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Collection Roman Totenberg Papers

About this Collection

The violinist Roman Totenberg enjoyed an extraordinarily long and varied career. Born on January 1, 1911 in Łódź, Poland, he moved as a child with his family to Moscow where he first studied the violin and witnessed the Russian Revolution firsthand. He continued his studies in Warsaw as a teen, followed by study with Carl Flesch in Berlin and Georges Enescu in Paris. Having established himself internationally, in 1938 he chose to emigrate to the United States, where he went to extraordinary lengths to aid family and friends trapped in Poland during World War II and the Holocaust. He served as the director of chamber music at WQXR and first violinist of the WQXR Quartet from 1940 to 1942 and later performed as the founding violinist of the Alma Trio, with whom he collaborated from 1948 to 1951. While continuing to perform as a soloist internationally, Totenberg established a distinguished legacy as a pedagogue, teaching at Peabody Conservatory, the Mannes College of Music, the Music Academy of the West, the Aspen Music Festival, Boston University, Tanglewood, Kneisel Hall, and the Longy School of Music. He maintained an extensive repertoire and championed many compositions of his contemporaries, including works by Szymanowski, Milhaud, Hindemith, Barber, Copland, Schoenberg, and William Schuman. Totenberg died in 2012, after which his family donated his papers to the Library of Congress. With the generous support of his family, the Library of Congress makes available here exemplary materials from Totenberg’s life, featuring annotated violin parts, as well as photographs, correspondence, and other documents from his distinctive career.