Randolph S. Rothschild papers, including the Chamber Music Society of Baltimore records
- 1930 - 2005
- Rothschild, Randolph S. (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
62 Cubic Feet (67 boxes, 534 reel-to-reel-tapes, 1 film reel, and 2 oversize items)
Biographical / Historical
Rothschild started piano lessons at the age of eight at the Peabody Preparatory of the Peabody Institute until he was 18. Afterwards, he attended the Johns Hopkins University for two years, where he became a jazz pianist for the Blue Jay Student Jazz Orchestra. He finished his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School. He began his law degree at the University of Pennsylvania, but returned to Baltimore and completed the law degree at the University of Maryland. In 1936 he joined the Sun Life Insurance Company of America, which was founded in 1890 by his father Solomon and uncle Moses Rothschild. He retired in 1976 as the company's vice president and general counsel.
During these working years, his involvement in the musical life of Baltimore continued. Rothschild joined the Chamber Music Society of Baltimore in 1953 as a governing board member. From 1954 to 1993 he served as president of the Chamber Music Society of Baltimore, co-serving with Anthony Stark as Managing Director after 1987, and he served as president emeritus from 1993 until the organization dissolved in 1997 due to shortages of audiences and funds. He was a board member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and served on the committee that suggested contemporary composers for new commissions by the orchestra. From 1978 to approximately 1985, he served on the board of the Peabody Institute and later became a member of the Advisory Council. He has made generous gifts to Peabody as part of their major campaign in 1980 and endowed the Composition Department to champion new music through the Randolph S. Rothschild Fund, which supports scholarships, a visiting professorship for guest composers, and the printing and recording of specially selected student compositions. In 1992, he was awarded the George Peabody Medal for "outstanding contributions to music in America" by the Peabody Institute.
Rothschild's work on behalf of the Chamber Music Society of Baltimore and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to commission works by contemporary composers created his lifetime musical legacy. Personally and through the CMS, Rothschild corresponded regularly with several composers, including Aaron Copland and Elliott Carter. He and his wife, Amalie, frequently invited visiting composers to their home in Baltimore. They also hosted musical performances at their home. In the late 1940s, he set up a professional recording studio in his home, which overlooked the performing area and which originally had the capacity to cut LPs and 16-inch transcription discs and later switched to open-reel and cassette recordings. He recorded not only the performances at his home, but also recorded off-the-air performances of world premieres and first performances of newly commissioned works. (Biography adapted from the Guide to the Randolph S. Rothschild Collection, 1942-1992, Library of Congress Music Division, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.music/eadmus.mu003013. Accessed May 21, 2019.)
The Chamber Music Society of Baltimore was established in 1949 by Hugo Weisgall and Richard Goodman with the aim of creating a community resource that focused on the presentation of concert music, specifically weighted towards newly written works. Regular performance series began in 1951 and continued until the society dissolved in 1997. During its lifetime, the CMS regularly held commissions and gave world premieres, American premieres of recent works, and performances of concert pieces of the twentieth century. The CMS was the only regular chamber music series in Baltimore when it began, and for decades it remained a notable presence for its emphasis on new music, winning an ASCAP award for adventurous programming in 1988.
Scope and Contents
Series 2 through 5 relate primarily to Rothschild's personal interests as a patron of classical music, a board member for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Peabody Institute, and a record collector who maintained an active home studio. Included are files about the BSO and Peabody, scores inscribed to Rothschild by composers he supported, and collected clippings, lists, and other documents about Rothschild's interests in music and record collecting.
Series 6 contains thousands of reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, and phonograph records, most of which were recorded or reproduced by Rothschild himself. Included in this series are recordings of CMS concerts and radio broadcasts, many of which feature twentieth-century classical music or jazz.