Skip to main content

The Isidor Achron Papers

Call Number: MSS 68

Scope and Contents

The Isidor Achron Papers document the careers of Achron and his wife, singer Lea Karina. The Papers hold sketches, manuscript music, and printed editions of Achron's musical compositions, as well as songs which other composers wrote specifically for Karina. The Papers also include correspondence, photographs, programs, clippings, biographical materials, and miscellaneous materials relating to both Jascha Heifetz and Achron's pupil, popular singer Hildegarde.


  • 1922-1989 (inclusive)


Language of Materials

Materials chiefly in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers by appointment. There are no restricted materials in the collection. Please contact the Special Collections staff to schedule an appointment. Some of the materials may be stored at the Library's off-campus shelving facility, so researchers should allow at least two business days to have the appropriate boxes paged.

Conditions Governing Use

The Isidor Achron Papers are the physical property of the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library of Yale University. Copyrights belong to the composers and authors, or their legal heirs and assigns.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Isidor Achron Papers were established in the Music Library of Yale University by Mrs. Lois Chazen in 1992.


In 10 series as follows: I. Music. II. Correspondence of I. Achron and L. Karina. III. Photographs. IV. Programs and Clippings. V. Legal Documents. VI. Publicity and Biographical Material. VII. Miscellaneous. VIII. Additional Materials Relating to Jascha Heifetz. IX. Additional Materials Relating to Hildegarde. X. Sound Recordings


1.5 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Music, correspondence, photographs, and additional materials by and about the composer and pianist Isidor Achron (1892-1948).

Biographical / Historical

Born November 24, 1892, in Warsaw, Achron received his early musical training from his father. He later attended the St. Petersburg Conservatory where he studied piano with Annette Essipoff and Nicolai Doubsassoff, composition with Anatol Liadoff, and orchestration with Max Steinberg. He received his artist's diploma in 1915 and embarked on his first concert tour of Russia. Further plans for performing were interrupted by World War I, however, with Achron being called to serve three years in the Russian army.

In 1922 Achron emigrated to the United States, becoming a citizen in 1928. Achron's life changed on March 21, 1923 when he received an urgent telegram from Jascha Heifetz that read, "I am offering you a position as accompanist for tour beginning May 1, 1923 terminating May 1, 1924 including tour of the orient." For the next ten years Achron served as Heifetz's principal accompanist, recording an extensive discography and performing chamber and solo recitals in major music centers all over the world.

On June 14, 1935 Achron married the mezzo-soprano Lea Karina. Karina, born in Helsinki in 1914, made her singing debut with the Helsingfors Symphony Orchestra in 1931 under the baton of Jean Sibelius. She was an accomplished pianist as well as singer who was able to perform vocal repertoire in nine different languages. In 1941 she made her New York debut at Town Hall with her husband accompanying. She went on to have a successful career in radio and later served as audio director for the popular television show Your Hit Parade. Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Nicolas Slonimsky were among the composers who dedicated songs to her.

The mid 1930s witnessed Achron's return to solo performance as well as serious work as a composer. In 1937 he completed his First Concerto for Piano and Orchestra which he premiered on December 9, 1937 at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic, John Barbirolli conducting. He later performed the concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Colonne Orchestra of Paris. Major publishers began to show interest in Achron's compositions with the publication of the First Piano Concerto and the first Sonnet for violin and piano in 1939 both by Carl Fischer, Inc. In 1937, Achron's song "Do You Know That The Moon Can Talk" was published by Chappell & Co., Ltd. under the pseudonym of Julian Dorr while the Suite Grotesque for piano was published in 1943 by G. Schirmer. Among those to whom Achron dedicated compositions were Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin, Gregor Piatigorsky, and Mischa Elman. In 1946 Achron gave his final Carnegie Hall recital performing his own solo works as well as pieces by Mozart, Ravel, Liszt, and Chopin. He died suddenly on May 12, 1948 in New York City. Lea Karina remained in New York City teaching voice lessons and continuing her work in radio. She died on December 22, 1988. The lives and careers of both Achron and Karina are documented in the Papers with manuscript and published music, correspondence, programs, reviews, photographs, and miscellaneous materials.

The Isidor Achron Papers also contain additional material of Jascha Heifetz and Lea Karina's student Hildegarde Loretta Sell, the popular ballroom singer and radio personality of the 1930s and 40s. The Heifetz material consists of magazine articles, newspaper clippings, concert programs, and a caricature of Heifetz and Achron. The Hildegarde material consists of music, correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, programs, and publicity material.
Register to The Isidor Achron Papers
Edited Full Draft
Compiled by John Mangan
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Music Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Gilmore Music Library Repository

120 High Street
PO Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520 US
(203) 432-0497

Opening Hours