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Abram Chasins Collection

 Collection 0017-IPAM
A pianist, composer, pedagogue, musical director, and music writer, Abram Chasins was an active performer throughout his career. He gave many solo recitals, concerts with leading orchestras, and piano duets with his wife, Constance Keene, throughout the United States. Chasins also was a lecturer at the Curtis Institute of Music, Musician-in-Residence at the University of Southern California, and an active adjudicator. In addition, Chasins composed many pieces, including two piano concertos and numerous piano transcriptions. Chasins also was a musical director for radio stations NBC and WQXR and wrote numerous books, including one on "Speaking of Pianists". The collection consists of 28.00 Linear Feet of concert programs, reviews, correspondence, photographs, advertisements, articles, published and unpublished scores, recordings, scrapbooks, photographs, artwork, and other miscellaneous documents related to Chasins career as a performer, author, musical director, composer, and lecturer, and his relationships with his close colleagues, including Josef Hofmann, Hendrick Wilhelm Van Loon, and his wife, Constance Keene.

Dates

  • Circa 1904-1990
  • Majority of material found within 1932-1985

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Because of the brittle nature of the press books, they were microfilmed by the University of Maryland. This microfilm (1 reel) is included in Box 16, Performance File. Users will generally be required to use the films to avoid further deterioration of the scrapbooks.

Extent

28.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Abram Chasins Collection covers the period from Circa 1904-1990; the bulk of the materials date from 1932-1985, and the collection is 28.00 Linear Feet. The collection consists of both personal and professional papers including published and unpublished scores, recordings, books, lecture notes, correspondence, photographs, artwork, address books, scrapbooks, subject files, articles, programs, and publicity materials related to Chasins work as a pianist, composer, radio broadcaster, lecturer, and writer, including his piano transcriptions and concertos, his broadcasts for radio stations NBC and WQXR, and his piano duets with his wife, Constance Keene.

Biography

Summary: Abram Chasins was born in New York City. He taught at the Curtis Institute (1926-1935) and appeared in solo recitals and with leading orchestras everywhere (1935-1946). He made his professional debut playing the solo part in his own Piano Concerto No. 1 in F minor (1928) with the Philadelphia Orchestra and became the first American composer of the younger generation to be performed by Arturo Toscanini. Chasins often played and recorded duo-piano works with his wife, the pianist Constance Keene. When Mr. Chasins retired from concertizing (1946), he became the musical director of WQXR, the radio network of The New York Times. Chasins also published several books and was an adjudicator for various piano competitions, including the Van Cliburn Competition.

Full History: When the most versatile musicians in the history of American music are reckoned up, the name of Abram Chasins must surely find a very prominent place on the roster. He has excelled as composer, pianist, musicologist, author, pedagogue (in both the studio and the classroom), and media administrator.

Born in New York City, Mr. Chasins studied at The Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute, and Columbia University. His major teachers included such legendary musicians as Ernest Hutcheson and Josef Hofmann. From 1926 to 1935 he taught at Curtis, and for a decade beginning in 1935 he was an outstanding pianist throughout the world, appearing in solo recitals and with leading orchestras everywhere. Besides his solo engagements and recordings, he also played and recorded duo-piano works with his wife, the pianist Constance Keene.

But he became famous for many other aspects of his musical career as well. More than a hundred of his compositions have been published, performed, and recorded. As fortune would have it, he made his professional debut playing the solo part in his own Piano Concerto No. 1 in F minor (1928) with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Ossip Gabilowitsch at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia and, later, Carnegie Hall in New York. He also played his second Piano Concerto, in F sharp minor, dating from 1931, with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. He attained an international reputation in his early 20s as a protg of Josef Hofmann. Subsequently he became the first American composer of the younger generation to be performed by Arturo Toscanini; the great maestro chose his "Parade" and "Flirtation in a Chinese Garden" for a concert with the New York Philharmonic. Mr. Chasins retired from the concert stage in 1946 to devote himself entirely to the musical directorship of radio station WQXR, the radio network of The New York Times with which he had been affiliated since 1943. His tenure established a nation-wide standard for classical music programming which has never been surpassed.

"Speaking of Pianists" (Alfred Knopf: 1957) was Mr. Chasins's first published book; it has become an international source book. Other volumes from his hand, among them "The Van Cliburn Legend" (Doubleday: 1959), "The Appreciation of Music" (Crown: 1966), "Music at the Crossroads" (Macmillan: 1972), and "Leopold Stokowski, A Profile" (Hawthorne: 1979), also won wide attention.

As an adjudicator Mr. Chasins has served on jury panels for the Van Cliburn and National Federation of Music Clubs competitions, the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera auditions, the Chopin Prize, and the Rachmaninoff and Leventritt Formdation awards.

Mr. Chasins was invited to become Musician-in-Residence at the University of Southern California, a post created specially for him. In the course of his stay he was honored by the City of Los Angeles for "distinguished service in transfonning USC's campus 'rock station' into a strong cultural force and a nationally prominent broadcasting entity," Previously, as a juror for the Cliburn Competition, he had been named an "Honorary Citizen of the State of Texas."

Arrangement

This collection is organized into ten series.
  1. Series 1: Music Manuscripts
  2. Series 2: Published Scores
  3. Series 3: Sound Recordings
  4. Series 4: Writings
  5. Series 5: Performance Files
  6. Series 6: Scrapbooks
  7. Series 7: Correspondence
  8. Series 8: Subject Files
  9. Series 9: Photographs and Artwork
  10. Series 10: Miscellaneous

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Chasins's widow, Constance Keene, in June 1988.

Related Material

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Processing Information

An item-level inventory of scores and recordings is available upon request.
Title
Abram Chasins Collection
Status
Completed
Author
This collection was processed by Akiko Nakanishi., November 1994.
Date
1994-11-15
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Sponsor
This collection was donated by Chasins's widow, Constance Keene, in June 1988.

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States