• The John Totten Collection

     

    Descriptive Summary

    Title
    John Totten Collection
    Repository
    Carnegie Hall Archives
    881 Seventh Avenue
    New York, NY 10019
    Phone: (212) 903-9629
    E-mail: archives@carnegiehall.org
    Creator
    Totten, John, 1885-1968
    Date [inclusive]
    1919-1967
    Extent
    11.0 boxes
    Language
    English

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    Historical / Biographical Note

    John Totten (1885-1969) began his career at Carnegie Hall in 1903 as an usher. He frequently escorted Andrew Carnegie to his box in the Main Hall, now known as the Isaac Stern Auditorium. Totten worked his way up through the ranks of Carnegie Hall and became house manager in 1927, a position he held until his retirement in 1968. As house manager, Totten was responsible for the day to day operation of the performance spaces and for arranging all the details associated with the performance. Totten was very competent at handling the pressure backstage and was highly respected by the artists and artists’ managements.

    Totten also aided young artists whom he thought showed promise. When George Gershwin was a young, struggling composer, Totten would sneak him into the Hall to watch performances. He also arranged for Gershwin to rehearse some of his works at Carnegie Hall. Gershwin never forgot Totten's kindness, and the two remained friendly colleagues until Gershwin's untimely death in 1937.

    The amicable relationships Totten developed with various artists over the years aided him in his passion for collecting. Along with his regular duties, Totten collected photographs and autographs of the artists who appeared onstage. During his tenure the house manager's office and backstage walls were covered with autographed photos of the many musicians and performers who appeared at Carnegie Hall.

    In 1955, together with baritone Lawrence Tibbett, John Totten organized the "Save Carnegie Hall Committee" when the building was threatened with demolition. The Committee attempted to raise enough money to buy Carnegie Hall from owner Robert Simon, Jr. The committee did not accomplish its goal, but did raise $6,000 which was given to Isaac Stern and his committee to save Carnegie Hall.

    After the Hall was successfully saved and Philharmonic Hall was completed in 1961, John Totten left Carnegie Hall to become the first house manager of Philharmonic Hall, now Avery Fisher Hall. The reason for his sudden move is not clear. He stayed with the Philharmonic until the end of the 1962-63 season and then returned to Carnegie Hall. Totten finished out his career as house manager and vice president until he retired in 1968. John Totten died May 3, 1969 in Manhattan.

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    Scope and Content Note

    The bulk of the John Totten Collection is from Totten's tenure as House Manager, 1927-1960, during the adminstration of Carnegie Hall Incorporated. The collection consists of three series: Photographs, Administrative Records and the Autograph Book.

    Series one, Photographs, contains two subseries: Photographs signed "To John Totten" and unsigned photographs. The “To John Totten" photographs are autographed by artists, managers, and critics who appeared in Carnegie Hall or were connected to the Hall and the music community. There are 136 signed photographs including Duke Ellington, Vladimir Horowitz, and Arturo Toscanini. The photographs have been conserved and are stored in acid free sleeves and print boxes. The photographs are mounted and on 11" x 14"board. There are sixteen oversize photographs approximately 14" x 18". The use of the photographs is confined to valid projects and when possible copy prints are used. The unsigned photographs consist of approximately 100 black and white 8" x 10 copy prints of John Totten in Carnegie Hall. There are several photographs showing the house manager's office and backstage facilities as they existed in the 1940s and 1950s. Other photographs include group shots of John Totten with artists backstage such as Jack Benny, Arthur Rubinstein, and John Barbirolli. All photographs are housed with the Photograph Collection of Carnegie Hall.

    Series two, Administrative Records contains programs, newspaper clippings and correspondence. The programs are Carnegie Hall concert programs that Totten kept from galas and important performances, such as an autographed Vladimir Horowitz program from April 17, 1966. There is also a program from John Totten's 50th Anniversary Dinner, held on the Main Hall stage (now Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage) on April 28, 1953. There are also photographs of this event in the unsigned photographs portion of his collection. The correspondence dates from 1943 to 1967 and includes letters from conductor Leopold Stokowski, pianist Alfred Wallenstein, as well as others in the music community. The correspondence mainly consists of thank-you letters concerning particular performances and congratulation letters when he became the first house manager of Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall). There are approximately twenty letters of correspondence. The clippings in this collection are primarily essays on the history of Carnegie Hall and include interviews and photographs of John Totten.

    Series three, the Autograph Book contains approximately 100 signatures of artists who have appeared at Carnegie Hall including Irving Berlin, Pablo Casals, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. The book also contains signatures of impresario Sol Hurok, music critic Deems Taylor, and others in the music industry. The book measures 4" x 5" and has been disbound and conserved for preservation purposes.

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    Arrangement

    The collection is arranged in three series: Photographs, Administrative Records and the Autograph Book. The photographs are arranged alphabetically.

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    Administrative Information

    Publication Information

    Carnegie Hall Archives

    Restrictions on Access

    Open for research without restrictions.

    Provenance

    The John Totten Collection is on deposit from the Estate of John Totten. The collection was deposited at the Carnegie Hall Archives in 1986.

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    Controlled Access Headings

    Corporate Name(s)

    • Carnegie Hall (New York, N.Y.).

    Subject(s)

    • Auditoriums -- New York (State) -- New York.
    • Music -- New York (State) -- New York.
    • Performing arts--Production and direction

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    Collection Inventory

    Series I: Signed Photographs 1919-1961   9.0 boxes

     
      Box

    Alda, Frances 1951 

    1

    Anderson, Marian 

    1

    Arrau, Claudio 1946 

    1

    Barbirolli, John 1937 

    1

    Barere, Simon 1946 

    1

    Bartlett, Ethel [and Rae Robertson] 

    1

    Barzin, Leon 

    1

    Baver, Marian 

    1

    Beckett, Weaver 

    1

    Beecham, Sir Thomas 

    1

    Bernstein, Leonard 1956 

    1

    Boerner, Charlotte 

    1

    Brailowsky, Alexander 1950 

    1

    Busch, Fritz 1942 

    1

    Chapman, Frank 

    2

    Cheatham, Kitty 1938 

    2

    Cohan, George M. 

    2

    Corigliano, John 1957 

    2

    Curry, Lt. Col. Hugh 

    2

    Damrosch, Frank 

    2

    Damrosch, Walter [with Sir John Barbirolli & Robert Simon, Jr.] 

    2

    Damrosch, Walter 1930 

    2

    Easton, Florence 1937 

    2

    Ellington, Duke 

    2

    Elman, Mischa 1942 

    2

    Enesco, Georges 1938 

    2

    Farrar, Geraldine 1932 

    3

    Firkusny, Rudolf 1940 

    3

    Flagstad, Kirsten 

    3

    Gabrilowitsch, Ossip 1931 

    3

    Ganz, Rudolph 1939 

    3

    Gelb, Fred 1939 

    3

    Gershwin, George 1935 

    3

    Gieseking, Walter 

    3

    Goldman, Edwin Franko 

    3

    Goodman, Dody 

    3

    Grainger, Percy 1937 

    3

    Greenfield, Alfred 1951 

    3

    Hadley, Henry 1931 

    4

    Hayes, Roland 1930 

    4

    Heifetz, Jascha 1930 

    4

    Hendl, Walter 1947 

    4

    Hendl, Walter 1948 

    4

    Hess, Myra 

    4

    Hofmann, Josef 1940 

    4

    Holmes, Burton 1933 

    4

    Horowitz, Vladimir 1947 

    4

    Huberman, Bronislaw 1942 

    4

    Hurst, Fannie 

    4

    Janssen, Werner 

    4

    Jaroff, Serge 1940 

    4

    Jepson, Helen 

    4

    Jeritza, Maria 1937 

    4

    Jones, Allan 

    4

    Key, Pierre van Rensselaer 

    5

    Kleiber, Erich 1930 

    5

    Klemperer, Otto 1942 

    5

    Koussevitzky, Serge 

    5

    Koven, Reginald de 1919 

    5

    Kreisler, Fritz 1931 

    5

    Kullmer, Ann 1948 

    5

    Lange, Hans 

    5

    Laurence, Robert 

    5

    Lawrence, Marjorie 1940 

    5

    Leginska, Ethel 1942 

    5

    Lehmann, Lotte 1936 

    5

    Levant, Oscar 

    5

    Levine, Mark 

    5

    Levitzki, Mischa 1930 

    5

    Liebling, Leonard 1931 

    5

    List, Eugene 1942 

    5

    MacDonald, Jeanette 

    6

    MacMillan, Ernest 1954 

    6

    Magnes, Frances 1947 

    6

    Mahler, Gustav [signed by Alma Mahler] 1961 

    6

    Maria-Theresa 1930 

    6

    Marini, Nino 1936 

    6

    McCormack, John 1932 

    6

    Meltzer, John Henry 1928 

    6

    Mengelberg, Willem 1928 

    6

    Menuhin, Yehudi 1931 

    6

    Merriman, Nan 

    6

    Milstein, Nathan 1949 

    6

    Mitropoulos, Dimitri [with King Paul & Queen Frederica of Greece] 

    6

    Mitropoulos, Dimitri 1941 

    6

    Molinari, Bernardino 

    6

    Oistrach, David 1956 

    7

    Ormandy, Eugene 1936 

    7

    Peerce, Jan 

    7

    Pons, Lily 

    7

    Ponselle, Rosa 1936 

    7

    Rabin, Michael 1936 

    7

    Rachmaninoff, Sergei 1931 

    7

    Raphael, Edward 1937 

    7

    Reiner, Fritz 1942 

    7

    Richardson, Alexander 

    7

    Rodzinski, Artur 1941 

    7

    Rous, Marion 1953 

    7

    Rubinstein, Arthur 1941 

    7

    Schrade, Robert 1954 

    8

    Shaw, Robert 

    8

    Shawn, Ted 1950 

    8

    Sokoloff, Nikolai 1930 

    8

    Soule, Thayer 1954 

    8

    Spalding, Arthur 1937 

    8

    Stock, Frederick 1940 

    8

    Stoessel, Albert 

    8

    Stokowski, Leopold 

    8

    Stransky, Josef 1931 

    8

    Stravinsky, Igor 1940 

    8

    Swarthout, Gladys 

    8

    Szeryng, Henryk 1961 

    8

    Taubman, Howard H. 

    9

    Tibbett, Lawrence 

    9

    Toscanini, Arturo 1941 

    9

    Totten, John [with Artur Rubinstein] 

    9

    Totten, John 

    9

    Totten, John [signed to wife, Hazel] 1956 

    9

    Totten, John [Alfred Eisenstadt photo for Life magazine of Totten removing photos from Carnegie Hall] 1960 

    9

    Totten, John [NY Herald Tribune photo of Totten removing photos from Carnegie Hall] 1960 

    9

    Traubel, Helen 1942 

    9

    U.S. Army Band 

    9

    Van Praag, Maurice 

    9

    Van Praag, Maurice 1932 

    9

    Voitchenko, Sasha 

    9

    Wallenstein, Alfred 

    9

    Wallenstein, Alfred 1938 

    9

    Walter, Bruno 1932 

    9

    Whiteman, Paul 

    9

    Yon, Pietro 1936 

    9

    Iturbi, Jose 1952 

    9

    Zirato, Bruno 1936 

    9

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    Series II: Administrative Records 1943-1967   1.0 Box

     

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    Series III: Autograph Book circa 1930-1950   1.0 Volumes Autograph book measuring 4" x 5" containing approximately 100 signatures (8 unidentified).

     
      Page

    Astruc, Rose 

    81

    Barbirolli, John 

    1

    Barzin, Leon 

    15

    Bay, Emanuel 

    125

    Berlin, Irving 

    92

    Brico, Antonia 

    49

    Burnside, R.H. 

    97

    Bustabo, Giulia 

    10

    Calimahos, Lambros 

    67

    Cantor, Eddie 

    112

    Casals, Pablo 

    70

    Casadesus, Robert 

    118

    Cheatham, Kitty 

    71

    Clayburgh, Alma 

    22

    Cohan, George M. 

    83

    Copeland, George 

    63

    Copley, Dick 

    14

    Damrosch, Walter 

    50

    Draper, Paul 

    72

    Elman, Mischa 

    3

    Elman, Mischa 

    69

    Enesco, Georges 

    9

    Feuermann, Emanuel 

    68

    Fischer, Leo 

    40

    Flagstad, Kirsten 

    36

    Friedberg, Annie 

    43

    Ganz, Rudolph 

    35

    Gibson, Alexander 

    37

    Godowsky, Leopold 

    17

    Gold, Walter 

    124

    Goldberg, Simon 

    57

    Goodman, Benny 

    11

    Gorodnitzki, Sascha 

    73

    Guerney, John 

    47

    Heifetz, Jascha 

    91

    Hofmann, Josef 

    120

    Hurok, Sol 

    18

    Iturbi, Amparo 

    22

    Iturbi, Jose 

    8

    Jepson, Helen 

    126

    Johnson, Osa 

    93

    Koussevitzky, Serge 

    13

    Lange, Hans 

    59

    La Forge, Frank 

    34

    Lawrence, Marjorie 

    74

    Lehmann, Lotte 

    28

    Levine, Marks 

    27

    Levitzki, Mischa 

    66

    Levitzki, Mischa 

    79

    Lhevinne, Josef 

    21

    Lhevinne, Rosina 

    20

    List, Emanuel 

    30

    Martinelli, Giovanni 

    5

    Martinelli, Giovanni 

    88

    Matzenauer, Margaret 

    54

    Melchior, Lauritz 

    29

    Menuhin, Yehudi 

    74

    Moscona, Nicola 

    122

    Ormandy, Eugene 

    46

    Pauly, Rose 

    81

    Peters, Julia 

    33

    Piastro, Mishel 

    6

    Piatigorsky, Gregor 

    56

    Pitzinger, Gertrude 

    16

    Rachmaninoff, Sergei 

    22

    Reiner, Fritz 

    119

    Rosen, Max 

    42

    Rosenthal, Moritz 

    44

    Ross, Hugh 

    24

    Rubinstein, Arthur 

    19

    Salmond, Felix 

    37

    Sarnoff, David 

    52

    Schipa, Tito 

    61

    Schnabel, Arthur 

    1

    Serkin, Rudolph 

    64

    Shankar, Uday 

    41

    Spaeth, Sigmund 

    82

    Stoessel, Albert 

    123

    Szigeti, Joseph 

    12

    Taylor, Deems 

    25

    Taubman, Howard 

    26

    Thomas, John Charles 

    2

    Tibbett, Lawrence 

    75

    Toscanini, Arturo 

    53

    Seidel, Toscha 

    65

    Van Praag, Willem 

    5

    Vronsky, Vitya 

    32

    Winchell, Walter 

    60

    Wise, Stephen 

    39

    Wolf, Ernest Victor 

    39

    Zimbalist, Efrem 

    109

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