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Marion and Warner Bass Collection

Identifier: AR 6590/MF 753

Scope and Content Note

The Marion and Warner Bass Collection holds documents describing the work and lives of Warner and Marion Bass. It includes personal documents, correspondence, numerous music scores and sheet music, photographs, essays, notes, concert and recital programs, press releases, and clippings.

Personal documents relating to Warner and Marion Bass will primarily be found in two areas of the collection. Subseries 1 of Series I holds the personal documents of Warner Bass, while Subseries 1 of Series II holds those of Marion Bass. Personal documents include short biographies and entries for Warner Bass in biographical dicationaries, material pertaining to Warner Bass's death, a few documents with educational material for both individuals, some writings by Warner Bass, and notebooks of Marion Bass. Photographs will be found in Series V.

Correspondence of Warner and Marion Bass will be found in the second subseries of both Series I and II. Among the correspondence of Warner Bass are letters to newspapers and the Aufbau columnist Michael Berry, an essay sent to an individual researching Edmund von Borck, and letters from Jan and Alice Peerce. Professional correspondence includes copies of letters with Leopold Stowkowski, with applicants for the Borough of Manhattan Community College orchestra, and with New York University concerning the loss of his position. The small amount of correspondence of Marion Bass includes a few notes sent to her husband. Other correspondence includes letters sent to doctors, a bill reconciliation, and other letters of a general nature.

Documentation of the couple's professional lives will be found in the third subseries of Series I and II. The most prominent of this type of documentation are music scores and song texts. For Warner Bass, musical documentation is largely comprised of scores written by him, including his compositions, arrangements, orchestrations, and transcriptions, as well as copies of music he used as an accompanist to singers. Since Warner Bass frequently accompanied his wife, there are songs included in Series I which are marked as having been part of her repertoire. In addition, this series includes some notes of texts. Marion Bass's professional documention is mainly composed of notes and copies of songtexts she may have used in her performances. In addition, Series II also holds copies of scores used for voice exercises as well as notes on voice instruction. In addition, Series IV contains folders of music scores organized by Marion Bass. Included in that series are works composed and arranged by Warner Bass.

Music will be found in several areas of this collection. In addition to the scores mentioned above, Series III also holds published sheet music apparently collected by Warner and Marion Bass, although its use is not indicated. This music includes both popular songs and folk songs, in the form of individual songs and songbooks.


  • 1888-1992

Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in English, German, and French, with Yiddish, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, Hungarian, and Swedish.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the “Request” button`

Access Restrictions

Researchers must use microfilm (MF 753)

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:

Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011


Biographical Note

Warner Seelig-Bass was born in 1915 in Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany, the son of Eugen Seelig and Helene Bass. His father was an engineer and founder of the factory Spingal and Seelig, which produced electrical motors. After completing his secondary studies at the Saldernsche Gymnasium (Saldria), he attended the University of Berlin, where he studied music and theater studies, philosophy, and foreign languages. He also took classes at the State Academy for Music (Staatlich-Akademischen Hochschule für Musik), also in Berlin. There he majored in conducting, while studying piano and composition.

In 1930 Warner Seelig-Bass became the assistant conductor and composer of stage music for the Kassel State Theater, a position he held until he was dismissed in 1933 for being Jewish. He then became conductor for the Jüdischer Kulturbund Theater, where he conducted both symphonic and operatic performances. In 1938 he emigrated to the United States by way of Cuba, and settled in New York. There he became known as Warner S. (Seeley) Bass.

In 1941 Warner S. Bass married the Polish-born singer Marion Koegel, who performed in the United States under the name of Marion Corda. Marion Koegel was born in Poland in 1909. Like her husband, she had studied music in Berlin and been a member of the Jüdischer Kulturbund, where she performed popular and folk songs.

Warner Bass was called to military service in 1943, eventually heading a military orchestra that performed in Europe for both the armed forces and civilians. After the war he toured Europe as part of the United Service Organization (USO), performing in various areas of the world, including Japan, the Soviet Union, East Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the Phillipines, and South Africa. Following the war, Bass spent several more years traveling, taking positions as a guest conductor as well as an accompanist to solo performers. His appearances as guest conductor included directing the New York Philharmonic, the NBC Symphony of the Air, and the Detroit Opera. As a pianist, Bass worked with Jan Peerce, Roberta Peters, Grace Moore, Marta Eggerth, and Jan Kiepura, as well as his wife, Marion Corda, among others. In addition to his work as a conductor, he also worked as an orchestrator and arranger for RCA Victor. In 1962, Bass became Associate Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stowkowski. The American Symphony performed two of Bass's own compositions: his "Adagio (Taps) for String Instruments, Trumpet, and Percussion," written in memorial of John F. Kennedy and directed by Bass in Carnegie Hall, and his "Song of Hope," which was played under Stowkowski's direction.

In the mid-1960s Bass began working as a professor of music. In 1965 he was appointed a visiting professor at Southhampton College on Long Island. Two years later he was an associate professor of music at New York University's College of Music. While teaching he also began working towards a degree in music education, and received his M.A. from New York University in 1969. That same year he became a professor at CUNY Kingsborough College, a position he held until his death.

Warner Bass won recognition for his work both as a professor and a composer. In 1966 he was elected to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). He was awarded the title of Outstanding Educator of America twice, in 1971 and 1972. His biography also appeared in various biographical dictionaries.

Warner S. Bass died in 1988. His wife, Marion Corda Bass, died in 2000.


6 Linear Feet


This collection describes the work and lives of the composer, conductor, and accompanist Warner S. Bass and his wife, the singer Marion Corda Bass. Most prominent among the materials of this collection are the music scores created by Warner Bass; they include works he composed, arranged, orchestrated, transcribed, or performed. Other items include personal documents, correspondence, published sheet music, photographs, essays, notes, concert and recital programs, press releases, and clippings.

Custodial History

The collection was donated in 1993.


This collection is available on 9 reels of microfilm:

  1. Reel1: 1/1-1/25
  2. Reel 2: 1/26-1/34, including 5/25
  3. Reel 3: 1/35-2/8
  4. Reel 4: 2/29-2/35
  5. Reel 5: 2/36-3/14
  6. Reel 6; 6/1, 3/15-3/27
  7. Reel 7: 3/28-3/35
  8. Reel 8: 4/1-4/21
  9. Reel 9: 4/22-4/36

Related Material

The New York Public Library maintains a collection of sound recordings, some of which feature Warner Bass accompanying Jan Peerce's performances: Peerce (Jan) Collection of Sound Recordings and Video, 1938-1983.

Separated Material

Some photographs have been removed to LBI's Photograph Collection.

Processing Information

The collection was reprocessed in 2006. Similar materials were grouped together to form series and subseries, and description was added to the finding aid.

Guide to the Papers of Marion (1909-2000) and Warner (1915-1988) Bass 1888-1992 AR 6590/MF 753
Processed by Arthur Rath and Dianne Ritchey Oummia
© 2006
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from MarionWarnerBass

Revision Statements

  • 2010-06-10 : encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl
  • February 2007.: Composition by Edmund von Borck added to container list.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States