Guide to the Papers of Max Kowalski (1882-1956), 1909-1978
AR 7049 / MF 724

Processed by Viola Voss

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2006  Leo Baeck Institute
Finding aid was encoded by Viola Voss on April 28, 2006. Description is in English.
April 04, 2012  Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Kowalski, Max, 1882-1956
Title: Max Kowalski Collection
Dates: 1909-1978
Abstract: This collection holds materials documenting the life and work of the composer and singer Max Kowalski, who was also active as a lawyer. He left Germany in 1939 and immigrated to London, where he died in 1956. The bulk of this collection consists of correspondence with various friends, fellow musicians, and other artists. Also included are concert programs, reviews, biographical articles and obituaries.
Languages: The collection is in German and English.
Quantity: 1 linear foot
Identification: AR 7049 / MF 724
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Max Kowalski was born in Kawal (Poland) in 1882. His family moved to Germany a year after he was born. He studied law in Marburg and worked as a lawyer specializing in copyright law in Frankfurt am Main. In addition, he studied singing and composition with Bernhard Sekles and published his first work, a musical version of Albert Guirraud's Pierrot Lunaire, in 1913. He continued to compose and and published until 1934. In 1938, he was forced to give up his law practice and was imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp. Upon his relase in 1939, he immigrated to London, where he first worked as a piano-tuner and synagogue singer, before he established himself as a singing teacher. He continued to compose, but none of his later songs were published. He died in 1956.

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Scope and Contents

The bulk of this collection consists of letters Max Kowalski received from friends and fellow musicians and artists including composers (Arnold Schönberg and Bernhard Sekles), pianists (Artur Schnabel and Leonid Kreutzer), and authors (Ernst Lissauer and Hermann Hesse). In addition, there are items related to his musical career, such as theater programs and reviews, and an audio tape with some of his songs. Personal items include biographical articles written about him, an extensive collection of obituaries, photographs, and an article he wrote. The collection also contains two oversized pieces of sheet music, handwritten by Clara Plaut and dedicated to Max Kowalski upon his departure from Germany.

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The collection is divided into three series:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

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

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Separated Material

The following item was removed to the LBI library: Die Festwoche des Reichsverbandes Deutscher Tonkünstler und Musiklehrer anlässlich der Internationalen Ausstellung Musik im Leben der Völker in Frankfurt a./M. 16. - 21. August 1927 in der Karikatur von B. F. Dolbin. Berlin : Verlagsanstalt deutscher Tonkünstler, (1927)

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Collection is available on microfilm (MF 724).

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Max Kowalski Collection; AR 7049; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Personal, 1909-1978

This series is in German and English.
7 folders

Scope and Content:

This series contains personal items related to Max Kowalski, such as biographical articles, obituaries and photographs. Also included is an article about the opera Elektra Kowalski wrote for the Allgemeine Musikzeit in 1909, and two pieces of sheet music, handwritten by Clara Plaut and dedicated to Kowalski upon his departure from Germany. Of particular interest might be a letter from 1936 with very harsh anti-Semitic undertones related to a legal case Max Kowalski was involved with.

Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Article 1909
1 2 Biographical Articles undated, 1952, 1957, 1978
1 3 Letter 1936
1 4 Photographs undated, 1948
1 5 Obituaries 1956
1 6 Sheet Music - Copies 1939
Box Folder Title Date
OS 92 Sheet Music - Originals 1939
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Series II: Correspondence, 1910-1957

This series is in German and English.
43 folders


Scope and Content:

This series contains letters Max Kowalski received from friends and colleagues and a few drafts of letters he wrote. Correspondents include the composers Arnold Schönberg and Bernhard Sekles, the artist Arno Nadel, the pianists Artur Schnabel and Leonid Kreutzer, the authors Ernst Lissauer and Hermann Hesse, the conductor and music critic Artur Holde, the flutist Alfred Lichtenstein, and Leo Rosenblüth, kantor and choir master of the Jewish Community in Stockholm. In addition to correspondence, several of these folders hold additional materials such as concert programs, reviews, photographs and articles, which accompanied the letters. Arnold Schönberg's folder also holds materials related to a minor legal dispute, in which he was represented by Max Kowalski. Also included is correspondence with several organizations such as the Jüdischer Kulturbund, the Wirtschaftshilfe der Jüdischen Gemeinde Berlin Abteilung Künstlerhilfe, and the World Center for Jewish Music in Palestine. In 1950, Max Kowalski became a member of the Halykonische Akademie, a loose group of writers and artists founded by the author Otto Erich Hartleben; correspondence with its leader, Alfred von Klement, is included as well.

Box Folder Title Date
1 7 Autographs (Photocopies) 1924, 1926, 1930, 1936
1 8 Behlen, Paul undated
1 9 Blass, Ernst 1917-1919
1 10 Dehmel, ? 1913?
1 11 Drafts undated
1 12 Ettlinger, Karl 1937
1 13 Flesch, Carl 1936
1 14 Goldbaum, Wenzel 1948,1950-1955
1 15 Gutmann, Wilhelm 1928, 1934-1937, 1939
1 16 Heinemann, Alexander 1913, 1916
1 17 Hesse, Hermann undated, 1950, 1952, 1954-1955
1 18 Hirschberg, Herbert 1910
1 19 Hoelm, Alfred 1920
1 20 Holde, Artur 1932, 1946, 1952, 1954-1955
1 21 Holitscher, Arthur 1912, 1916, 1918-1919, 1928, 1930, 1932
1 22 Klement, Alfred 1946, 1950-1951
1 23 Kornfeld, Paul undated
1 24 Krauss, A.? 1949, 1951
1 25 Kreutzer, Leonid undated, 1916, 1920, 1923, 1930, 1933
1 26 Landau, Anneliese 1936-1937, 1939
1 27 Lichtenstein, Alfred 1940, 1942
1 28 Levi, Paul 1921
1 29 Lissauer, Ernst, Grete and Fritz 1916-1919, 1929, 1932, 1940, 1948
1 30 Lothar, Mark 1923-1925
1 31 Lothar, Rudolf undated, 1917-1918, 1948
1 32 Nadel, Arno 1936, 1938-1939
1 33 Organizations 1934-1938, 1950-1951
1 34 Peissachowitsch, Julius 1936-1937
1 35 Pringsheim, Heinz 1951
1 36 Reger, Max undated, 1912, 1916
1 37 Rosenblueth, Leo 1930, 1939-1941, 1947, 1949
1 38 Rostal, Max 1939, 1949
1 39 Rudolf, Max 1948, 1957
1 40 Schilling, Max 1919
1 41 Schnabel, Artur and Therese 1916-1917, 1919, 1921, 1924, 1926, 1948, 1950-1955
1 42 Schönberg, Arnold 1930, 1933-1934, 1948-1949
1 43 Schuricht, Carl 1948, 1951
1 44 Sekles, Bernhard undated, 1917, 1934, 1936
1 45 Sinzheimer, H. 1936
1 46 Sternberg, Leo 1915-1919, 1936-1937
1 47 Unger, Heinz 1921
1 48 Unidentified undated, 1917-1918, 1920, 1937
1 49 Wolff, Ernst 1936, 1938, 1951
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Series III: Musical Career, 1922-1956

This series is in German and English.
4 Folders


Scope and Content:

This series consists of materials related to Max Kowalski's career as a songwriter and singer. Included are concert programs for and reviews of his performances in Germany and Great Britain. Max Kowalski collected reviews of his perfomances for the Jüdische Kulturbund between 1937 and 1937 in a separate album. The series also holds an audiotape with Max Kowalski's song cycles Pierrot Lunaire and Japanischer Frühling and an accompanying article by Susan Morehead.

Box Folder Title Date
1 50 Audio Tape undated
1 51 Concert Programs 1922, 1934-1938, 1940-1943, 1950
1 52 Reviews - Album 1937-1938
1 53 Reviews - Loose 1934, 1936, 1937, 1943, 1948, 1950, 1956
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