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Milt Gabler Papers

Creator:
Armstrong, Lucille  Search this
Bechet, Sidney, 1897-1959  Search this
Armstrong, Louis, 1901-1971  Search this
Condon, Eddie, 1905-1973  Search this
Calloway, Cab, 1907-  Search this
Commodore Records.  Search this
Feather, Leonard  Search this
Gabler, Milt  Search this
Davis, Sammy, 1925-  Search this
Decca (recording company).  Search this
Granz, Norman  Search this
Hawkins, Coleman  Search this
Kaempfert, Bert, 1923-1980  Search this
Ives, Burl, 1909-  Search this
Holiday, Billie, 1915-1959  Search this
Norvo, Red, 1908-1999  Search this
Mills Brothers.  Search this
Krupa, Gene, 1909-1973  Search this
Kelly, Peck, 1898-  Search this
Williams, Cootie  Search this
United Hot Clubs of America.  Search this
Stewart, Rex (William), Jr., 1907-1967 (cornetist)  Search this
Jordan, Louis, 1908-1975  Search this
Goodman, Benny (Benjamin David), 1909-1986  Search this
Names:
Crosby, Bing, 1904-1977  Search this
Goodman, Benny (Benjamin David), 1909-1986  Search this
Extent:
25 Cubic feet (75 boxes )
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Legal records
Magazines (periodicals)
Catalogs
Correspondence
Financial records
Music
Bank statements
Autobiographies
Articles
Tax records
Business records
Newsletters
Photographs
Recordings
Sheet music
Date:
1895-2001
Summary:
The collection documents Gabler's involvement in the recording industry and the evolution of Commodore Records. The documentation begins with the Commodore Radio Shop through its evolution to Commodore Music Shop. The collection also includes the beginnings of the Commodore record label and information detailing Gabler's 30 years as staff producer and later Vice-President in Charge of Artists and Repertoire at Decca Records (1941-1974). There is a small collection of black and white photographs chronicling the early years at the Commodore Music Shop, as well as jam sessions, often held at Jimmy Ryan's on 52nd Street. The collection also includes a vast array of audio recordings (mainly audiodiscs).
Scope and Contents:
Papers documenting Gabler's life and career, including: correspondence with family members, friends and people in the music business such as Sammy Davis, Jr. and Lucille Armstrong (Louis' wife); Gabler's writings, including an autobiography and numerous articles; music manuscripts and sheet music, the lyrics for some of which were written by Gabler, and other compositions written by others, including Red Norvo, Eddie Condon and others; legal and financial records, including royalty statements, tax papers and banking records; business records for Commodore and Decca, including correspondence from persons such as Norman Granz, Burl Ives, and Leonard Feather; Commodore and Decca legal records including licensing and trademark documents; publicity materials; production records, such as production logs and liner notes; printed materials such as catalogs, newsletters, magazines, and periodicals; papers relating to Gabler's affiliation with Bert Kaempfert, including correspondence, sheet music and lyrics, and production records; photographs of Gabler and his family and of numerous others in the music industry, including Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., Bert Kaempfert, the Mills Brothers, Rex Stewart, Cootie Williams, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Gene Krupa, Louis Jordan, Peck Kelly, Sidney Bechet, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, and numerous others, many taken in the studio during recording sessions; and audio recordings.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into twenty-seven series.

Series 1: Personal Correspondence

Series 2: Writings by Milt Gabler

Series 3: Music Manuscripts and Sheet Music

Series 4: Personal Financial and Legal Records

Series 5: Commodore and Decca Correspondence and Gabler Rolodex

Series 6: Commodore and Decca Legal Records

Series 7: Commodore and Decca Financial

Series 8: Publicity

Series 9: Commodore and Decca Projects

Series 10: Production Records

Series 11: Commodore General Correspondence

Series 12: Commodore Financial Records

Series 13: Commodore Legal Records

Series 14: Commodore Production Records

Series 15: Commodore, Various Projects and Topical Files

Series 16: Commodore Publicity Records

Series 17: Business Cards

Series 18: Catalogs

Series 19: Newsletters

Series 20: Serials

Series 21: Monographs

Series 22: Newsclippings, Periodical Articles, and Advertisements

Series 23: Correspondence with Organizations

Series 24: Organization Membership cards

Series 25: Bert Kaempfert

Series 26: Photographs

Series 27: Audio Discs
Biographical / Historical:
Milt Gabler was born in Harlem, New York on May 20, 1911. He began managing his father's radio and small appliance store, the Commodore Radio Shop, while still a teen. Gabler convinced his father to expand the business and sell audio recordings. Soon Gabler pioneered the concept of marketing reissues by leasing discontinued masters from various record companies (mainly Victor, Columbia, Vocalion, and Brunswick). Eventually the Gablers changed the name of the family business to the Commodore Music Shop. By the early 1930's Gabler founded the first mail order record label, United Hot Clubs of America, to reach an even greater audience of jazz enthusiasts. In 1935 Gabler began publicizing the music shop by staging a series of Sunday afternoon jam sessions at several different recording studios along 52nd Street. Later the jam sessions moved to the nearby jazz club, Jimmy Ryan's.

In 1938 Gabler founded the Commodore music label. It was the first American recording label created exclusively for jazz music. A recording session for Eddie Condon's Windy City Seven at Brunswick Studios was the first original Commodore recording. In 1939 Gabler recorded Billie Holiday's controversial "Strange Fruit", which became Commodore's first major commercial success. Other notable Commodore artists include Sidney Bechet, Jonah Jones, Peck Kelley, Red Norvo, Ralph Sutton, and Teddy Wilson. Gabler began as a staff producer at Decca Records in 1941 and worked with artists from many different musical genres: Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Brenda Lee, the Weavers, and Louis Jordan, among others. Gabler also began writing lyrics in collaboration with Decca songwriters/composers. In 1954 Gabler produced the first recordings by Bill Haley and the Comets. In addition, Gabler continued to run the Commodore recording label until 1957. Gabler also managed the Commodore Music Shop until 1958, when he began working full-time at Decca as Vice-President in Charge of Artists and Repertoire. Throughout the 1960's Gabler served as lyricist in a number of collaborations with Bert Kaempfert and Herbert Rehbein. Gabler retained his influential position at Decca until 1974 when the corporation moved to the West Coast. Through the Decca years, Gabler had saved the Commodore masters and in 1974 began to reissue the recordings through Atlantic, Columbia Special Products, and finally United Hot Clubs of America. In 1987 Mosaic Records also began to reissue the entire catalog of Commodore recordings.

In the last decades of his life Gabler remained active in a number of professional organizations, most notably the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which bestowed upon him a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 1991. Gabler died in New York on July 20, 2001.
Provenance:
Collection donated by Milt Gabler estate, through Lee Gabler.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use. Some materials restricted; but most are available for unrestricted research access on site by appointment.

Several items of personal correspondence contained private medical information about living individuals. The originals were removed and will remain sealed until 2030. Copies with the sensitive information redacted are available for research use in the collection.

Access to audio recordings for which no reference copy exists requires special arrangements with Archives Center staff. Please ask the reference archivist for additional information.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Music publishers  Search this
Jazz musicians -- United States  Search this
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Composition (Music)  Search this
Music trade  Search this
Music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Musicians -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Legal records
Magazines (periodicals) -- 20th century
Catalogs
Correspondence -- 20th century
Financial records
Music -- Manuscripts
Bank statements
Autobiographies
Articles
Tax records
Business records -- 20th century
Newsletters -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Recordings
Sheet music -- 20th century
Citation:
Milt Gabler Papers, 1927-2001, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0849
See more items in:
Milt Gabler Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0849
Online Media:

Al Celley Collection of Duke Ellington Materials

Creator:
Celley, Al  Search this
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974  Search this
Extent:
2.5 Cubic feet (7 boxes, 1 oversize folder)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Contracts
Business records
Correspondence
Financial records
78 rpm records
Orchestrations
16mm motion picture film
Signatures (names)
Handbills
Passports
Notes
Tickets
Writings
Photographs
Date:
1943 - 1989
Summary:
A diverse collection of papers assembled by Duke Ellington's road manager, Al Celley. The collection includes correspondence, photographs of Ellington and his orchestra at various times and locations; concert ephemera; handwritten notes; business and financial documents, primarily receipts; and travel ephemera.
Scope and Contents:
The collection was assembled by Duke Ellington's road manager, Al Celley and includes correspondence, photographs of Ellington and his orchestra at various times and locations; concert ephemera; handwritten notes; business and financial documents, primarily receipts; and travel ephemera.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into six series.

Series 1: Personal Materials, 1943-1962

Subseries 1.1: Al Celley, 1943-1962

Subseries 1.2: Duke Ellington, 1948

Series 2: Correspondence, 1945-1963

Subseries 2.1: Chronological, 1945-1963

Subseries 2.2: Alphabetical, 1949-1961

Series 3: Subject Files, 1948-1963

Series 4: Financial Materials, 1944-1964

Subseries 4.1: Payroll/Salary Ledgers, 1944-1962

Subseries 4.2: Expense Notebooks, 1946, 1959

Subseries 4.3: Receipts and Bills, 1945-1964

Series 5: Photographs, 1947-1967

Series 6: Audio Visual Materials, 1945-1957

Subseries 6.1: Moving Image, 1957

Subseries 6.2: Audio Discs, 1945-1946
Biographical / Historical:
Albert "Al" Joseph Celley (1909-1994) was Duke Ellington's road manager from 1942 to 1964. Celley handled the band's business affairs, such as concert bookings, logistics, staging shows, and organizing tours. Celley also handled the weekly payroll, contracts, collecting money from promoters, paying road expenses, and sending weekly reports to Bill Mittler, an accountant.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Duke Ellington Collection (AC0301)

Duke Ellington Oral History Project (AC0368)

This project includes an interview with Al Celley, July 12, 1989.
Provenance:
Purchased at auction by the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, May 2011.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.

Reference copies for audio discs and moving image do not exist. Use of these materials requires special arrangement with the Archives Center staff. Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Musicians  Search this
Music  Search this
Music trade  Search this
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Jazz musicians  Search this
Big bands  Search this
African Americans  Search this
Genre/Form:
Contracts
Business records
Correspondence
Financial records
78 rpm records
Orchestrations
16mm motion picture film
Signatures (names)
Handbills
Passports
Notes
Tickets
Writings
Photographs
Citation:
Al Celley Collection of Duke Ellington Materials, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1240
See more items in:
Al Celley Collection of Duke Ellington Materials
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1240

Sohmer & Co. Records

Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collector:
Musical Instruments, Division of (NMAH, SI)  Search this
Musical Instruments, Division of (NMAH, SI)  Search this
Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Names:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Kuder, Joseph  Search this
Sohmer, Harry J.  Search this
Sohmer, Harry J., Jr.  Search this
Sohmer, Hugo  Search this
Sohmer, William  Search this
Extent:
43 Cubic feet (74 boxes and 11 oversize folders)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Sales catalogs
Photographic prints
Advertisements
Scrapbooks
Clippings
Journals (accounts)
Ledgers (account books)
Place:
Ivoryton (Conn.)
New York (N.Y.) -- Musical instruments industry
Date:
1872-1989
Scope and Contents:
The records of Sohmer & Co., date from 1872 through 1989. They fall into fourteen series based primarily on function. Legal, financial, inventory & appraisal, manufacturing, marketing, advertising, and sales are the major series. Photographs, awards, family papers, publications about Sohmer, general publications, "miscellaneous" and correspondence are the remaining series. The records are especially strong in the areas of advertising, finances, and marketing. The collection does not contain corporate records, articles of incorporation, executive records, minutes, annual reports, or personnel records such as payrolls or job descriptions.
Arrangement:
The collection is divided into 14 series.

Series 1: Stock and Legal Records, 1882-1985

Series 2: Financial Records, 1887-1962

Series 3: Inventory & Appraisal Records, 1891-1980

Series 4: Manufacturing Records, 1872-1967

Series 5: Marketing, 1901-1989

Series 6: Advertising Records, 1880-1983

Series 7: Sales Records, 1923-1982

Series 8: Photographs, circa 1920-1964

Series 9: Awards, 1876-1976

Serioes 10: Sohmer Family Papers, 1945-1970

Series 11: Publications about Sohmer, 1883-1986

Series 12: General Publications, 1912-1985

Series 13: Miscellaneous Records, 1894-1983

Series 14: Correspondence, 1892-1987
Historical:
When Sohmer & Co. was founded in 1872 by Hugo Sohmer and his partner Joseph Kuder, it became one of 171 piano manufacturers in New York City. Over the next 110 years, Sohmer & Co. was one of the few active and successful family-owned and operated piano-making ventures in the United States. Nationally known for tonal quality and fine craftmanship, the firm's product, in the music trade, came to be referred to as "The Piano-Maker's Piano."
Biographical:
Born to an eminent physician in Dunningen, Wurtemberg, Germany on November 11, 1846, Hugo Sohmer enjoyed a first class education. Riding the last major wave of German immigration, which had brought piano makers such as Albert Weber, George Steck, John and Charles Fischer, and Henry E. Steinway to America, Hugo arrived in New York City in 1862. He became an apprentice in the piano making house of Schuetze & Ludolf. To learn more about European piano making, Hugo returned to Germany in 1868 and travelled extensively throughout Europe. In 1870 he returned to New York and by 1872 the 26 year old Sohmer and his partner, Josef Kuder, began manufacturing pianos in the 149 East 14th Street factory previously utilized by J.H. Boernhoeft and most recently by Marschall & Mittauer.

Josef Kuder, originally from Bohemia, Austria Hungary, learned piano making in Vienna between 1847 and 1854. Kuder arrived in New York in 1854 and became a pianomaker with Steinway & Sons which had been founded in 1853. In 1861 he returned to Vienna; he worked there until returning to New York in 1864, where he worked for Marschall & Mittauer until joining Sohmer.

Concentrating on tonal quality and response, Sohmer & Co. began producing pianos which were recognized in 1876 by an award from the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. In the waning years of the nineteenth century Sohmer & Co. received other awards including a diploma from the Exposition Provinciale in Montreal, Quebec in 1881, the gold medal at the Great New England Fair in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1889, and an award from the World's Columbian Commission in 1893 in Chicago.

By 1883 additional factory space, located on East 23rd Street and formerly used by Carhart & Needham, was occupied to accomodate increased production. In three years this space proved inadequate and forced the renting of an extension to the original factory. The main office and salesrooms were located at 31 West 57th Street in New York City. Meanwhile, in 1884 Sohmer invented the first five foot "baby" grand piano which was applauded for its musical brilliance and depth of tone. In the early 1900's Sohmer produced grand pianos in four sizes: Concert, Parlor, Baby & Cupid.

Limited space and increased production soon became issues again, and in 1887 the company moved its factory and special machinery to Astoria, Long Island. This factory, located at 31st Avenue and Vernon Boulevard, remained in continuous operation until 1982, when the Adirondack Chair Co. bought the building and Pratt Read acquired the company.

During the 1880s a number of letters patent were granted to Sohmer for such piano improvements as the agraffe bar for tone augmentation, and the aliquot string, which were auxiliary strings "arranged in conjunction with the regular strings for the purpose of giving forth reverberatory or sympathetic waves of sound, thus augmenting the general tone results of each unison." (Spillane, History, 256.)

In 1894 Hugo Sohmer took competitor Sebastian Sommer to court for stenciling the name "Sommer" on the fallboard of his pianos. Sohmer declared that "Sohmer" was a trademark used as an emblem to distinguish the piano from others, especially the Sommer piano which he considered inferior. The court in this equity case dismissed the case on the grounds that Sohmer had not proven damages accruing from the advertising and sale of the Sommer piano.

By 1907 Sohmer & Co. was producing 2,000 pianos per year. Additionally, with Farrand & Co. of Detroit, Sohmer was making the Sohmer Cecilian player piano. On June 8, 1913 Hugo Sohmer died in Scarsdale, N.Y.; 20 days later, Josef Kuder died as well. Hugo was survived by his wife, Elizabeth; a daughter, Adelaide S. Weber; and a son, Harry J. Sohmer, born in 1886. Company leadership was assumed by Harry J. Sohmer after Hugo's death.

During the 1920s Sohmer began a special department in its plant for the manufacture of period pianos. According to Harry Sohmer, the 1930s were difficult. He recalled that, once only one piano in 29 days was shipped. The number of American piano manufacturers dropped from 140 to 22 during this time. It was during this time that Harry's cousins, Frank and Paul Sohmer joined the company as consultants. However, through its pioneering efforts in the introduction of a console vertical piano known as a "Spinet," Sohmer revitalized the industry. (Taylor, "Piano Family.") This console vertical piano has been called "The Musicians' Console.

Primarily because of its concentration on the console vertical pianos Sohmer & Co. never cultivated famous performers in the way that Steinway and Baldwin did. While publicly acknowledging that it never entered into the competition for artistic endorsement (an acknowledgement which perhaps worked to its favor), Sohmer & Co. relied upon a most comprehensive and innovative advertising strategy stressing integrity, quality and craftsmanship in the pursuit of the ideal tone and touch.

In 1940 Harry incorporated the company as Sohmer & Co. and led it, with his sons Harry J. Sohmer, Jr., (born 1917) as production manager and Robert H. Sohmer (born 1920), as process engineer. By 1969 Harry Jr. was vice president in charge of production and Robert was production engineer/ treasurer. In 1971 Harry Sr. died and Harry Jr. became president.

In 1982 Pratt Read Corporation, a long established manufacturer of piano keyboards, acquired Sohmer & Co. for an undisclosed amount, and moved the operations to its Ivoryton, Connecticut factory, while retaining the Sohmer name. The Sohmer brothers retained their positions in the company. At the time of its purchase Sohmer & Co. employed 120 people, produced 2500 pianos yearly, and grossed $5 million in sales. Harry J. Sohmer, Jr., grandson of the founder, in expressing his feelings about the move and the Sohmer piano, compared his piano to old New York beers saying that "they were strictly New York products and in a way so were we." He concluded by saying, "We were always identified with this city. Sohmer was a New York piano." (Prial, "Sohmer Piano.")

By July 1983 under Pratt Read's management Sohmer was producing 6 pianos per day, only 50% of the expected capacity according to H.B. Comstock, president of Pratt Read. In 1986 the Ivoryton factory was sold to a group of investors organized as Sohmer Holding Co., who continued to make pianos there until a lack of skilled workers and financial losses forced its closing in December 1988. In an effort to fill the backlog of orders, Sohmer president Tom Bradshaw opened a new facility in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. A retail showroom was maintained in Ivoryton. In 1989, the Sohmer company was sold to the Falcone Custom Grand Piano Company of Haverhill, Massachusetts.

References

Cox, Erin. "Labor Woes a Main Factor in Sohmer Closing," The Pictorial Gazette West, 3 (December 8, 1988), 1, 22.

Dolge, Alfred. Piano and their Makers. 1911; rpt. New York: Dover Publications, 1973.

Loesser, Arthur. Men, Women and Pianos: A Social History. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1954.

Musical Merchandise Review. "Sohmer Pianos Underway at Conn. Pratt Read," July 1983, 91.

The Music Trades. "Pratt, Read Acquires Sohmer & Co. Piano Maker,"August 1982, 18.

Piano and Organ Purchaser's Guide, 1907, 1930. Prial, Frank J. "Sohmer Piano, and 110 Years of Craft, will leave Astoria," New York Times, August 13, 1982, B1, B4.

Purchaser's Guide to the Music Industries. 1956, New York: The Music Trades, 1956, 58 60.

Spillane, Daniel. History of the American Pianoforte: Its Technical Development, and the Trade. 1890; rpt. New York: Da Capo Press, 1969.

Taylor, Carol. "Piano Family Stays in Tune," New York World Telegram & Sun, August 15, 1958.
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History:
Pratt Read Corp. Records (AC0320)

Chickering & Sons Records (AC0264)

Steinway Piano Co. Collection (AC0178)
Provenance:
Collection donated by Pratt Read Corporation, August 11, 1989.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Musical instrument manufacturing  Search this
Piano makers  Search this
advertising -- History  Search this
Keyboard instruments  Search this
Piano  Search this
advertising  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- 20th century
Sales catalogs
Photographic prints
Advertisements
Photographs -- 1850-1900
Scrapbooks
Clippings
Journals (accounts)
Ledgers (account books)
Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0349
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0349
Online Media:

Albert F. Moglie Violinists and Violin-Making Collection

Donor:
Moglie, Loretta  Search this
Collector:
Moglie, Albert F., 1890-1988  Search this
Photographer:
Rembrandt photo studio  Search this
Scavelli, Ramon  Search this
Harris & Ewing  Search this
Mishkin  Search this
Names:
Budapest String Quartet -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Culp Quartet  Search this
Joachim Quartet -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Moglie, A. F., & Co.  Search this
Sayn-Sevely Trio -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Brody, Saul (violinist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Casals, Pablo, 1876-1973 -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Dumbois, Maurice (cellist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Hamer, Sidney (cellist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Jacobson, Sasha (violinist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Kindler, Hans (Director, National Symphony Orchestra) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Knox, Emily Rose (violinist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Koffman, Carl W. -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Kreisler, Fritz (violinist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Lewister, Joseph S. (cellist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Mitchell, Howard (violinist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Mulwig, J. J. (violinist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Parrouchi, Bernard (cellist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Rogers, Will, 1879-1935  Search this
Rubinoff (violinist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Schumsky, Oscar (violinist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Seidel, Sasha (violinist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Taylor, Millard (violinist) -- Form subdivision--Photographs  Search this
Musician:
Gibbons, Mary Fulton  Search this
Extent:
1 Cubic foot (9 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Notebooks
Tear sheets
Certificates
Date:
1916-1987
Scope and Contents:
The largest number of items in the collection are publicity portrait photoprints, autographed by the subjects and presented to Albert Moglie; obviously they were professional musicians for whom Moglie did repair and restoration work. Most of the musicians are violinists, such as Fritz Kreisler and Rubinoff, although cellists, including Pablo Casals, are included as well. Their complimentary comments on the photographs attest to their confidence in Moglie's work. The photographers and studios represented include Harris & Ewing, Ramon Scavelli, and Mishkin. There are also photographs of Moglie at work in his shop, and a large group photograph of the Washington, D.C., National Symphony Orchestra, 1933 1934 season. The collection includes a total of 57 photoprints. Although a number of well-known musicians' portraits are included, some signatures are illegible, so the subjects have not been identified.

There are also certificates, an advertising postcard, offprints about Moglie from Music Trade (Dec. 27, 1917), a notebook on auctioned instruments (1981 through 1985), calendars, samples of Moglie's stationery, business cards, photographs of violins, price lists, and of other documents. These photographs and documents form Series 1.

Series 2 consists of ledgers for Moglie's business transactions. These items are in poor condition and fairly untidy. They contain miscellaneous loose papers, some of which may be removed from the ledgers, as their locations within the pages of the ledgers seems random.

Series 3, which was not transferred to the Archives Center from the Musical History Collection until 2006, consists of Albert Moglie's business documents of various sorts including correspondence, notes, bills of sale, and certificates of authenticity and valuation for various instruments. Instruments include some by Stradivarius, Guarneri, Gagliano, Eberle, Gabrielli and Amati. Of particular interest are the documents attesting to Mr. Moglie's success, including letters of appreciation from clients, letters from Presidents Carter and Nixon, an autographed photographic portrait of the Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe, a certificate of knighthood from the Republic of Italy, a commemorative certificate from the National Symphony Orchestra on the occasion of Mr. Moglie's ninetieth birthday and documents commemorating a concert given by the Julliard String Quartet also to celebrate his birthday. Also included are promotional literature on some of Mr. Moglie's clients and copies of newspaper articles about Mr. Moglie. There are also some personal photographs of unidentified people.
Arrangement:
The collection is divided into three series.

Series 1: Photoprints and documents, 1916-1966

Series 2: Ledgers, 1920-1934

Series 3: Business Papers, 1919-1987
Biographical / Historical:
Albert F. Moglie, master violinmaker and repairman, operated a violin repair and restoration business in Washington, D.C., and other cities for many years. Born in Rome, his mother was a concert pianist and young Albert studied the violin, but he was more interested in making and repairing such instruments than playing them. He soon became an expert craftsman in this specialized field and at age 24, in 1914, he was brought to be the United States to care for the Stradivarius collection of Rudolph Wurlitzer in Cincinnati. Later sent to New York by Wurlitzer, Moglie opened his own shop near Times Square; subsequently he tended the Henry Ford violin collection in Detroit.

Moglie came to Washington in 1922 and opened a shop. In 1926 he married his wife Loretta, whom he had met in Cincinnati years earlier. In addition to operating his own Washington shop for more than fifty years, he was conservator for the Stradivarius violins in the Library of Congress collection. His third shop occupied a perpetually cluttered third floor space in the Franklin Building at 1329 F Street, N.W., since 1941, which finally closed on July 1, 1987, and Moglie retired.

Due to the impending closing of the shop, Mr. and Mrs. Moglie donated a number of artifacts, instruments and tools to this Museum's Division of Musical History, through Gary Sturm, collections manager, in 1987, and the photographs and related documents came to the Archives Center at that time.2 Mr. Moglie died in 1998, shortly after his retirement.

Source

Eugene L. Meyer. "Violins Lose Artist's Touch: Maestro Repairman Retires at 96," The Washington Post, June 12, 1987, pp. E1 E2.
Separated Materials:
Related objects are held in the Division of Culture and the Arts and include viloin shop signs, violins, stools, bending iron, workbench, and violin parts. See Accessions number 1987.0472, 1987.0501, and 1987.0583.
Provenance:
Collection donated by Loretta and Albert Moglie, June 15, 1987.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Violinists  Search this
Violins -- 1910-1960  Search this
Musical instruments  Search this
Repairing -- Musical instruments  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- 20th century
Notebooks
Tear sheets
Certificates
Citation:
The Albert F. Moglie Violinists and Violin-Making Collection, ca. 1917-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Gift of Loretta and Albert Moglie.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0283
See more items in:
Albert F. Moglie Violinists and Violin-Making Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0283
Online Media:

John and Devra Hall Levy Collection

Performer:
Lincoln, Abbey, 1930 -  Search this
Adderly, Nat, 1931-  Search this
Wilson, Nancy, 1937-  Search this
Mbulu, Letta  Search this
Adderley, Cannonball  Search this
Montgomery, Wes, 1925-1968  Search this
Horn, Shirley, 1934-  Search this
Donor:
Levy, Devra Hall  Search this
Creator:
Levy, John, 1912-2012  Search this
Extent:
23.6 Cubic feet (96 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Financial records
Interviews
Press releases
Schedules
Contracts
Correspondence
Itineraries
Articles
Scrapbooks
Business records
Videotapes
Audiotapes
Professional papers
Photographs
Date:
1916-2010, undated
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents Levy's short career as a musician, his longer career as a manager, and the careers of some of his clients. The client most well represented in the collection is Nancy Wilson, with recordings, photographs, correspondence, financial statements, and contracts included. Papers relating to other clients include business records such as ledgers, scheduling information, itineraries, and contracts; publicity materials such as articles, press kits, photographs, and videotapes; personal correspondence; photographs; oral history interviews; scrapbook pages; recordings, some commercial and some non-commercial; and miscellany. The non-commercial recordings feature artists including Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderley, Nat Adderly, Abbey Lincoln, Wes Montgomery, Shirley Horn, Letta Mbulu, and others. Also included are some of Wes Montgomery's music manuscripts.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into six series.

Series 1: Personal Papers, 1916-2010, undated

Series 2: Business Records, 1957-2007, undated Series 3: Photographic Materials, 1963-2002, undated

Series 4: Artist Files, 1942-2001-05-12

Series 5: Joe Williams, 1962-2007, undated

Series 6: Nancy Wilson, 1959-2008, undated
Biographical / Historical:
John Levy was a renowned leading representative of jazz musicians and was the first African American to work in the music industry as a personal manager. Born in 1912 in New Orleans, Louisiana his family moved to Chicago when he was six. By the early 1940s he had begun playing bass in jazz bands around town. In 1944, Levy left Chicago with the Stuff Smith Trio to play an extended engagement at the Onyx Club on New York City's 52nd Street. Over the next years, he played and recorded with many jazz notables, including Ben Webster, Buddy Rich, Errol Garner, Rex Stewart, Milt Jackson, and Billy Taylor, as well as with Billie Holiday at her comeback performance at Carnegie Hall in 1948. In 1949, blind pianist George Shearing hired Levy for his own group and as they toured the country, Levy gradually took on the role of road manager. By 1951, Levy stopped performing to become the group's full-time manager, making history as the first African American manager of a major musical group, and establishing the career he would continue for the next fifty years.

Levy's client roster included many major artists, including Nat and Cannonball Adderley, Betty Carter, Roberta Flack, Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn, Freddie Hubbard, Ahmad Jamal, Ramsey Lewis, Abbey Lincoln, Herbie Mann, Wes Montgomery, Carol Sloane, Joe Williams, and Nancy Wilson, as well as Arsenio Hall (the only comedian he has managed among some one hundred entertainers). In recognition of his achievements, Levy has received numerous awards, including induction into the International Jazz Hall of Fame (1997), receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Jazz Society (2002), and being named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master (2006). His autobiography, Men, Women, and Girl Singers: My Life as a Musician Turned Talent Manager, written with his wife Devra Hall, was published in 2001 and expanded into a photograph book, Strollin': A Jazz Life through John Levy's Personal Lens, released in 2008 on the occasion of his 96th birthday. Levy died in 2012 at the age of ninety-nine in Altadena, California.
Related Materials:
Bobby Short Papers
Provenance:
Donated to the Archives Center in 2011 by Devra Hall Levy.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Musicians -- United States  Search this
Jazz musicians -- United States  Search this
Music trade -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
African American musicians  Search this
Sound recordings -- Album covers  Search this
Sound recordings -- Jazz -- 1930-1990 -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Financial records -- 20th century
Interviews
Press releases
Schedules
Contracts
Correspondence -- 20th century
Itineraries
Articles
Scrapbooks
Business records -- 20th century
Videotapes
Audiotapes
Professional papers -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Citation:
John and Devra Hall Levy Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1221
See more items in:
John and Devra Hall Levy Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1221

Musicians and technology, 1920-1960s : a brief history of the American Federation of Musicians : a dissertation / by John Anthony Mancini

Author:
Mancini, John Anthony  Search this
Catholic University of America Department of History  Search this
Subject:
American Federation of Musicians  Search this
Physical description:
176 p. ; 24 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
2001
1996
20th century
Topic:
Musicians--Labor unions  Search this
Sound recording industry--History  Search this
Music--Economic aspects  Search this
Music trade  Search this
Call number:
ML3795 .M36 1996a
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_686521

The purveyor as patron : the contribution of American piano manufacturers and merchants to musical culture in the United States, 1851-1914 / David Eugene Campbell

Author:
Campbell, David Eugene  Search this
Physical description:
2 v. (xxx, 544 leaves) : ill., facsims., music
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1999
1984
19th century
20th century
Topic:
Music--History and criticism  Search this
Art patronage  Search this
Piano makers  Search this
Music trade--History  Search this
Call number:
ML200.4 .C36 1984a
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_562255

The piano in America, 1890-1940 / Craig H. Roell

Author:
Roell, Craig H  Search this
Physical description:
xix, 396 p. : ill., ports. ; 24 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1989
C1989
19th century
20th century
Topic:
Piano--History  Search this
Music trade  Search this
Music--History and criticism  Search this
Call number:
ML661.R64 1989X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_362962

The death of rhythm and blues / Nelson George

Author:
George, Nelson  Search this
Physical description:
xvi, 222 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1988
20th century
Topic:
African Americans--Music--History and criticism  Search this
Music--History and criticism  Search this
Music trade  Search this
Call number:
ML3556.G46 1988X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_363083

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