Guide to the Papers of Percy Brand (1908-1985), undated, 1949-1995 (bulk 1949-1984)
 
*P-865

Processed by Kate Jeungeun Huh

American Jewish Historical Society, New England Archives

99-101 Newbury St.

Boston, Massachusetts

Phone: (617) 226-1245

Email: reference@ajhsboston.org

URL: http://www.ajhsboston.org

© 2014, American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Kate Jeungeun Huh as MS Word document, March 16, 2009. Finding aid was encoded by Marvin Rusinek on April 7, 2009. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Percy Brand
Title: Percy Brand, papers
Dates:undated, 1949-1995 (bulk 1949-1984)
Abstract: Percy Brand (1908-1985) was a violinist by profession and Holocaust survivor. Born in Liepaja, Latvia on April 2, 1908, he began playing violin at the age of ten. In 1941, when the Germans took control of Latvia and other Baltic countries, Brand was concertmaster of the Riga Latvian Symphony Orchestra. After the SS Einsatzgruppen units occupying Latvia killed his first wife and two children, Brand was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. Playing the violin saved his life during the Holocaust. Brand and his second wife, Gertrude, immigrated to the United States and moved to Boston in 1949, where Brand became a well-known radio and television performer. He died on August 8, 1985, at the age of 77. This collection contains papers and photographs of Percy Brand, chronicling his professional life as a violinist in Boston. Mainly composed of programs and newspaper articles of his performances, the collection has miscellaneous files with name cards, memos, correspondence, and Brand's artwork in pencil, crayon, and watercolor. Also included is the oversized music stand he used when he performed.
Languages: The collection is in English and Hebrew.
Quantity: 0.5 linear feet (1 manuscript box and 2 oversized folders)
Identification: P-865
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located at AJHS, Boston, MA.
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Biographical Note1

Percy (Peretz) Brand, a noted violinist and Holocaust survivor, was born in Liepaja, Latvia on April 2, 1908. He began studying the violin at age 10. When the Germans took control of the Baltic States in 1941 (Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, which bordered Poland and was under Russian control) he was concertmaster of the Riga Latvian Symphony Orchestra.

The SS Einsatzgruppen units that occupied Latvia killed Brand's first wife Sara, son Mendel, and daughter Judith Basya. Brand was first imprisoned in a Jewish ghetto in Riga and later sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. Playing the violin saved his life during the Holocaust. In interviews given after emigration to the United States in 1949, Brand described playing for the ghetto's commandant and being rewarded with food. "Every time they called me to play, I would get a bit of food, probably the only thing that kept me alive", he said.

After liberation, he joined other Buchenwald survivors in the Zionist collective Geringhof, known as Kibbutz Buchenwald, in Fulda, Germany. He continued to play his violin and performed for other survivors in various Displaced Persons (DP) camps. In 1947, he became the first Jew to perform Hebrew and Jewish music over the radio in Frankfurt am Main. He met his second wife, Gertrude (Grunia) Levine, at one of his concerts. Widowed during the Holocaust, she had heard a violinist from her hometown was performing in a concert. They married soon after, and Gertrude also became his manager.

The couple immigrated to the United States under the sponsorship of Harry Marcus, Gertrude's great uncle. They arrived in New York in February 1949, and moved to Boston. Brand became well known as a radio and later television performer in America. He performed for charitable organizations and causes, including the Beth Israel Hospital, Brookline Hospital and the Zionist Organization.

He died on August 8, 1985, at the age of 77, and was survived by Gertrude and his sister Mary, the only family member to survive the war.

Chronology

1908Percy Brand born in Liepaja, Latvia
?-1941Concertmaster of the Riga Latvian Symphony Orchestra
1941-1945Imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany
1945-1949Lived in Fulda, Germany as a violinist, and married Gertrude
1949-1985Emigration to the United States, Violinist in Boston, MA

1 Biographical Note based on information from the following: Materials from the Percy Brand Papers, Obituaries, The Jewish Advocate, Thursday, August 15, 1985, p. 21, another article in newspaper anonymous, undated, and the biographical information provided by the donor, Linda Rakoff.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains papers and photographs of Percy Brand, chronicling his professional life as a violinist in Boston. Mainly composed of programs and newspaper articles of his performances, the collection also has his miscellaneous files with name cards, memos, correspondence to his wife and some photographs of his acquaintances. In addition, the collection includes Brand's artwork in pencil, crayon, and watercolor, some of which are signed, also included is the oversized music stand he used when he performed. The collection is arranged into three series.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged into three series as follows:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:
American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011
email: reference@ajhs.org

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Related Material

Immigrants Mutual Aid Society (I-109)
Rabb Family Papers (P-679)
Greater Boston Committee of the Massachusetts Observance of the American Jewish Tercentenary (I-63)

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Percy Brand, papers; P-865; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY.

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Acquisition Information

Donated to AJHS by Linda Rakoff in 2008.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Container List

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

 

Series I: General, undated, 1953-1986, 1995

The Series is in English and Hebrew.
Box 1, Folders 1-5.
Scope and Content:

This series consists of correspondence mostly to Percy Brand, some to his second wife Gertrude, and others. Miscellaneous materials include his insurance policy, name cards and a sketch-drawing fan letter. In addition, it has articles, obituaries from newspapers, a guest book, and personal and professional photographs. Correspondence and obituaries are arranged chronologically, and undated photographs and miscellaneous papers by subject.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 1 Correspondence 1953-1984
1 2 Miscellaneous undated
1 3 Obituaries 1985-1986, 1995
1 4 Photographs, personal undated
1 5 Photographs, professional undated, 1963
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Series II: Events, undated, 1949-1984

The Series is in English and Hebrew.
Box 1, Folders 6-12.
Scope and Content:

This series includes newspaper articles, programs and three scrapbooks. Most of the contents in the scrapbooks were collected as evidential materials of his performances at various organizations in the Boston area. Correspondence, newspaper articles and programs are arranged chronologically, and undated items like photographs, and papers are by subject.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 6 News clippings undated, 1966-1984
1 7 Programs undated, 1959-1981
1 8 Scrapbook1, events, news clippings and correspondence undated, 1949-1955
1 9 Scrapbook 1, events, programs undated, 1949-1954
1 10 Scrapbook 2, events, general undated, 1949-1956
1 11 Scrapbook 3, events, news clippings and correspondence undated, 1950-1954
1 12 Scrapbook 3, events, programs undated, 1950-1954
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Series III: Oversized material, undated, 1981

1 oversized folder.
Scope and Content:

The oversized material includes his artwork including portraits of unknown people, a still life, and landscape pictures and sketches in pencil, watercolor, and crayon. Some of paintings are signed. Also included is one cardboard music stand printed with Brand’s name. Most paintings are arranged by material (pencil, crayon, and watercolor), and the music stand is kept in a separate folder.

BoxFolderTitleDate
OS Paintings undated, 1981
OS Music stand undated
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