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Guide to the Sylvia Marlowe collection, 1932-1978

Collection Overview


Performing Arts Collections

Collection Identifier


Creator - Composer

Lessard, John, 1920-2003

Creator - Compiler

Marlowe, Sylvia

Creator - Composer

Rieti, Vittorio, 1898-1994

Creator - Composer

Thomson, Virgil, 1896-1989


Sylvia Marlowe collection, 1932-1978, (Bulk, 1950-1970)


2.8 linear ft: 8 boxes

Language of Materials

Languages other than English include French and Italian as musical lyrics and inscriptions on scores.


Sylvia Marlowe (1908-1981) was an important mid-twentieth century American harpsichordist. The Sylvia Marlowe collection documents her performance career, predominantly through scores, many inscribed to her by composers. Additionally, photographs and textual publicity materials provide further context for Marlowe's performances and recordings.

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Sylvia Marlowe collection, MP.0006.01, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

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Biographical Note

American harpsichordist Sylvia Marlowe was born Sapira Marlowe on September 26, 1908, in New York. After learning the piano and organ at school and university, Marlowe continued her musical education at the Ecole Normale in Paris, studying piano, organ, and composition with Nadia Boulanger. It was there that she first heard Wanda Landowska, whose harpsichord playing impressed her deeply, although she did not study with her until years later.

Upon returning to the United States, Marlowe received a national music award to perform Bach’s Das Wohltemperirte Clavier on the piano in a series of radio broadcasts. Gradually she gave up the piano in favor of the harpsichord. For some years she specialized in radio broadcasting, presenting Renaissance and Baroque solo and chamber works as well as a wide range of contemporary music, including jazz and rock. Although she never lost her interest in popular American music, and even performed in nightclubs, she became increasingly focused on concert recitals, performances with orchestra, and recordings. In 1948, Marlowe was appointed to the faculty of the Mannes College of Music in New York. That same year she married French painter Leonid Berman.

Marlowe performed in several tours in North and South America, Europe and Asia. A notable tour was a three month trip through East Asia as part of the State Department's International Cultural Relations Program in 1956. In 1957, she founded the Harpsichord Music Society, a non-profit educational insitution aimed at fostering the study of the harpsichord, as well as the creation of a contemporary repertory. The society also provided scholarships to students and composers. In 1960, musicologist and harpsichordist Kenneth Cooper, one of Marlowe's many pupils, received a scholarship from the society to study at the Mannes College of Music. Marlowe also expanded the literature for the harsichord through commissioned works by Elliot Carter, Alexi Haieff, Alan Hovhaness, Vittorio Reiti, Henri Sauguet, and Virgil Thomson.

Marlowe is one of the figures credited with re-popularising the harpsichord in the United States and around the world. Her performances, teaching, broadcasts, and involvement with new compositions renewed the study of and interest in the instrument.

Sylvia Marlowe died in New York on December 10, 1981.

Sources: Schonberg, Harold C. "American In the Orient." New York Times (1923-Current file) Apr 22 1956: 119. ProQuest. 16 Nov. 2018 .

"Sylvia Marlowe Weds." New York Times (1923-Current file) Jan 09 1948: 24. ProQuest. 16 Nov. 2018 .

Schott, Howard. 2001 "Marlowe [Sapira], Sylvia." Grove Music Online. 16 Nov. 2018. http:////www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000017835.



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Scope and Content of Collection

The collection consists primarily of music manuscripts collected by Sylvia Marlowe, including various composers’ scores, music written for, commissioned, or arranged by Sylvia Marlowe, as well as correspondence, negatives, and other miscellanea. Many of the scores are inscribed to Marlowe by the composer. They may also be accompanied by correspondence from the composer to Marlowe.

The collection also contains photographic materials, mainly consisting of black and white prints and contact sheets from publicity shoots. Also includes photographs of Marlowe's husband, Leonid Berman. Other performers and composers depicted in the photographs series include conductor Ernest Ansermet, Arthur Berger, Elliott Carter, Robert Conant, Pamela Cook, Aaron Copland, Paul Des Marais, Bernard Greenhouse, Alan Hovhanness, John Lessard, Claude Monteux, Rafael Puyana, Vittorio Rieti, Daniel Saidenberg, Henri Sauguet, Harry Shulman, and Virgil Thomson.

The collection does not document Marlowe's involvement with the Mannes School of Music.


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Organization and Arrangement

Arranged in 3 series:

  1. Correspondence and promotional materials, 1946-1976
  2. Photographs, 1950s-1970s
  3. Scores, 1932-1978

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Performing Arts Collections - February 1, 2019

66 5th Avenue
New York, New York, 10011

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Sylvia Marlowe collection, MP.0006.01, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Please contact archivist@newschool.edu for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from The New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Custodial History note

Collection formerly housed in the Harry Scherman Library of Mannes College the New School for Music, formerly Mannes College of Music. No known accession record exists.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from Harry Scherman Library of the Mannes School of Music to The New School Archives and Special Collections, 2015.

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects


  • Concert programs.
  • Photographs.
  • Scores.


  • Harpsichordists.

Personal Name(s)

  • Berman, Leonid, 1896-1976

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Other Finding Aids note

For selected item-level description and images from the Sylvia Marlowe collection, see the New School Archives Digital Collections at http://digitalarchives.library.newschool.edu/index.php/Detail/collections/MP000601

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Collection Inventory

Series I. Correspondence and promotional materials 1946-1976 

Box Folder
Concert programs and invitations, 1946-1969 
6 18-19
Correspondence, 1966-1976 
6 20
Press clippings, 1957-1962 
6 21
Press kit, 1960s 
6 22

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Series II. Photographs 1950s-1970s 

Includes personal photographs of Marlowe with her husband Leonid Berman and with others, and professional photographs such as headshots and concert photographs.

Box Folder
Bach at Town Hall (Photographer: Charles Rossi), undated 
7 1
Berman, Leonid (Photographers: Impact, Photo Fayer), before 1977 
7 2-3
Portrait contact sheets (Photographer: Suzanne Szasz), undated 
7 4-5
Portraits (Photographers: Dwight Godwin, Isadora Bennett and Richard Pleasant, and Plucer), undated 
7 6-12
With others (Photographers: Ben Mancuso, Dwight Godwin, Impact, Suzanne Szasz), undated 
7 13-19

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Series III. Scores 1932-1978 

Box Folder
Adomian, Lan. For Jonathan, 1949 
1 1
Allanbrook, Douglas. 5 Studies in Black and White, undated 
1 2
Arnell, Richard. Concerto for Harpsichord and Chamber Orchestra, undated 
1 3
Balbastre, Claude. Pieces de cCavecin, Selections. 1729-1799, undated 

Reproduction of a score.

1 4
Baldwin, Samuel A. Symphonic Rhapsody No. 4 Rhapsodie Traqique et Heroique, 1934 
1 5
Berger, Arthur. Untitled, 1948 
1 6
Boatrite, Harold. Suite for Harpsichord, 1962 
1 7
Bowles, Paul. Sonatina for Piano, 1932 
1 8
Brant, Henry. Country Dances in Swing, undated 
1 9
Brant, Henry. Divinity, 1973 
1 10
Brant, Henry. Fantasy on French Folk Melodies, 1972 
1 9
Brant, Henry or F.J. Haydn. Sylvia's Spontaneous Concert Cadenza, undated 
1 9
Bush, Alan. Suite for Harpsichord or Pianoforte op. 54, 1962 
1 11
Carter, Elliot. Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello and Harpsichord, 1952 
1 12
Carter, Elliot. Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello and Harpsichord, 1962 
1 13
Cohn, James. Sonata in E for Clavichord, 1965 
1 14
Copland, Aaron. Duo for Flute and Piano, 1971 
1 15
Couperin, Francois. Apotheose de Lully, undated 
1 16
Couperin, Francois. Audite Omnes et Expanescite, undated 
2 1
Couperin, Francois. Le Parnasse ou L'Apotheose de Corelli, 1933 
2 2
Couperin, Francois. Le Parnasse ou L'Apotheose de Corelli, 1962 
2 3
Cowell, Henry. Set of Four, 1954 
2 4
Des Marais, Paul. Theme and Changes for Harpsichord, 1953 
2 5-6
Forqueray, Antoine. Suite in Do Minore, 1941 
2 7
Galuppi, Baldassare. Edited by Richard Howe. Passa Tempo al Cembalo Sonate, 1960 
2 8
Haieff, Alexei. Eclogue, undated 
2 9
Haieff, Alexei. Mask, 1952 
2 9
Haieff, Alexei. Saints' Wheel Variations on a Circle of Fifths for Piano, 1960 
2 10
Haieff, Alexei. Three Bagatelles, 1955 
2 11
Halberstadt, William Harold. Suite for Harpsichord, 1950 
2 12
Harrison, Lou. Six Sonatas for Cembala or Pianoforte, 1943 
2 13
Heilner, Irwin. Boogie Woogie Rhapsody, undated 
2 14
Heilner, Irwin. Boogie Woogie Rhapsody after Albert Ammons, undated 
2 14
Heilner, Irwin. Boogie Woogie Rhapsody Variation I and II, undated 
2 14
Heilner, Irwin. In More Ways Than One, undated 
2 14
Hovhanness, Alan. Bare November Day op 210, undated 
2 15
Hovhanness, Alan. Dark River and Distant Bell for Harpsichord op 212, undated 
2 15
Hovhanness, Alan. Quartet for Flute, Oboe, Cello, and Harpsichord, 1952 
2 16
Hovhanness, Alan. Three Preludes and Fugues, 1935 
2 17
Ibert, J. Partition d'orchestre, undated 
3 1
Intermezzo II and III, undated 
3 2
Koch, John. Sonata for Harpsichord, undated 
3 3
Lee, Noel. Convergences pour Clavecin et Flute, 1972 
3 4
Lee, Noel. Variations for Flute, Oboe, Cello, and Harpsichord, undated 
3 5
Lessard, John. Brawl for Harpsichord, 1952 
3 6
Lessard, John. Concerto for Harpsichord and Chamber Orchestra, 1958 
3 7-8
Lessard, John. Epithalamion, 1962 
3 9
Lessard, John. Six Inventions on a Cantelena and a Fantasy Cantilena , 1965 
3 9
Lessard, John. Toccata in Four Movements for Harpsichord or Piano, 1951 
3 10
Lessard, John. Toccata in Four Movements for Harpsichord or Piano, 1959 
3 11
Lessard, John. Untitled, undated 
3 12
Manziarly, Marcelle de. La Cigale et la Fourmi from 3 Fables de la Fontaine, 1945 
3 13
Manziarly, Marcelle de. La Grenouille Qui Veut Se Faire Aussi Grosse que le Boeuf from 3 Fables de la Fontaine, 1945 
3 13
Manziarly, Marcelle de. Trilogue pour Flute en Sol, Viole de Gambe et Clarecin, 1957 
3 14
Marlowe, Sylvia A. Hommage pour Le Tombeau de Manuel de Falla, 1948 
3 15
Massimo, Leonoe. Trio per Cavicembalo, Flauto e Clarinetto, 1938 
3 16
McPhee, Colin. Kachapi Mas (The Golden Zither), 1955 
3 17
McPhee, Colin. Music from the Balinese Shadow Play. Lagu Delem (Delem's Melody), 1934 
3 17
Milhaud, Darius. Concerto pour Clavecin et Orchestre, 1964 
4 1-2
Mills, Charles. Toccata Erotica for Harpsichord Solo, 1956 
4 3
Nalezny, Bruce. Suite II for Harpsichord, 1967 
4 4
Newman, Theodore. Sonata for Harpsichord, undated 
4 5
Ott, Joseph. Toccata for Solo Harpsichord, 1966 
4 6
Pinkham, Daniel. Partita for Harpsichord, 1964 
4 7-8
Pinkham, Daniel. Sonatina for Violin and Harpsichord, 1946 
4 9
Porter, Quincy. Poem and Dance, 1932 
4 10
Rieti, Vittorio. Alla Francese, 1961 
4 11
Rieti, Vittorio. Concerto for Flute, Viola, Cello, Harp and Harpsicord, 1963 
4 12
Rieti, Vittorio. Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra, 1955, 1972 
4 13-16
Rieti, Vittorio. Partita per Flauto, Oboe, Quartetto d'archi e Clavincembalo Obbligato, 1945 
5 1-4
Rieti, Vittorio. Six Valses, 1942 
5 5
Rieti, Vittorio. Sonata All' Antica, 1946 
5 6
Roberts, R. E. Chamber Concerto for Harpsichord, 1975 
5 7
Rorem, Ned. A Birthday Suite: 12 Very Easy Studies for Piano-4 Hands, 1966-1967 
5 8
Rorem, Ned. Concertino da Camera fir Harpsichord and Flute, Oboe, Bassoon, Cornet (in C), Violin, Viola, Cello, 1946 
5 9
Rorem, Ned. Lovers: A Narrative in Ten Scenes, 1964 
5 10
Rorem, Ned. Spiders for Keyboard, 1968 
5 11
Sauguet, Henri. Medisances; Bavardages (Ritournelle I); Nostalgies, 1962 
5 12
Sauguet, Henri. Suite Royale, 1962 
5 13-14
Shapero, Harold. Partita in C for Harpsichord, 1959 
5 15-16
Smit, Leo. Fantasia in E Minor for Harpsichord Solo, 1953 
6 17
Smith, Russell. Palatine Songs, undated 
6 18
Soares Netto, Calimerio A. Divertimento, 1977 
6 1
Soares Netto, Calimerio A. Sambalele, 1977 

Includes letter from Soares Netto introducing himself.

6 1
Stout, Alan. Lament op. 41B, 1961 
6 2
Stout, Alan. Music for Flute and Cembalo, 1965 
6 2
Stout, Alan. Toccata op. 41D, 1960 
6 2
Sucoff, Herbert. Quartet for Flute, Oboe, Cello and Harpsichord, 1972 
6 3
Templeton, Alec. Haydn Takes to Ridin', 1940 
6 4
Tepper, Albert. Sonata for Harpsichord, 1957 
6 5
Thomson, Virgil. Harmonic Differences: A Portrait of Sylvia Marlowe, 1951 
6 6
Thomson, Virgil. Piano Sonata no. 4, 1946 
6 7
Thomson, Virgil. Portrait of Florine Stettheimer, undated 
6 8
Thomson, Virgil. Portrait of Georges Hugnet (Barcarolle), undated 
6 8
Thomson, Virgil. Portrait of Max Kahn, undated 
6 8
Thomson, Virgil. Portrait of Nicolas de Chatelain, undated 
6 8
Thomson, Virgil. Portrait of Peter Monro Jack, undated 
6 8
Thomson, Virgil. Portrait of Peter Rose Pulham, undated 
6 8
Thomson, Virgil. Portrait of Pierre Mabille, undated 
6 8
Thomson, Virgil. Portrait of Theodate Johnson, undated 
6 8
Thomson, Virgil. Untitled, undated 
6 9
Thorne, Francis. Three Dance Movements for Clarinet and Piano, 1964 
6 10
Trimble, Lester. Four Fragments from The Canterbury Tales, 1958 
6 11
Turok, Paul. Sonata for Harpsichord, op. 35, undated 
6 12
Weber, Ben. Serenade, 1953 
6 13
Weigl, Karl. Pieces for Piano IV: Capriccio, undated 
6 14
Westman, Bernard. Theater for Harpsichord, 1967 
6 15
Wigglesworth, F. Sonata for Harpsichord, undated 
6 16
Williams, David. Five Pieces for Harpsichord, undated 
6 17

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Collection Guide Last Updated: 02/11/2019

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