Scope and arrangement
The Otto Luening papers contain Luening's professional files, scores, and family papers dating back to the early 19th century.
His professional papers hold subject files, correspondence, publicity files, concert programs, clippings, photographs, posters, a scrapbook, and school exercise books. They include documentation of his teaching career, particularly his years at Bennington College, Columbia University and Barnard College; his role in the early development of electronic music in the 1950s and the founding of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center; and his writings, including drafts of articles, lectures, and his autobiography. Among the many notable correspondents in his professional files are George Antheil, Ernst Bacon, Henry Cowell, Philipp Jarnach, Severine Neff, Vladimir Ussachevsky, Edgard Varèse, and Frank Wigglesworth.
Luening's scores hold his own music; the compositions of his father, Eugene; and the scores of Luening's students and colleagues. Luening's scores span his entire life and include sketches, rough drafts, finished manuscripts, publishing proofs and some published scores. They include his opera Evangeline; early electronic works in collaboration with Vladimir Ussachvesky; and many pieces for traditional instrumentations, as well as songs and choral works. The scores of Luening's students and colleagues contain music by Ernst Bacon, Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, and Frank Wiggleworth, among many others. Many of them are manuscripts, and most are signed or dedicated to Luening.
Luening's family papers document all his siblings and both sides of his ancestral family (the Luenings and the Jacobs), mostly after their mid-19th century arrival in the United States and their settlement in the Milwaukee area, but also contain pre-immigration papers of both families (as early as 1800). They consist primarily of correspondence between family members, but also include photographs, passports, legal and real estate papers, and birth and baptismal certificates. Among the family correspondence are letters from Otto Luening's uncle Adolf Luening, who fought in the American Civil War, and a letter from an unknown soldier in the Napoleonic Wars.
The Otto Luening papers are arranged in three series:
- 1911-1996105 boxes
This series thoroughly documents Otto Luening's career as a composer, pedagogue, performer, and conductor.
Arranged alphabetically, it holds subject files, correspondence, teaching files, publicity materials, photographs, posters, a scrapbook, and school exercise books. These contents are intermingled in the alphabetical listing. Folder titles denote either a correspondent or a subject file, with the exceptions of format-based titles such as Publicity or Promotional Correspondence.
Subject files can contain correspondence with or regarding the subject, as well as other papers about or photographs of the subject.
Certain subjects, especially the Electronic Music and Teaching Files, are voluminous and sub-divided into their own subject/correspondent listings.
The Publicity files contain clippings, concert programs and posters. They cover Luening's career from 1918 to 1996, and are filed chronologically.
The Electronic Music files document the early work Luening did with Vladimir Ussachevsky, the establishment of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, and several other projects. They hold correspondence, article manuscripts, and grant correspondence with the Rockefeller Foundation, as well discussion of the Bauer-Mengelberg Project, an early effort to develop a computerized method for printing music.
The Teaching files mostly cover Luening's time at the University of Arizona, Bennington College, Columbia University and Barnard College, with smaller files for the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School. They mostly contain inter-faculty and administrative correspondence, as well as course syllabi and correspondence with former students. The teaching files do not contain student work or transcripts; all files denoting student publications or correspondence contains content shared with Luening by his former students.
The Foundation files contain correspondence with and grant applications to the Rockefeller Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, among others.
The Writings files hold unpublished notes, drafts, finished manuscripts, and typescripts for articles, lectures, and Luening's autobiography, The Odyssey of an American Composer. They also contain correspondence regarding the writings. Most of the lectures are unpublished. Some of the lecture files have only notes. Writings, lecture texts, and notes can also be found in the files for the Association of American Colleges, Electronic Music, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, the National Federation of Music Clubs, Phi Beta Kappa, Silver Burdett Books, and in the Teaching files (under both Bennington College and Columbia University/Barnard College). The chapter files for Luening's autobiography contain drafts, notes, and research, including original documentation of events.
The correspondence with Carol June Bradley discusses her catalog of Luening's songs and poetry settings. Notes by Carol Oja took during an interview she did with Luening regarding Colin McPhee are filed under McPhee's name (box 36, folder 7). The file on the MacDowell Association has a photograph of the 1954 attendees of the MacDowell Colony. The correspondence with Severine Neff concerns research Neff was conducting on the music theorist Bernhard Ziehn, and contain transcriptions of correspondence between Ziehn and Eugene Luening.
Other significant figures with correspondence are George Antheil, Fritz Reiner, Ned Rorem, Nicolas Roussakis, Carl Sandburg, Halsey Stevens, Leopold Stokowsky, Virgil Thomson, and Stefan Wolpe. The Students file contains correspondence with Luening's pupils, as well as a list of students Luening taught at various schools. The single scrapbook in this series dates from 1917, and contains German newspaper clippings.
Files without dates hold undated content.
- 1800-198427 boxes
This series contains correspondence, clippings, official papers, writings, and photographs documenting Otto Luening's extended family and ancestors on both his paternal (Luening) and maternal (Jacobs) sides, dating back to the early 19th century. It is arranged alphabetically. Portions of the series, particularly the clippings and older correspondence, are in German. Throughout the series, photographs are mixed with correspondence.
Otto Luening was the youngest of six children. His siblings were Eugene II (nicknamed "Dix"), Frederick, Robert, John (nicknamed "Hans"), and Helene. Eugene II had two sons, Eugene III (nicknamed "Dixie"), and William.
On the Jacobs side, Otto's mother, Emma Jacobs Luening, had five sisters (Claire, Gretchen, Tillie, Hermine, and Helene), and her parents were Colonel William H. Jacobs and Caroline Jacobs. Emma's mother Caroline had a sister, Josephine, and Emma's paternal grandfather was Holzen Jacobs.
On the Luening side, Otto's father, Eugene, had a brother named Adolph. Eugene's father was Frederick August Luening, and Eugene's maternal grandparents were Franz and Xavier Neukirch.
Otto Luening was the last surviving child of Eugene and Emma Luening, and he inherited papers from both sides of his family, as well as those of his siblings. All the individual family members named above are documented to some extent in this series. The figures with the most content are Eugene and Emma Luening, Helene Luening (Otto's sister, a music teacher), and Otto Luening. As a group, however, the Jacobs side of the family has more documentation than the Luening side.
The Eugene and Emma Luening papers hold clippings, writings, photographs, and correspondence with family, friends, and colleagues, including Richard Wagner (although the recipient of the letter is unclear), and the music theorist Bernhard Ziehn. (They also include brief letters from Thomas Edison and Eleanor Roosevelt.) The writings hold essays on music and literature by Eugene Luening (some in German), and diaries and notebooks by both Eugene and Emma Luening. Business and official papers include a ledger from the Luening Conservatory in Milwaukee (later the Wisconsin Conservatory); baptism certificates and real estate transactions; and travel documents.
Helene Luening's papers include correspondence with her family and friends; arrangements and transcriptions of folk and classical songs for voice and piano; programs and clippings; teaching materials; and papers documenting her work with the Works Progress Administration and The New York Public Library.
Otto Luening's family papers are comprised of family correspondence and photographs. They also include a sketch of Luening by the painter Carl Bohnen who Luening met when his family was living in Munich. Otto Luening's correspondence in this series was originally cataloged under call number Music-Am Letters 85-1.
The papers of Otto Luening's other siblings contain correspondence and photographs, and include some documentation of their children as well.
Among the other notable papers in this series are letters from Adolph Luening, the brother of Eugene Luening, which contains discussions of his experieces in the American Civil War; a letter from an unknown soldier to his mother at the end of the German campaign of the Napoleonic Wars in 1814 (found in the Franz and Xavier Neukirch correspondence, with an English translation by Emma Luening); and correspondence between Otto Luening and historians in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, regarding Luening's grandfather Frederick August Luening, one of the town's first settlers.
Many of the clippings in this series are from German newspapers in Milwaukee, or from the Milwaukee Sentinel. Among Eugene Luening's papers is a log of mentions of the Jacobs and Luening families in the Sentinel in the late 19th century.
Files without dates hold undated content.
- 1870-199669 boxes
This series, divided into three sub-series, holds scores by Otto Luening, his father Eugene, and by Otto Luening's students and colleagues. The bulk of the series is comprised of scores for over 300 Luening compositions. They include published and unpublished sketches, scores and parts, dating from his earliest compositional studies as a teenager to his last works in the 1990s. The scores of Luening's students and colleagues contain a mixture of manuscript and published scores, many with notes or dedications to Luening. Composers include Henry Cowell, David Diamond, Lou Harrison, Quincy Porter, and Joan Tower. Eugene Luening's scores, written for various orchestrations, span much of his life and include many educational pieces.
Folders in this series without dates hold undated content.