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Jan Smeterlin Collection

 Collection 0029-IPAM
Perhaps best known for his interpretations and recordings of Chopin works, Jan Smeterlin (1892-1967) was a pianist and author. He performed in various places around the world such as Australia, Canada, the United States, and Europe, and he gave annual concerts in his hometown of London. Smeterlin also wrote books, including a book on the interpretations of Chopin and a recipe book. The collection consists of 10.00 linear feet of scrapbooks, programs, reviews, contracts, legal documents, passports, published writings, manuscripts, biographical materials, photographs, newspaper clippings, and correspondence related to Smeterlin’s career, his hobbies, and his relationships with his close friends and colleagues, including author B.C. Maciejewski, composer Karol Szymanowski, and his wife, Edith Smeterlin.

Dates

  • 1912-1982
  • Majority of material found within 1927-1962

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research use.

Extent

10.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Jan Smeterlin Collection covers the period from 1912 to 1982; the bulk of the materials date from 1927 to 1962. The collection consists of 10.00 linear feet of scrapbooks, programs, reviews, contracts, legal documents, passports, published writings, manuscripts, biographical materials, photographs, newspaper clippings, and correspondence related to Smeterlin’s work as a pianist and author, including his performances in Europe, Australia, New York, and Boston, and his books on music and cooking.

Biography

Summary: Jan Smeterlin, known for his interpretations and recordings of Chopin music, was born in Poland in 1892. He gave his first public concert at age seven playing a Mozart concerto and made his debut in Warsaw, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin (1920). He had concert tours all over the world and gave annual concerts in his hometown of London. His principal teacher was Leopold Godowsky.

Smeterlin started working with composer Karol Szymanowski (1910), who he befriended. When he was not concertizing, he enjoyed cooking. He authored a recipe book which was eventually published after his death. Smeterlin died in London in 1967 at the age of seventy-five.

Full History: Jan Smeterlin, notable for his interpretations of Chopin's piano music, was born in Poland in 1892. He gave his first public concert at the age of seven playing a Mozart concerto. Despite Smeterlin's wishes to become a concert pianist, he was forced to study law. In the midst of his schooling in Vienna, Smeterlin won a scholarship to study with Leopold Godowsky, one of his most significant teachers. Mr. Smeterlin made his debut in 1920 in Warsaw, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin. His concert tours took him to the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Latin America, Java, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, the United States, and all over Europe, not to mention the annual concerts he gave in his home town of London.

Smeterlin had a unique relationship with composer Karol Szymanoski which began in 1910. He not only had the privilege of working with Szymanowski as a colleague, but also shared a friendship which was evident in Szymanowki' s dedication of a volume of mazurkas to Smeterlin. Szymanowki's works were frequently included in his concerts and were often the highlight of his performances.

When he was not concertizing, he enjoyed cooking. He authored a recipe book which was eventually published after his death. Smeterlin had also begun writing a book on the interpretation of Chopin which was he was unable to complete. He had a fondness for animals, especially his dog Tuki-Tuki. During the last years of his life, Jan Smeterlin and his wife, Didi lived in New York. They returned to London for two months when he became ill; he died in 1967 at the age of seventy-five.

Mr. Smeterlin recorded mostly Chopin works. He recorded the complete Nocturnes for Philips, and various Waltzes and Mazurkas for Mace. A Chopin recital was recorded on LP for Allegro. Several 78s for Polydor were produced which contain Chopin's music and Schulz-Evler's arrangement of The Blue Danube. A Brahms recital was recorded for RCA Victor and Scripglen recorded works of Chopin and Szymanowski.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into four series.
  1. Series 1: Performance Files
  2. Series 2: Subject Files
  3. Series 3: Photographs
  4. Series 4: Miscellaneous Items

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Gift of Lilian de Arias, Smeterlin's niece. Received on May 6th, 1998.

Related Material

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Title
Jan Smeterlin Collection
Status
Completed
Author
This collection was processed by Stacey Brown.
Date
1999-02-01
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Sponsor
Gift of Lilian de Arias, Smeterlin's niece. Received on May 6th, 1998.

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

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