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Hannah Noether Collection

 Collection
Identifier: AR 25868

Scope and Contents

The Hannah Noether Collection is divided into three series:

Series I includes Larchmont Chamber Music Circle (LCMC) files, arranged by creator, Lilli Bernstein and Hannah Noether.

Series II contains Hannah Noether’s artist, management and administrative files, which include her research and correspondence with artists and management agencies as part of her work developing concerts for the Larchmont Chamber Music Circle, at Chalet-à-Gobet in Switzerland, and to raise funds for Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. These files also reveal Hannah’s personal interest in classical music and musicians as an active concert-goer.

Series III contains the notes, drafts and manuscript of “Fifty-Two Years of Chamber Music”, by Ursula Noether Blumenthal and David Blumenthal, which documents Hannah’s work planning chamber music concerts for the Larchmont Chamber Music Circle, and as part of a team planning concerts in larger venues to raise money for Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem.

Dates

  • undated, 1910s-1998
  • Majority of material found within 1925-1987

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in English, with a few documents in German and French.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers. Folders 1/3, 1/5, 1/7 and 3/45 are restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection.

Biographical Note

Hannah I. Aschkenasy was born in Cologne, Germany on October 3, 1915. Her father was Louis Aschkenasy, a Zionist from an Orthodox community in Cologne. He was an early benefactor of Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem and passed along his interest in supporting the hospital to his daughter.

Hannah fled Nazi Germany in 1939 for the Netherlands where she became involved with a refugee absorption committee. Through friends there she met her future husband, Rolf E.W. Noether, from Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. They married in the Netherlands before escaping to England, where their daughter Ursula was born “during the blitz”. In late 1940 they emigrated to Quito, Ecuador and then settled in a German-Jewish community in the Riverdale section of the Bronx in New York City. In 1952 they moved to Larchmont, NY. In addition to Ursula, Hannah and Rolf had a second daughter, Carol (later Hochberg). Rolf Noether died in 1979.

Soon after moving to Larchmont Hannah spoke with her fellow European refugee and neighbor Max Perutz about their shared love of chamber music. Together with Fritz Kraemer, “a musicologist”, they came up with the idea of continuing, in Larchmont, the European tradition of hosting chamber music in private homes. Hannah enlisted Mrs. Lilli Bernstein, a concert pianist in her native Germany before her marriage and emigration, and Mrs. Betty Sonfield, a cellist, and together the three women began the Larchmont Chamber Music Circle (LCMC). Hannah concentrated on selecting and scheduling musicians and collaborated with the musicians and their agents to program each concert. Lilli functioned as the LCMC secretary and bookkeeper, maintaining a record of the concerts. Lilli’s husband, Arnold Bernstein, died in 1971, and Lilli died in 1993.

LCMC was funded primarily by selling subscriptions to friends and neighbors, with the size of the audience limited by the size of the various hosts’ living rooms, often up to 60 people; maintaining the intimate atmosphere the founding members had originally sought was critical to the mission of the organization. Most seasons LCMC offered between three and five concerts. Hannah worked closely with Mrs. Rosalie Leventritt, “a prominent patron of music” who sponsored the Leventritt prize for young musicians; and with Dorothy Delay, a well-respected violin teacher at the Julliard School and Sarah Lawrence College. Through these contacts, Hannah engaged talented and promising young musicians who often performed with LCMC for many seasons even after becoming busy and successful musicians. These long-term relationships developed from the musicians’ familial relationship with Hannah, and their enjoyment playing for the knowledgeable and receptive LCMC audiences in the warm atmosphere of people’s homes.

1955-1956 was the first LCMC concert season; the concerts continued for 52 years. LCMC was incorporated in New York state in 1962. Hannah also programmed concerts during her summers in Switzerland at Chalet-à-Gobet and elsewhere, often scheduling musicians well-known to her from LCMC in between their performances at European festivals. And Hannah inherited her father’s legacy of supporting Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. For Hannah, in addition to monetary donations to the hospital, her support took the form of planning annual fundraising concerts, often at Carnegie Hall, together with the staff of what is now the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center, based in New York.

Hannah continued programming concerts through LCMC’s 50th year. There were a few concerts after the 50th season and into the 2005/2006 season. The November 15, 2006 concert was a “commemorative concert honoring Mrs. Hannah Noether”, who had died in February 2006.

Hannah’s daughter Ursula Noether Blumenthal and Ursula’s husband David Blumenthal compiled photographs, programs and correspondence in a manuscript in 2018, “Fifty-Two Years of Chamber Music”, further documenting Hannah’s achievements in providing chamber music locally in Larchmont, and in Switzerland, as well as orchestral music in larger venues in support of Shaare Zedek Hospital.

Extent

3.5 Linear Feet

Abstract

This collection contains the personal papers of Hannah Noether relating to her love of chamber music and her support of young musicians. Included are the files created by Hannah Noether and Lilli Bernstein while organizing chamber music concerts for the Larchmont Chamber Music Circle in Larchmont, NY and other gatherings.

Arrangement

The records are arranged in three series:
  1. Series I: Larchmont Chamber Music Circle (LCMC) Files, undated, 1956-2015
  2. Series II: Hannah Noether Artist and Management Files, undated, 1958-2015
  3. Series III: “Fifty-Two Years of Chamber Music”

Processing Information

Lilli Bernstein died more than twenty years before Hannah and her Larchmont Chamber Music Circle (LCMC) files were combined with Hannah’s before they were donated to the Leo Baeck Institute. Lilli’s files of programs and financial records within the Hannah Noether Collection contain the clearest snapshot of what LCMC was. If donated separately they might have become the institutional records for the Larchmont Chamber Music Circle, but when combined with Hannah Noether’s files, which contain mostly non-LCMC files, the decision was made to process the collection as Hannah’s personal collection. The contribution of Lilli Bernstein to maintaining the records and history of LCMC was enormous; without Lilli’s work on each concert for close to 40 years, and without her record-keeping skills, the history of LCMC would have been impossible to reconstruct 50 years later.

When processing began, there were groups of folders, loose documents and binders; some materials had been tied together with gold string and labeled with strips of paper reading, for example, “Early Materials and History”, “Manuscript”, “Shaarei Zedek Materials”. It is most likely that this organizing was done by Hannah’s daughter Ursula as part of her work on the manuscript about Hannah’s involvement with chamber music, and in preparing the files for transfer to the Leo Baeck archives. These groupings were followed as much as possible during processing.

The first 12 folders in box 1 were originally in folders and were kept in folders. Lilli had maintained everything else in 3-ring binders. All but one of these binders (folder 1/16) were dismantled for better long term preservation of the documents. Copies of the binder covers were placed in the corresponding folders, and the binders were discarded. Bank statements and deposit slips were also discarded.

The artist and management folders in Series II were mainly in transparent plastic folders with no labeling; the titles were taken directly from the contents.

Many of the Shaare Zedek files had been placed, without folders or titles, in an oversized portfolio covered with printed musical notations. During processing the portfolio was discarded and the documents were arranged in acid free folders.

Acid-free folders and other archival materials, including the boxes, have been used throughout the collection. Faxes on thermal paper have been photocopied onto acid-free paper for better long-term preservation of the textual content. If the photocopy was less legible than the original at the time of processing, the original was retained along with the copy.
Title
Guide to the Papers of Hannah Noether
Author
Susan Woodland
Date
2021
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States