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Collection on prominent figures in historical recorded sound

Call Number: MSS 103

Scope and Contents

This collection was assembled at Historical Sound Recordings, Yale University, to provide supplementary information on, and pictorial images of, prominent figures associated with historical recorded sound. Over one thousand singers, composers, instrumentalists, actors and actresses, collectors, and others are represented. Individual files mostly include photographs, but occasionally there are correspondence and other documents from or pertaining to singers such as Jussi Björling, Lillian Blauvelt, Dame Clara Butt, Maria Callas, Emma Clavé, Feodor Chaliapin, Emmi Destin, Kirsten Flagstad, Beniamino Gigli, Selma Kurz, Blanche Marchesi, Nellie Melba, Ezio Pinza, Rosa Ponselle, and Blake Stern; composers such as Hector Berlioz, Arrigo Boito, Max Bruch, Léo Delibes, Pietri Mascagni, Jules Massenet, and Giacomo Puccini; conductors such as Sir John Barbirolli and Arturo Toscanini, the instrumentalists such as George Copeland, Dame Myra Hess, Wanda Landowska, Joseph Joachim, and Pablo de Sarasate; actresses such as Sarah Bernhardt and Ethel Barrymore; collectors such as Lawrence and Cora Witten, and many others.

The Lilli Lehmann, Victor Maurel, and Giuseppe Verdi files contain a number of handwritten correspondence by each person, many to each other.. Other items within the collection include letters and inscriptions to Madame Maurel from Lydia Lindgren and to Adelina Patti from Mr. Mario; a recording listing from Mado Robin; a manuscript of a musical excerpt from Arturo Toscanini; abulletin from the Vocal Record Collectors’ Society concerning Jean de REszke; and extensive articles and other documents concerning Jean Sibelius. This collection also includes programs and promotional clippings, such as those found in Henry Irving’s folder; articles in several languages, such as found in Heinrich Knote’s and Lillian Nordica’s folders; and sheet music books, such as found in Robert Stolz’s folder.

Most of the photographs are either portraits or images of vocalists posed in operatic roles(such as found in Rene Maison’s folder), both at a photo shoot and candid onstage.

Much of the material in the collection is undated, though many items may be traced empirically to the lifespan of their subject matter. Materials are undated unless otherwise specified.


  • 1800-2000

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.


The collection is arranged alphabetically by surname.


8.75 Linear Feet (5 drawers, 3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


This collection provides supplemental information on more than one thousand preeminent figures directly or indirectly related to historical sound recordings, mostly through photographs and other pictorial images, such as postcards and drawings, as well as through correspondence, clippings, articles, and other promotional material.

Separated Materials

Most material on Enrico Caruso, Geraldine Farrar, and Adelina Patti have been removed and merged into separate collections (see MSS 100, Collection of Enrico Caruso caricatures, photographs, and other material; MSS 101, Collection of Geraldine Farrar correspondence and other material; MSS 102, Collection on Adelina Patti).

Processing Information

Collection processed in 2014. Finding aid created in 2019.

Guide to the Collection on Prominent Figures in Historical Recorded Sound
written by Mark Bailey. Updated (2019) by Michelle Peralta.
January 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
This project was supported by a Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Part of the Gilmore Music Library Repository

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