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Theodore Lettvin Collection

 Collection 0007-IPAM
A performer and music teacher, Theodore Lettvin (1926-2003) performed in many concerts as a soloist with orchestra, in recitals, and as accompanist at the National Gallery of Art, the New York Town Hall, the Phillips Gallery, and various concerts in Germany. Lettvin also was the head of the music department at Cleveland School of Music Settlement, as well as a professor of piano at University of Michigan, New England Conservatory of Music, and Rutgers University. In addition, Lettvin wrote general essays on technique and articles for pianists related to performance careers. This collection contains concert programs, reviews, awards, articles, interviews, photographs, correspondence, recordings, advertisements, biographical sketches, itineraries, and directories related to Lettvin’s career, his involvement with various organizations, including Palm Beach Public, and his relationships with various friends and colleagues, including Robert Shaw, his wife, Joan Lettvin, and Ben Javits.

Dates

  • 1934-2003
  • Majority of material found within 1952-1979

Use and Access to Collection

There are no restricted files in this collection.

Extent

7.75 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Theodore Lettvin Collection covers the period from 1934 to 2003; the bulk of the materials date from 1952 to 1979. The collection consists of concert programs, reviews, articles, interviews, biographical sketches, awards, correspondence, private recordings, photographs, essays, advertisements, itineraries, and directories related to Lettvin’s work as a performer and music educator, including his work at the Cleveland Music School Settlement and the University of Michigan, and with various orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Pops Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Biography

Summary: Theodore Lettvin was born in Chicago on October 29, 1926. He made his debut as soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1939) and performed regularly with major U.S. orchestras afterwards. Lettvin also held numerous positions as a teacher including visiting lecturer at the University of Colorado (1956-1957), head of the piano department at the Cleveland Music School Settlement (1956-1968), professor of piano at the New England Conservatory of Music (1968-1977), the University of Michigan (1977-1987), and Rutgers (from 1987). Theodore Lettvin died on August 24, 2003.

Full History: Theodore Lettvin was born in Chicago on October 29, 1926. From 1930 to 1935 he studied piano with Howard Wells in Chicago, and he continued his studies with Leon Rosenbloom from 1935 to 1941. Lettvin made his debut as soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on March 15, 1939. At the age of fifteen, the young pianist won a scholarship to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where for the next seven years he studied with Rudolf Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski. His career was briefly interrupted for service with the United States Navy in 1945. After resuming his career, Lettvin was the recipient of several prizes including the Naumberg Award in 1948, and the Michaels Award in 1950. While touring Europe and North Africa in 1952, he was called to Brussels to take part in the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium International Competition.

Lettvin performed at London's Wigmore Hall, the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, and New York's Town Hall. He also appeared regularly with the major orchestras of the United States. Among them are the New York Philharmonic and the orchestras of Cleveland, Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Baltimore, Omaha, Seattle, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Atlanta. He appeared at the inauguration of the New York Philharmonic Promenades in the summer of 1964 with Andre Kostelanetz, who invited him to return the following season. He also appeared with the New York Philharmonic under William Steinberg, playing the American premiere of the Bartok Scherzo for Piano and Orchestra. On television he has been seen on The Voice of Firestone, the Chicago Theatre of the Air, with the Boston Symphony, and on educational TV. His recordings have been issued on the HMV and Columbia labels.

Lettvin held numerous positions as a teacher including visiting lecturer at the University of Colorado (1956-1957), head of the piano department at the Cleveland Music School Settlement (1956-1968), professor of piano at the New England Conservatory of Music (1968-1977), the University of Michigan (1977-1987), and Rutgers (from 1987). Lettvin's teaching activities included summer festivals at Marlboro, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Saratoga, and Salzburg. Theodore Lettvin died on August 24, 2003.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into eight series.
  1. Series 1: Subject Files
  2. Series 2: Performance Files
  3. Series 3: Correspondence
  4. Series 4: Writings
  5. Series 5: Photographs
  6. Series 6: Miscellaneous
  7. Series 7: Private Recordings
  8. Series 8: Oversize Materials

Related Material

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Title
Theodore Lettvin Collection
Status
Completed
Author
This collection was processed by Max Brown.
Date
2003-12-10
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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 the family of Theodore Lettvin in 2005.

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

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