Catalogued, arranged, and described by ELIOTT KAHN, DMA, April 2006


The Aron Marko Rothmüller Music Collection is composed of the published and unpublished music scores of composer Aron Marko Rothmüller, 1931–1980; two folders of archival material containing information on Rothmüller and his Jewish cultural organization, Omanut, 1941–2002; and two commercial recordings of Rothmüller singing opera and art songs, 1991; 2002. The scores were published by Jibneh Verlag, 1931–1938 and Edition Omanut, 1933–1936. There are also several unpublished scores composed for Rothmüller's Omanut cultural organization after its relocation to Zurich, Switzerland, 1940–1947, and during Rothmüller's years teaching at Indiana University, 1955–1979. The two folders of archival material include an early photo of Rothmüller, ca. 1956; the Zurich newspaper supplement, "Omanut: Blatter for judische Kunst und Literatur," 1941-1942; two programs from Omanut presentations, 1941, 1942; and an essay by Rothmüller (in English) remembering composer Alban Berg and his wife Helene, 1991.

Note: All the musical scores and published books may be accessed through The Library Catalog at:

(Search under "Rothmüller, Aron Marko" or title.)

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The Library received Aron Marko Rothmüller's papers and scores in April 2003 from his second wife, Margrit, who resides in Bloomington, Indiana. The rest of the scores, along with the recordings, were received between February and March 2006 from Margrit Rothmüller.

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Aron Marko Rothmüller was a singer, composer, musicologist, and voice teacher. He was born December 31, 1908 in Trnjani, Croatia and moved to Zagreb when he was about two years old. Rothmüller studied violin, piano, and music theory as a youth, then majored in conducting and music composition at the Zagreb Music Academy. Rothmüller went to Vienna in the autumn of 1928, where he studied musical composition with Alban Berg and, in 1929, voice with Franz Steiner. He remained with both teachers until 1932. In September 1932 he obtained a contract with the Schiller Opera in Hamburg-Altona, Germany and performed his first lead role (Rigoletto) there before his twenty-fourth birthday.

Rothmüller was born into a nonreligious Jewish family, and a career in Germany was impossible after April 1933. According to Rothmüller's first and second wives, Ela and Margrit, he had little interest in Judaism but felt a genuine passion for Jewish culture as well as a pride in Zionist causes. He had both Jewish and Slavic first names, as was the custom for Jewish boys in Yugoslavia during this time. On July 28, 1932, Rothmüller founded Omanut, Vererin zur forderung judischer Musik (Society for the Development of Jewish music) along with David Spitzer. Omanut (Hebrew for "Art") grew to embrace all the Jewish arts as well as include a music publishing wing, Edition Omanut, which published twenty-five pieces between 1933 and 1936. An earlier society for the promotion of Jewish music was founded in Vienna in 1928, and Rothmüller dedicated his song "Scha, Still" to it in 1931.

After two years at the National Opera in Zagreb, in 1935 Rothmüller received a contract with the Municipal Theatre in Zurich, Switzerland. He married Ela Reis that same year. They had two children, Ilan, in 1937, and Daniel, in 1943. Rothmüller reconstituted Omanut as a Jewish cultural organization in Zurich in 1941. He composed several chamber works for their concerts that utilized Jewish topics and musical motives. During the war years, Switzerland was a safe haven for many German-speaking Jews and Omanut's concerts were of very high quality, which attracted many assimilated Jews. As an opera singer, Rothmüller's reputation was so well established that he managed to have his mother released from an Italian detainment camp by an alleged friend in the Vatican, ca. 1943. Of the six Rothmüller children, four would emigrate to Israel. A sister who remained in Zagreb was killed, along with her husband, in the Holocaust.

Rothmüller sang the role of Truchsess at the May 28, 1938 Zurich world premiere of Paul Hindemith's opera Mathis der Maler. He left Zurich in 1948 and embarked on an international singing career that took him to the Vienna State Opera, London's Covent Garden, the Teatro Colo´n in Buenos Aires and New York's Metropolitan Opera, among others. Perhaps the highlight of his career was creating the title role in Alban Berg's Wozzek, in London in 1951, and later in Buenos Aires and New York.

Rothmüller published his comprehensive history of Jewish music, Die Musik der Juden, in 1951. The English translation, The Music of the Jews, was first published in 1953. He accepted a fulltime position teaching voice at Indiana University in 1955. He retired from Indiana in 1979 and received a Fulbright Award to head the voice department at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem from 1981 to 1982. In 1978 he published a pedagogy textbook, Pronunciation of German and German Diction. Rothmüller's last known composition dates from 1980 ("Sonata for Double Bass"), and he identified over twenty compositions as "Jewish Music" on his own list of his compositions. Rothmüller and his first wife, Ela, divorced in 1970. In 1983 he married Margrit Silberstein, whom he knew from his years in Zurich. Aron Marko Rothmüller died in Bloomington, Indiana on January 20, 1993.

Note: Biographical information comes from the Rothmüller Collection and the following sources:

Rothmüller, Ela, Telephone conversation with cataloger, 14 March 2003.

Rothmüller, Margrit, Telephone conversations with cataloger, 12 March 2003, 8 February 2006, 28 February 2006 and 27 March 2006.

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Folders 1 and 2 contain all of the archival material of The Aron Marko Rothmüller Collection. They are stored in the Rare Book Room in one flat box that also contains Rothmüller's manuscript musical scores. The location number is: SHF 710:5.

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