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Irving Lowens Papers

Abstract

Title:
Irving Lowens Papers
Author/Creator:
Lowens, Irving
Collection number:
86-125-LOW
Size:
128.25 linear feet
Bulk dates:
1952-1983
Inclusive dates:
1885-1995
Collection Area:
Special Collections in Performing Arts
Repository:
Special Collections in Performing Arts, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Contact the curator: http://www.lib.umd.edu/scpa/contact
Abstract:

Irving Lowens (1916-1983) was a music critic, musicologist, librarian, and educator based in the Washington, D.C. area. Among his many roles, he was the Chief Music Critic of the Washington Star newspaper (1960-1978), Assistant Head of the Music Division at the Library of Congress (1961-1966), and Dean of the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University (1978-1981). As a scholar, he specialized in early American music, particularly hymnals, and he authored bibliographies, books, and scholarly articles on the subject. The Irving Lowens Papers consists of both personal and professional papers covers. The collection covers the period from 1885 to 1995; the bulk of the materials date from 1952 to 1983. Documents include correspondence and subject files; published music criticism, writings, and compositions; collected articles and newspaper clippings; employment and professional service materials; performance programs; music festival and travel materials; and research materials.

Important Information for Users of the Collection

Restrictions:

There are no restricted files in this collection.

Preferred citation:

Irving Lowens Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/16692
Publication rights:

Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment: http://www.lib.umd.edu/scpa/contact

Status:

This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Irving Lowens (1916-1983) was a music critic, musicologist, librarian, and educator based in the Washington, D.C. area. He is notable for his role as Chief Music Critic of the Washington Star newspaper (1960-1978), his tenure as Assistant Head of the Music Division at the Library of Congress (1961-1966), his tenure as Dean of the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University (1978-1981), and his authorship of numerous songsters and bibliographies on early American music.

Born in New York City, Lowens completed high school at age thirteen. After traveling in Europe and acquiring foreign-language skills, he returned to the United States and studied music education, music criticism, and composition at the College of the City of New York and at Teachers College, Columbia University, earning a B.S. in Music and Music Education from Teachers College in 1939. In 1957, Lowens earned his M.A. in American Civilization from the University of Maryland, focusing his research on early American music. Soon after, he began doctoral studies in musicology at the University, passing his qualifying exams but never finishing the degree.

After completing his undergraduate education in New York, Lowens worked for the publisher G. Schirmer, providing editorial, research, and production assistance on the journal Musical Quarterly. He went on to serve as reviewer for the journal Musicology. During World War II he served domestically as an air traffic controller in the Civil Aeronautics Administration, and continued in this position at the National Airport after moving to Washington, D.C. in 1947. In 1953, Lowens began to write music reviews for the Washington Star newspaper. In the mid-1950s, he resigned from the CAA to pursue a full-time career in music criticism and research.

In 1959, Lowens joined the Music Division at the Library of Congress, where he was appointed the library's first Sound Recordings Reference Librarian. In 1961, he was promoted to Assistant Head of the Music Division's Reference Section, a position he held until 1966. Meanwhile, he continued to write for the Star, and he became its Chief Music Critic in 1960. He left the Library of Congress in 1966 to join the staff of the Star full-time, and remained its Chief Music Critic until 1978. Lowens was highly regarded as a critic and as a champion of classical music. In 1972 and again in 1977, he was awarded the Deems Taylor Award by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) in recognition of his work.

Lowens had a long-standing interest in academia and held several educational appointments throughout his career. He held visiting teaching positions at Dunbarton College, University of Southern California (as part of a Music Critics Exchange Program), Berkshire Music Center, Aspen School of Music, University of Maryland, and CUNY's Brooklyn College (1975-1976). He joined the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore in 1977, and in 1978 became its Dean. He retired from Peabody with Emeritus status in 1981.

Lowens was also active in numerous professional and scholarly organizations. He was President of the Music Library Association (1965-1966), served on the Executive Board of the American Musicological Society (1964-1965), and was Vice President of the Inter-American Association of Music Critics (1973-1983). He was a founding member of the Music Critics Association in 1956, served as the Association's President (1971-1975), and was Chairmain of the Board of the American Musical Digest, a short-lived scholarly journal published by the MCA (1969-1971). Lowens was the founder and first President of the American Sonneck Society (later the Society for American Music) from 1975-1981, and he helped launch the Society's first official journal, American Music, in 1983. Lowens also served on several awards committees, including the Pulitizer Prize Committee and the Kennedy Center's Friedheim Awards Committee.

While pursuing his career as a critic and a teacher, Lowens was also completing research on American tunebooks, of which he had an extensive personal collection. His scholarly publications include Music and Musicians in Early America (1964), A Bibliography of American Songsters Published Before 1821 (1976), Kentucky Harmony (1976), Music in America and American Music (1978), and Haydn in America (1979). For many years, he collaborated on bibliographical research with Allen P. Britton and Richard Crawford. Lowens also authored numerous journal articles and gave many scholarly presentations throughout his life.

Irving Lowens died in Baltimore on November 14, 1983, and is survived by his wife, the musicologist Margery Morgan Lowens. Irving Lowens's work is commemorated thorugh the Society for American Music's Irving Lowens Awards, presented yearly to the authors of the best book and the best article on American music.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Irving Lowens Papers covers the period from 1885 to 1995; the bulk of the materials date from 1952 to 1983. The collection consists of both the personal and professional papers of music critic and musicologist Irving Lowens. Documents include correspondence and subject files, published music criticism and other writings and music compositions by Irving Lowens, collected articles and newspaper clippings, employment and professional service materials, performance programs, music festival and travel materials, and research materials. The collection reflects Irving Lowens's work as a music critic, musicologist, teacher, and librarian, in both the Washington, D.C. area and internationally.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Gift of Margery Morgan Lowens in several installments, beginning in 1986.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Laura E. Drake, Bonnie Jo Dopp, Kristian Twombly, Cassandra N. Berman

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Cassandra N. Berman, May 2012.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Personal, 1934-1991 and undated (6.25 linear feet)

This series is comprised of Irving Lowens's personal documents. Included are biographical materials, such as education records, curriculum vitae, and photographs; personal records pertaining to health, real estate, and finances; awards presented to Lowens; correspondence with family; and correspondence with Margery Morgan Lowens and other materials relating to their relationship. Materials are arranged into subseries by subject; within the subseries they are primarily arranged by date. Series 1 is arranged into five subseries.

The box inventory for this series is not currently available online. Please refer to the series description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 1.1: Biographical, 1934-1984 and undated (.50 linear feet)

Subseries 1.1 contains documents illuminating Irving Lowens's biographical details, including educational records, published biographical entries (which appeared in Who's Who in America and other biographical encyclopedias), curriculum vitae, and photographs of Lowens and his family.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 1.2: Personal Records, 1948-1983 and undated (0.75 linear feet)

Subseries 1.2 contains the personal records of Irving Lowens, including insurance, health, and financial documents, passports, and information on Lowens's death.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 1.3: Awards, 1961-1978 (0.50 linear feet)

Subseries 1.3 contains information on awards received by Irving Lowens, especially the Moravian Music Foundation's Moramus Award and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers' Deems Taylor Award.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 1.4: Family, 1946-1981 (0.50 linear feet)

Subseries 1.4 consists primarily correspondence and other personal documents relating to Irving Lowens's family and to his first wife, Violet Halper Lowens

Series 1.4, Box 4 is restricted.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 1.5: Margery Morgan Lowens, 1965-1991 and undated (4.00 linear feet)

Subseries 1.5 consists of the personal records of musicologist Margery Morgan Lowens, who married Irving Lowens in 1969. These records relate to Margery Lowens's education, her published materials, and her published biographical entries. This subseries also contains Margery Lowens's personal correspondence with Irving Lowens, with family, and with acquaintances; records and ephemera pertaining to her marriage to Irving Lowens; and documentation of her work establishing the Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Reading Room at the University of Maryland.

Series 1.5, Boxes 4-10 are restricted.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Series 2: Correspondence and Subject Files, 1933-1984 and undated (23.00 linear feet)

This series is comprised of subject files and correspondence with individuals, organizations, and publishing companies as well as invitations to events and telephone messages. Materials are arranged into four subseries; within each subseries, they are arranged either alphabetically or by date.

The box inventory for this series is not currently available online. Please refer to the series description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 2.1: Selected Correspondence, 1952-1984 (1.00 linear foot)

Subseries 2.1 consists of correspondence with noted individuals, many of which were well known in the music world. Original materials have been placed in fireproof housing; photocopies are housed with the collection itself. Items are arranged alphabetically.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 2.2: Condolence Letters, 1983-1984 (0.50 linear feet)

Subseries 2.2 contains condolence letters sent to Margery Lowens after the death of Irving Lowens in 1983. Margery Lowens's responses to these letters are also documented. Materials are arranged alphabetically.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 2.3: Invitations, Telephone Messages, and Cards, 1966-1983 and undated (3.50 linear feet)

Subseries 2.3 contains invitations to various music and cultural events, primarily in the Washington, D.C. area; telephone messages; and personal cards (such as wedding invitations and birthday greetings) received by both Irving and Margery Lowens. Also included are get-well cards sent to Irving Lowens during various illnesses. Please note that while many invitations are contained in this subseries, others will be housed with reviews and with subject files that pertain to the events themselves. Materials are arranged chronologically.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 2.4: Alphabetical Correspondence and Subject Files, 1933-1984 and undated (18.00 linear feet)

Subseries 2.4 consists of the bulk of Irving Lowens's correspondence with individuals, organizations, and publishing companies, as well as subject files. This consists of a mix of professional and personal correspondence, as Irving Lowens maintained close friendships with many of his colleagues in music and the arts. Please note that some correspondence may be housed in other series as appropriate, to maintain context; check also Series 5, 6, 8, and 9. Materials are arranged alphabetically.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Series 3: Music Criticism, Washington Star, by Lowens, 1954-1983 and undated (45.50 linear feet)

Series 3 contains Irving Lowens's music criticism for the Washington, D.C.-based Washington Star and Evening Star newspapers, where Lowens served as Chief Music Critic from 1960 until 1978. Included are reviews, articles, and short news items in both published and draft form. Some pieces are accompanied by related programs, notes, tickets, or other items. Materials are arranged chronologically by article title or review subject. Included are some drafts that were never printed.

The box inventory for this series is not currently available online. Please refer to the series description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Series 4: Music Criticism and Clippings, Not by Lowens, 1952-1985 and undated (7.50 linear feet)

Series 4 is comprised of music criticism, primarily published in newspapers, and both music and non-music related newspaper clippings collected by Irving and Margery Lowens. These materials are divided into three subseries and are organized by date.

The box inventory for this series is not currently available online. Please refer to the series description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 4.1: Selected Articles, 1956-1983 and undated (1.00 linear foot)

Subseries 4.1 contains articles of music criticism selected by Lowens because of the significance of their author, the topic they covered, or the publication in which they were printed. These items are arranged chronologically by author and article title or review subject.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 4.2: Articles and Clippings Organized By Date, 1952-1985 and undated (5.50 linear feet)

Subseries 4.2 contains articles and clippings, primarily from newspapers. Many, though not all, are related to music. Other topics covered include cultural events, politics, and comic strips. Materials are arranged chronologically.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 4.3: Articles and Clippings Mentioning Irving or Margery Lowens, 1953-1984 and undated (1.00 linear foot)

Subseries 4.3 contains articles and clippings, from both newspapers and other types of publications, that mention Irving or Margery Lowens in some way (including quotes, references to work and scholarship, and publication listings). Materials are arranged chronologically.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Series 5: Compositions and Writings, Lowens, 1939-1980 and undated (9.00 linear feet)

This series contains Irving Lowens's music compositions, reflecting his early work as a composer and arranger, and his prolific writings and speeches (those materials not published in the Washington Star or Evening Star). Materials reflect the original file divisions established by Margery Lowens. They are separated into two subseries.

The box inventory for this series is not currently available online. Please refer to the series description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 5.1: Compositions, 1939-1956 and undated (0.25 linear feet)

Subseries 5.1 includes Irving Lowens's original compositions as well as reviews and press related to the performance of these works. Lowens's arrangements of other pieces, as well as poetry and transcriptions authored by both himself and others, are also included. Materials are arranged chronologically.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 5.2: Writings and Speeches, 1958-1980 and undated (8.75 linear feet)

Subseries 5.2 contains drafts, correspondence, and research notes related to Irving Lowens's non-Star writing. Materials include journal and magazine articles, book drafts, speeches, and work written for school assignments. Materials are arranged alphabetically by title. The arrangement retains Margery Lowens's original filing; most items are undated.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Series 6: Employment and Professional Service, 1939-1987 (10.50 linear feet)

This series reflects Irving Lowens's employment, his leadership in several professional organizations, and his work on various grant committees. Materials in this series largely pertain to the administrative, rather than the creative or literary, aspects of Lowens's professional life. This series is divided into three subseries and are arranged by organization and by date.

The box inventory for this series is not currently available online. Please refer to the series description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 6.1: Employment, 1939-1987 and undated (2.25 linear feet)

Subseries 6.1 documents Irving Lowens's employment history, including his work in the Civil Aeronautics Administration Service, his tenure at the Library of Congress and at the Washington Star, his numerous visiting teaching positions, and his tenure at the Peabody Conservatory. Also included are the records of Musicbook Associates, the home business Lowens ran briefly to sell early printed books and music. Please note that pertinent employment information may also be found in Subseries 2.4, Correspondence and Subject Files, though all administrative materials are housed in Subseries 6.1.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 6.2: Professional Organizations, 1946-1983 and undated (5.25 linear feet)

Subseries 6.2 contains the records of those organizations in which Irving Lowens held positions of leadership and was heavily involved. Materials include correspondence, annual meeting and membership records, and organizational publications. The organizations documented in this subseries are the American Musicological Society, the Music Library Association, the Music Critics Association (and its publication, American Musical Digest), the Moravian Music Foundation, and the Inter-American Association of Music Critics. Materials are arranged topically. Please note that the Library of Congress holds materials pertaining to the Sonneck Society, later the Society for American Music, of which Irving Lowens was a founding member and president. This collection has only a few documents pertaining to the Society; these are housed in Series 2.4.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 6.3: Grant Committees, 1966-1983 ad undated (3.00 linear feet)

Subseries 6.3 contains materials related to Irving Lowens's service on behalf of various grant committees for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Maryland Committee for the Humanities/Maryland Humanities Council. Materials are arranged chronologically by organization.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Series 7: Programs and Tickets, 1940-1983 and undated (3.50 linear feet)

This series contains programs and tickets for performances attended but not reviewed by Irving Lowens. Programs are arranged chronologically by year. Please note that programs are also housed in Series 3, alongside many of the reviews Lowens wrote for the Washington Star.

The box inventory for this series is not currently available online. Please refer to the series description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Series 8: Festivals and Travel, 1956-1984 and undated (8.50 linear feet)

Series 8 includes materials on music and arts festivals, both international and domestic, as well as documents pertaining to Irving and Margery Lowens's extensive travels. Materials have been divided into two subseries.

The box inventory for this series is not currently available online. Please refer to the series description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 8.1: Festivals, 1956-1984 (4.50 linear feet)

Subseries 8.1 contains correspondence, programs, travel documentation, notes, and writings related to both international and domestic music and arts festivals attended by Irving Lowens. Materials are arranged by festival name or location.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 8.2: Travel, 1964-1981 and undated (4.00 linear feet)

Subseries 8.2 contains travel documents, such as itineraries, airline tickets, hotel and restaurant information, and brochures. It is organized chronologically. Please note that there may be some overlap between Subseries 8.2 and Subseries 8.1, as Irving Lowens often combined reviewing trips with vacations.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Series 9: Research Materials, 1885-1995 and undated (15.00 linear feet)

Series 9 contains research materials not contained in Series 5.2. These materials reflect general or collaborative research, or research that did not result in discrete publications. Materials are arranged into four subseries.

The box inventory for this series is not currently available online. Please refer to the series description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 9.1: Research and Tunebook Collaboration with Allen P. Britton and Richard Crawford, 1949-1978 (3.00 linear feet)

Subseries 9.1 documents Lowens's collaborative tunebook research with musicologists Allen P. Britton and Richard Crawford, including correspondence, detailed notes, and much of Britton's own academic work. Materials are arranged by topic. Many materials are undated.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 9.2: Research on Louis Lombard, 1885-1995 and undated (7.00 linear feet)

Subseries 9.2 contains research on the turn-of-the-century Swiss composer Louis Lombard. Lowens had planned to write a book about Lombard and Trevano Castle, his home in Lugano, Switzerland. Documents include research notes, correspondence with Lombard's family, unpublished chapter drafts by Lowens, and photographs of Lombard, his family, Trevano Castle, and Gabriel Faur (a friend of the Lombard family). Materials are arranged thematically.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 9.3: Libretti, 1943-1980 and undated (1.50 linear feet)

Subseries 9.3 contains various published libretti that Irving Lowens used to aid him in his scholarly research and his reviews. Materials are arranged alphabetically by librettist or composer.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Subseries 9.4: Other Research Materials, 1955-1983 and undated (3.50 linear feet)

Subseries 9.4 contains assorted research notes and general bibliographic card files. Materials are mostly undated.

The box inventory for this subseries is not currently available online. Please refer to the subseries description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Related Material

Special Collections:

Irving Lowens Tune Book Collection, Moravian Music Foundation Archives. (Information: http://www.moravianmusic.org/resources.html)

Allen P. Britton Papers, MENC Historical Center, Special Collections in Performing Arts, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, University of Maryland (Information: http://lib.guides.umd.edu/scpa_musiced)

American Musicological Foundation Records, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania. (Finding aid: http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/ead/detail.html?id=EAD_upenn_rbml_MsColl221PUSpMsColl221)

Music Library Association Archives, Special Collections in Performing Arts, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, University of Maryland. (Finding aid: http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/2990)

Other Materials:

Holly, Janice E. Irving Lowens and the Washington Star: The Vision, the Demise. Doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland, 2007. (http://drum.lib.umd.edu/bitstream/1903/6837/1/umi-umd-4325.pdf)

Society for American Music, Irving Lowens Book Award. (http://american-music.org/awards/LowensBook.php)

Society for American Music, Irving Lowens Article Award (http://american-music.org/awards/LowensArticle.php)

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

Bibliography

Publications by Irving Lowens (Available at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, University of Maryland):

  • Lowens, Irving. A Bibliography of Songsters Printed in America Before 1821. Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 1976. (Call number: Reference ML128.S3 L7)
  • Lowens, Irving. Haydn in America. Detroit, MI: College Music Society, 1979. (Call number: Reference ML410.H4 L7)
  • Lowens, Irving. Music in America and American Music: Two Views of the Scene, with a Bibliography of the Published Writings of Irving Lowens. New York: City University of New York, 1978.
  • Lowens, Irving. Music and Musicians in Early America. New York: W.W. Norton, 1964. (Call number: Paged Collections ML200 .L7)
  • Irving Lowens also authored numerous forwards and introductions, edited many works, and collaborated with other authors. Many of the published works to which Lowens contributed are available at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library. Please check the library catalog to locate these materials (http://catalog.umd.edu).