Scope and arrangement
The Vera Brodsky Lawrence Papers focus on her work with Scott Joplin’s music, specifically as the editor of Joplin’s Complete Works, and as an instrumental figure in the stage production of Joplin’s opera Treemonisha. The collection also provides some documentation of her career as a concert pianist, primarily in the form of scores, arrangements, and sheet music. Lawrence discarded other items from her first career after the death of her husband in 1964. The remaining materials provide a small amount of insight into her personal life; the other personal papers in the collection do not address her daily life.
The Vera Brodsky Lawrence papers are arranged in six series:
- 1886 - 1980, undated1 linear foot (2 boxes
This series organizes the small amount of personal materials found in Lawrence’s papers. It provides some evidence of her life from the 1920s through 1964, but does not include supporting material that could explain why she saved these items. These papers are mostly connected to a professional aspect of her life. One folder of note is box 2, folder 8, which contains transcripts of a radio series Lawrence prepared for CBS - this is one place that describes her personal feelings about music.
- 1863 - 1991, undated
This series is separated into the two sub-series that arrange all of Lawrence’s projects as a music historian.
- 1929 - 1976, undated2 linear feet (5 boxes
The scores in this series help document the music played by Lawrence, as well as her relationship with various composers. A majority of scores date from her professional pianist career, and some pieces are dedicated or inscribed to her. There are nine scores by her partner Harold Triggs. At the end of the series is a set of transcriptions, some of which were played by Brodsky and Triggs in a concert on February 22, 1935 (New York Times, February 23, 1935).
- 1937 - 1965, undated1 linear foot (3 boxes
Lawrence’s arrangements found here are all ms. vocal or piano scores. Most pieces are undated, and do not contain evidence that Lawrence was the arranger; it is possible that these pieces are from her work as CBS’s staff pianist. The amount of popular songs suggests a different audience than the music found in Series III and V.
- 1864 - 1982, undated2.3 linear feet (7 boxes
The sheet music series further documents the music Lawrence played, with a focus on that played with Harold Triggs. Please note that many folders contain two copies of a piece, with initials usually written on the cover - often each copy was labeled with either an “H” or “V” to signify the person who played it. If a folder meets these criteria, there is a note that says, “parts initialed.” The other significant element of this series is the inscriptions found on many pieces of music, which offer some clues to Lawrence’s performing career. Folders with particularly informative inscriptions include detailed notes.
- 1920 - 1987, undated9.25 linear feet (12 boxes
This series contains oversized materials from the other series, with the exception of personal papers and sheet music. Of note are the Scott Joplin printer proofs used for The Complete Works, and Treemonisha. There are also more images from Music for Patriots, Politicians, and Presidents, and a group of Yiddish theater sheet music (much of this music is in poor condition).