for 24 years. Bodanzky conducted 21 of the 55 Met productions with set designs created by Urban, including the production of Wagner’s Parsifal that debuted in 1920, Ernst Krenek’s Jonny Spielt Auf that debuted in 1929, and Richard Strauss’s Elektra that debuted in 1932.

Urban’s daughter Gretl sent a telegram to the Bodanzkys, then in Vienna, on July 10, 1933 with the news of her father’s death, and the conductor sent back the following message: “A bright light has gone out for many, many of us because he was greatly admired and much loved, and we shall weep.”

The graves of many others whose papers are held by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library can be found in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, including those of Andrew Carnegie, Mary and Albert Lasker, and Oswald Garrison Villard. Frederick Philipse is represented in RBML by some early records of the Philipse Family. Raymond Hood’s papers are held by the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library.

Ulysses Kay Online Exhibition

We are delighted to announce that “Ulysses Kay: Twentieth Century Composer” is now available for viewing:

Ulysses Kay (1917-1995) wrote more than one hundred forty compositions in a wide range of forms – five operas, over two dozen large orchestral works, more than fifty voice or choral compositions, over twenty chamber works, a ballet, and numerous other compositions for voice, solo instruments or dancer, film, and television.

The Kay family gave the papers of Barbara and Ulysses Kay to Columbia in 2009, and they have since been cataloged. The finding aid for the collection is available through:

Also included in the online exhibition is material relating to Barbara Kay’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, when she participated in the Mississippi Freedom Rides, the New Jersey Englewood Movement, and the "March Against Fear."

Jack Beeson’s Birthday

Today, July 15, 2010, would have been Jack Beeson’s 89th birthday. We celebrate his prolific output and prodigious memory by heartily recommending his autobiography, what he called "The Book," How Operas are Created by Composers and Librettists: The Life of Jack Beeson, American Opera Composer, published by The Edwin Mellen Press in 2008. Jack died suddenly on Sunday, June 6, having recently completed a new piece entitled "Kilroy Was Here," a setting of selections from two Peter Viereck poems for baritone and piano, and having chaired a meeting of the Alice M. Ditson Fund two days before.

"The Book" is full of personal observations and stories of the people that he knew, being, in short, everybody. He was one of perhaps two people to have taken composition lessons from Bela Bartók, accompanied Claudio Arrau on out-of-the-way antiqueing excursions in Rome, and was directly responsible for Columbia’s launching of a doctor of musical arts degree in composition.

On teaching music appreciation, the now required Music Humanities course, part of Columbia’s celebrated Core Curriculum, he writes in How Operas are Created: "More than once during the [years teaching these courses] … I had occasion to remember and re-read the ten pages Virgil Thomson devoted to the subject of the "appreciation racket" in his 1940 book, The State of Music. … Virgil, in a fine fury, argued that those teaching (or as he also said, "preaching") the subject using as examples the fifty masterpieces … were but cogs in the publicity machines of record and radio corporations and symphony orchestras … That we succeeded in introducing at least some students to what they had so far missed, had come to enjoy, and thereafter taken much pleasure in, is certainly the case: time after time, in New York and more often elsewhere a seeming stranger approaches, introduces himself as one of my former Humanities students, and says so fervently."

Jennifer B. Lee