Scope and arrangement
The papers and scores in the collection represent the activities and observations of Edith Evans Braun in the American musical scene from 1916 to 1971. The bulk of the collection falls between 1921 and 1957. The collection has been arranged both chronologically and alphabetically, depending on the needs of each particular series grouping.
The files in the collection contain personal correspondence; notes, memoirs, and a diary all referring to performances, musicians, conductors, commissions, rehearsals, and social occasions; ephemera, such as a biographical synopsis, stock certificate in a Menotti work, and flyer for one of Braun's works signed by the many musicians central to the collection; photographs of these same people and more; published scores signed by the composers and inscribed to Edith Evans Braun; and holograph music manuscript sketches.
The correspondence is divided into three groups: first, three letters written by Edith Evans Braun to her mother Mrs. O. H. Evansin the period from 1921 to 1925, and letters written to Edith Evans Braun; secondly letters written to Edith Evans Braun by a variety of people; and third, two letters in the collection neither by nor to Edith Evans Braun. The letters by Braun contain information about Deems Taylor, describing such notable occurrences as his wedding dinner at the Braun's, his composition of “Circus Day” at their home in 1925, and mentioning his commission to the Metropolitan Opera Houseand the symphony (#1) he was composing with Walter Damrosch. The bulk of the series is contained in the letters to Braun from Barber, Menotti, Hofmann, Taylor, and various others. Many of the Menotti letters relate to the founding of Spoleto Festival U.S.A., and the Barber letters are full of news from Capricorn (home of Barber and Menotti) and also about the progression of various Barber compositions.
The diary covers Edith Evans' 1916 tour as piano accompanist with the contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink. It contains descriptions of the concert performances and social activities of the group during the tour, with personal information and commentary about Madame Schumann-Heink. There is an inserted looseleaf sheet with a tour itinerary. The notes and memoirs are recountings of the social and musical doings of Edith Evans Braun, usually in the company of Mary Louise Curtis Bok(later Zimbalist). The professional and personal lives of Samuel Barberand Gian Carlo Menottiare frequent subjects in these reminiscences, as Braun and Bok were friends and supporters of the two composers from an early age via the Curtis Institute of Music and the Curtis Foundation. The memoirs, diary, and notes date from 1916 to 1958, primarily focusing upon the 1930s.
The small ephemeral section of the collection consists of xeroxed biographies of Edith Evans' early years and of her husband John F. Braun, and a program of the 1957 commencement ceremony of the Curtis Institute of Music in which Edith Evans Braun received an honorary music doctorate. From her 1953 trip to Europe there is a postcard, perhaps from the place where the group Zimbalist-Menotti-Braun photograph was taken. Included also is a flyer of Braun's work, and a notecard from Bruno Walter to Mary Zimbalist.
The twelve photographs are of Efrem Zimbalist and Mary Zimbalist and Efrem, Jr., Samuel Barber, Anna Moffo, Edith Evans Braun, Gian Carlo Menotti, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, Rosini Scalero and Andrea Della Porte, Eugene Ormandy, and Josef Hofmann. A few are inscribed to Braun by the subject of the photographs.
The collection of published scores by Deems Taylor and Samuel Barber are all presentation copies, signed and inscribed to Edith Evans Braun by the composers. The use of the address “Gnädige” (German for “gracious lady”) in many of the inscriptions from Barber illustrates the congenial and supportive friendship between Barber and Braun, already apparent from her memoirs. The scores range in publication date from 1918 to 1963.
The sketches are early drafts of works by Deems Taylor and Samuel Barber given to Edith Evans Braun. The discarded pages from Barber's Symphony #1 may be of particular interest to those concerned with the history of this work later withdrawn and repudiated by the composer. There are also two major works by Deems Taylor in early-draft sketch form, “Circus Day ” and “Peter Ibbetson”. The sketches date from 1925 to 1930, with one undated.
The Edith Evans Braun Collection is a valuable research tool through its portrayal of the lives and professional developments of Menotti, Barber, Taylor, and Schumann-Heink from the perspective of a near associate, in addition to mentioning other important figures of the day such as Josef Hofmann and Arturo Toscanini, as they came in contact with the major players in Braun's memoirs. The sketches in the collection are an estimable resource for anyone with interest in the original intellectual development of these composers' musical works, and the letters give an intimate view of the lives of their subjects. As a whole, the collection is an intimate view of the American musical scene of the time seen through the eyes of a knowledgeable and experienced musician.
The Edith Evans Braun collection is arranged in six series: