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Finding Aid to the Kurt Herbert Adler Papers, 1921-1990, bulk 1954-1987
BANC MSS 89/221 c  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Kurt Herbert Adler papers
    Date (inclusive): 1921-1990,
    Date (bulk): bulk 1954-1987
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 89/221 c
    Creators : Adler, Kurt Herbert
    Extent: Number of containers: 17 cartons, 3 card file boxes, 12 volumes, 1 box, 9 oversize boxes, 1 oversize folder Linear feet: ca. 26
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Abstract: The Kurt Herbert Adler papers, 1921-1990, consist of primary and secondary source materials relating to Maestro Adler's musical career, chiefly as conductor for the San Francisco Opera. The collection contains a small amount of correspondence, programs, and notes documenting Adler's early work in Chicago and on the East Coast, prior to his appointment as Chorus Master of the San Francisco Opera. The bulk of the collection covers the years 1954 to 1987, and includes correspondence, notes, printed materials, annotated scores, clippings, and photographs, chiefly relating to Adler's years with the San Francisco Opera, and as a guest conductor locally, as well as throughout California, other states, and internationally. The papers also include materials relating to his professional activities, plus tributes, honors, and awards recognizing Maestro Adler's contributions to the City of San Francisco and the world of opera. There is a significant body of personal correspondence containing cards and letters from several opera stars with whom Adler regularly worked; notebooks, calendars and appointment books; clipping files; and a small amount of personal and family materials.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English, German, French and Italian
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers

    Access

    Collection is open for research, with the following exceptions: some letters have been sealed until 2047.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94270-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html . Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Kurt Herbert Adler Papers, BANC MSS 89/221 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.
    Additional Notes on Collection:
    Original award plaques are housed in Oversize Box 9; photocopies have been placed in the appropriate files.

    Related Collections

    Books from Kurt Herbert Adler's collection were given to the Music Library, University of California Berkeley.
    San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum (SFPALM) is the official repository for the records of the San Francisco Opera Association and the San Francisco Symphony.

    Separated Material

    Videotapes/sound recordings have been transferred to the Microforms Collection of The Bancroft Library.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Opera--California--San Francisco
    Adler, Kurt Herbert--Photographs
    Adler, Kurt Herbert--Pictorial works
    Opera--California--San Francisco Bay Area--Photographs
    Opera--Illinois--Chicago
    San Francisco Opera--History
    San Francisco Opera--Photographs
    San Francisco Opera--Pictorial works
    Stern Grove Festival Association
    San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.--History
    Merola Opera Program
    Merola, Gaetano
    Merola, Gaetano--Portraits
    Albanese, Licia
    Price, Leontyne
    Pavarotti, Luciano
    Monteaux, Pierre, 1875-1964
    Toscanini, Arturo, 1867-1957
    Bauer-Ecsy, Leni
    Sotomayor, Antonio, 1904-
    Adler, Nancy Miller

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Kurt Herbert Adler Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by Nancy M. Adler on May 16, 1989. Additions were made on July 5, 1989 and August 20, 1990.

    Accruals

    No additions are expected.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Mary Morganti in 2005-2006.

    Biographical Information

    Kurt Herbert Adler was born to Ernst and Ida (Bauer) Adler on April 2, 1905 in Vienna, Austria. The son of a textile manufacturer, he attended preparatory schools in Vienna, and was educated at the Vienna Academy of Music (1922-1926), the Vienna Conservatory of Music, and the University of Vienna (1923-1927). Adler made his debut in 1925 as an orchestral conductor at the Vienna theaters managed by Max Reinhardt, noted European theatrical producer. He continued in that capacity until 1934, at the same time acting as a coach, accompanist, chorus director, and instructor. From 1934 to 1937, he conducted at opera houses in Germany, Italy, and Czechoslovakia. He conducted the Vienna Volksoper for two years, and also made appearances as leader of the Vienna Concert Orchestra. Adler assisted Arturo Toscanini at the 1936 and 1937 Salzburg Festivals, and during the summers served as an instructor at the Salzburg Mozarteum.
    Adler emigrated to the U.S. in 1938, initially for an engagement at the Chicago Opera; he became a U.S. citizen in 1941. He remained as conductor of the Chicago Opera Company for four years, and also led summer symphony concerts. He served as guest conductor of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra in 1942, and during 1945 was a member of the New Opera Company, which performed in New York.
    In 1943, Adler joined the staff of the San Francisco Opera, which was founded in 1923 by his predecessor, Gaetano Merola. Adler began as chorus master (1943-1944), at first commuting from New York, then served as chorus director from 1944 to 1947. He was appointed artistic director in 1953, and named general director in 1956. He organized subsidiary organizations in San Francisco to stage experimental works, to perform in schools and other unconventional opera venues, and to train young singers. More than 300 singers, conductors, directors, and designers made their American debuts with the San Francisco Opera under Mr. Adler's auspices. Adler also conducted the Young People's Concerts of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and beginning in 1949, was a lecturer in music at the University of California, Berkeley, and guest conductor of their symphony orchestra, as well as serving as artistic advisor to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
    Adler's work has received citations from the governments of Italy, Germany, Austria, Russia, France, and England. In 1957, he received the Star of Solidarity from the Italian government "for distinguished service in promoting Italian music and art." In 1958, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music from the University of the Pacific in Stockton for "distinguished leadership in the advancement of music." Following his retirement on December 31, 1981, Adler was named general director emeritus, and continued to be a guest conductor in Europe, Asia, China and throughout North America. In addition to serving on the National Council of the Arts, Adler served on numerous other boards and professional organizations, and is the only lifelong trustee of the National Opera Institute.
    Adler's 1940 marriage to Dianthe Warfel of Plainfield, Illinois produced two children, Kristin Dianthe and Ronald Huntington. They divorced in 1963, and he married Nancy Goodhue Miller of San Francisco in August 1965. They had two children, Sabrina Sif (b. 1980), and Curtis Roman (b. 1983). Kurt Herbert Adler died of a heart attack at his home in Ross, Calif., on February 9, 1988.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Kurt Herbert Adler papers, 1921-1990, consist of primary and secondary source materials relating to Maestro Adler's musical career, chiefly as conductor for the San Francisco Opera. The collection contains a small amount of correspondence, programs, and notes documenting Adler's early work in Chicago and on the East Coast, prior to his appointment as Chorus Master of the San Francisco Opera.
    The bulk of the collection covers the years 1954 to 1987, and includes correspondence, notes, printed materials, annotated scores, clippings, and photographs, chiefly relating to Adler's years as Artistic Director, and later as General Director, of the San Francisco Opera. Contains files relating to a number of subsidiary organizations and programs Adler organized in order to stage experimental works, perform in schools and other unconventional opera venues, and train young singers.
    Maestro Adler often served as a guest conductor locally, as well as throughout California and other states, and internationally, and these events are well documented. He was active professionally, both as a speaker and teacher, and served on the board of several arts organizations. The collection includes tributes, honors, and awards recognizing Maestro Adler's contributions to the City of San Francisco and the world of opera.
    There is a significant body of personal correspondence, containing cards and letters from several opera stars with whom he regularly worked, as well as cards and telegrams from fans. Notebooks, calendars and appointment books, clipping files, and a small amount of personal and family materials complete the collection.