An Inventory of the Herbert Fromm Collection

Music Archives

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cataloged and annotated by ELIOTT KAHN, D.M.A.
with introductory remarks by SAMUEL ADLER
The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary
New York, 1995

This publication was made possible through the generosity of the Arthur Rubloff Residuary Trust.

Table of Contents

SERIES LIST (Search JTS Library catalog for bibliographic records:

Portrait of Fromm

This Inventory documents the life and work of a truly extraordinary human being. Herbert Fromm was to me a teacher, mentor and friend and after my own father passed away he became my surrogate father. This very close relationship afforded many opportunities for long dialogues on a great variety of subjects and I feel blessed that he spent so very much time with me, especially during my student years in Boston. During our often lengthy sessions he frequently voiced his hopes and aspirations and also revealed to me some of his most intimate thoughts.

Besides being a composer, Fromm was also a writer and valued literature almost as much as music. In both fields he upheld the highest standard and left an enviable legacy for all future generations.

Herbert Fromm’s striving for excellence stemmed from the fact that he challenged himself and his work with the Hebrew phrase “DA MI LIFNEY ATTA OMEYD” (Know before Whom you stand.) This admonition governed his musical and literary output as well as his entire life. In his critique of sacred and secular music he always held up this challenge. He harshly criticized American Synagogue music of the past two decades, not so much because he decried the growing influence of popular and unrefined ethnic music per se, but because he believed this music hindered the worshipper from being able to face the highest in life.

Taken as an entirety, his life’s output is the work of an extremely erudite individual who wrote and refined each creation until it met his strictest criterion. Because of his love and devotion to the written word a great deal of the compositions are vocal or choral music. Many of his abstract instrumental works are based on “unsung” texts and often include melodies or musical quotations from ancient Jewish traditions, which were the love of his life and which he studied assidiously.

Herbert Fromm was the last survivor of a very influential group of Jewish composers who emigrated from Central Europe during the Nazi period. With such men as Heinrich Schalit, Julius Chajes and Hugo Adler — all of whom were his close friends — Herbert endeavored to add a new dimension to the music of the American Synagogue.

Of all the many contributors to the renaissance of Synagogue music in this century, Herbert Fromm brought the most individualistic and original voice. His touch is evident in the large as well as the small works and his committment to the highest musical and literary standards is present in every measure. Here was a man who devoted so much energy and genius to infuse the American Synagogue with a fresh sound that reflected the language of this century. May his memory be a blessing as his work is an enriching experience for all of us.

Samuel Adler

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The Herbert Fromm Collection consists of the published music and music literature holdings of The Jewish Theological Seminary’s Music Library combined with the largely archival material of The Herbert Fromm Papers. The Papers are mostly mastersheets, blueprints, and several holographs of Fromm’s musical compositions, 1925-1990. Also included are audio tapes of performances of his music, 1951-1970; Fromm’s correspondence with composers, performers, music publishers, rabbis and cantors, Jewish music organizations, friends and family members; publishers contracts; synagogue bulletins; concert programs; newspaper clippings; photographs; and some personal memorabilia, ca.1925-1974.

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See Caption Below

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In Ewigkeit (In Eternity).
Herbert Fromm. Bingen, Germany, 1935.
Holograph score of cantata premiered by the Jüdischer Kulturbund (Jewish Culture League) of Frankfurt, November 11, 1935.


Herbert Fromm was born in Kitzingen, Bavaria on February 23, 1905. From 1925-29 he studied at the State Academy of Music at Munich, graduating with honors. He served as assistant conductor at two state opera theaters, first Bielefeld (1930-31) then Wuerzberg (1931-33). Along with other Jewish artists, after 1933 Fromm was prohibited by the Nazi government from taking part in Germany’s cultural life. He then became an active member of the Juedischer Kulturbund at Frankfurt, accompanying, conducting and composing music for that organization until 1936. It was during this period that he first began employing Jewish melodies and texts in his musical compositions as well as playing organ in Frankfurt’s WestEnd Synagogue.

Herbert Fromm emigrated to the United States in 1937 and until 1941 was organist and choir director at Temple Beth Zion, Buffalo, NY, and the First Presbyterian Church in Aurora, NY. Between 1940 and 1941 he was a pupil of German emigre composer Paul Hindemith. Hindemith’s theories on music made a profound impact on Fromm and--along with traditional Jewish music and texts--they are one of the central influences on his musical style.

Herbert Fromm married actress Leni Steinberg in 1941. They had met in Frankfurt while working together for the Kulturbund. In 1941 Fromm became organist and choir director at Temple Israel in Boston, Massachusetts, a position he would retire from in 1972. He won the Ernest Bloch Award in 1945 for his Song of Miriam, published a year later by Carl Fischer, NY. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Lesley College in 1966.

Herbert Fromm authored three books: The Key of See (1967), Seven Pockets (1977) and On Jewish Music (1978). The majority of his published musical compositions were for the Jewish liturgy and are published by Transcontinental Music Publications, NY. These include three complete services, numerous prayers and anthems for solo voice and/or chorus, and solo organ music. Some of his secular works were published by Carl Fischer, NY (The Crimson Sap, 1956), E.C. Schirmer, Boston (Six Shakespeare Songs, 1965) and Boosey & Hawkes, NY (Sonata for Violin and Piano, 1954); String Quartet, 1961). He also composed approximately eighteen cantatas, most musical settings of sacred Jewish texts.

Herbert Fromm’s last musical composition, Psalm 27, was written in 1990. He died on March 10, 1995, while this book was in its final stages of preparation. He is survived by his widow Leni, who continues to make her home in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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The Jewish Theological Seminary Music Library initially held about fifty published music and music literature items credited to Herbert Fromm’s authorship. This all changed in Autumn, 1993 when the Library received The Herbert Fromm Papers, approximately thirteen boxes of archival material from Herbert Fromm’s music office in Temple Israel, Boston, Mass. The Fromms were both ill at the time they had learned the office had to be vacated; strangers had to be sent to pack up and ship the office’s contents to the Library.

Although most of the correspondence and programs were found in disarray, it quickly became apparent that several file folders had already been organized by Herbert Fromm. The integrity of these has been maintained (and listed with an *asterisk). In other instances new subject files had to be created to provide cohesiveness and easier access to the records.

Most of the musical scores and parts are in the mastersheet/blueprint format. Briefly, this is a photographic printing process where the composer inks his finished score onto tissue-like papers that generate positive blueprint facsimilies when exposed to light.

The twenty nine audio tapes are all 7.5 ips, 1/4 inch reel to reel.

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I. Correspondence, programs, bulletins, newsletters, clippings, photos, writings, memorabilia, 1925-1974

A. Correspondence, programs, etc., Re: premieres, commissions, concerts, recordings, 1951-1970
B. Correspondence with music publishers and music organizations, ca.1954-1970
C. Correspondence with musicians, ca.1925-1973
D. Correspondence in German, ca.1945-1974
E. Correspondence in English, ca.1940-1970
F. Writings by Herbert Fromm, 1928-1970; n.d.
G. Subject files, 1943-1967; n.d.
H. Programs, bulletins, newsletters, newspaper clippings, ca.1927-1974

File folders are arranged in alphabetical order.
Files in original order are prefixed by an *asterisk.

II. Audio tapes, 1951-1970

Note: All the items in Series II-III may be accessed through the JTS Library Catalog at:
(Search under "Fromm, Herbert" or title or other author)

Tapes are cataloged as sound recordings and utilize special call numbers: TAPE 501 through TAPE 525.

III. Music and Music Literature, 1925-1990

Note: All the items in Series II-III may be accessed through the JTS Library Catalog at:
(Search under "Fromm, Herbert" or title or other author)

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Box 1 thru Box 3, folder 4

All the activities documented in this sub-series were important enough for Fromm to create separate files for each one. Notable among them are a commission from The Temple, Cleveland, Ohio, David Gooding, Director of Music, for a Sabbath morning service (*Chemdat Yamim, 1964); a concert of Fromm’s music at *Jordan Hall in Boston (1951); and the premiere of his orchestral cantata *The Stranger by the Schola Cantorum in NYC (1957). Extensive correspondence with his brother Norman Fromm, a founder of the *Paul Masson presents “Music at the Vineyards” concert series, is also included (1947-71).

Box 3, folder 5 thru Box 5, folder 8

Correspondence with *E.C. Schirmer (1960-70), *Carl Fisher (1945-60s), *Boosey & Hawkes (1954-70) and *Israeli Music (1960-73) regarding published secular compositions. Also noteworthy is correspondence with Cantor David Putterman, Re: *Park Avenue Synagogue’s (New York, NY) Sabbath Eve Service (1946); a transcript from the *Metropolitan Synagogue’s (New York, NY) 1965 Jewish composers forum; and correspondence with the *Central Conference of American Rabbis (1965-70) regarding an abortive attempt to revise the Union Hymnal. Extensive correspondence with founder of Transcontinental Music, Dr. Joseph Freudenthal, and his widow Mari Freudenthal, includes publisher’s contracts. The folder on Fromm’s *Adath Israel service (1943; Box 5) contains a holograph essay, “On Recent Liturgic Temple Music and Herbert Fromm’s New Friday Evening Service,” by Dr. Hugo Leichtentritt, Professor Emeritus of Music, Harvard Univ.

Boxes 6 thru 9

Fromm was respected in several musical fields and his correspondence reflects this. There are clippings, photos and many letters from American composer *Samuel Adler and his family (1951-68; Boxes 6, 7). The Fromms were like second parents to Adler, whose deceased father, composer and cantor Hugo Chayim Adler, was a personal friend.

Of central importance is correspondence with other American Jewish composers, especially Heinrich Schalit, *Isadore Freed and *Herman Berlinski. Fromm and Schalit were personal friends and both honestly evaluated each other’s music over the course of thirty years.

There is correspondence with internationally known composers Paul Ben-Haim and Alan Hovhaness; several early photos, programs, clippings and letters from German composer *Dr. Armin Knab and his widow, Yvonne Knab (ca.1925-64; Box 9). There are also letters from American organist Robert Noehren and conductor William Steinberg, whom Fromm had worked with at the Juedischer Kulturbund in Frankfurt.

Box 10

Includes correspondence concerning the *Family wine business (1945-46). Amongst the many personal letters, of special importance is the 1947 one from a Mr. Braun, a musician and former German soldier, who gives a first-hand description of the destruction of Lemberg’s (Lw’ow, Poland) Jewish community (Box 10, folder 1).

Boxes 11, 12

Correspondence with family, friends, congregants, rabbis, etc. Unsorted at this time.

F. WRITINGS BY HERBERT FROMM, 1928 - 1970; n.d.
Boxes 13, 14

Includes correspondence and photos from Fromm’s 1962 trip to Germany, later incorporated into his book *The Key of See (1967); also the typescript of his book *Seven Pockets [1977] The *Resumes and personal bios (1928-36; 1938-60) provide biographical data along with lists and dates of early compositions. Fromm’s Writings on music (1939-70, *n.d.) include papers and programs he had given on various musical topics as well as several journal and magazine articles. Many of these were collected and published together in his book On Jewish Music (1978).

G. SUBJECT FILES, 1943 - 1967; n.d.
Boxes 15 thru 18

Includes some of the *Literary texts set to music by Fromm (Box 15, folder 3) and others that he was perhaps considering setting (Box 15, folder 4); Photos with European friends and accompanying correspondence (n.d.); brochures and correspondence from Park Sanitorium, Meersburg, where Fromm went in 1967 to treat his insomnia; and Fromm’s passport holder from Nazi Germany (Box 17, folder 1).

Boxes 19 thru 28

Includes clippings, programs and music reviews from *Pre-war Germany and post-war America (1927-48) important enough to be isolated by the Fromms into a small box (Box 19). Especially valuable are the programs from the Juedischer Kulturbund at Frankfurt (1934-36). Also noteworthy are early programs from the National Jewish Music Council/ Jewish Music Forum (1938-71; Box 20, folder 4); Fromm’s own weekly lists from *Temple Israel, Boston (1965-73); and programs from Temple Israel, Boston’s annual music service (1950-74; Box 22, folder 1), where Fromm premiered several of his cantatas. The selected bulletins from Temple Israel, Lawrence, NY (1951-60; Box 22, folder 3) contain music director Isadore Freed’s 1954 series, “Historical Sketches on American Jewish Music,” valuable biographical data on several twentieth-century American synagogue composers. Boxes 23 thru 27 contain miscellaneous programs and bulletins (ca.1939-72) that are not sorted at this time. Box 28 contains miscellaneous newspaper clippings that are also not sorted at this time.

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"Mein Weg zur jüdischen Musik" (My Path to Jewish Music). Herbert Fromm. s.l., ca.1938.
Letter "for Palestine," probably the World Centre for Jewish Music.

For Palestine... [probably the World Centre for Jewish Music, ca.1937-1938]
My path to Jewish music led me from general studies of the folk music of all lands to always more specialized studies of Jewish folk music. Taking Palestinian, Yiddish, and Chassidic melodies, I created accompaniments, put them together into song cycles, or used them as a basis for freer instrumental works. In addition to that I created a series of free compositions on old and new Jewish texts. In the past year [1937] through practical activity as a synagogue music director, the study of liturgical music has come to the fore. I perceive my next and most urgent task to be the creation of new liturgical music. The religous power and poetic beauty of the prayers open an unrivalled field of expression for Jewish musicians. Much of what was created in the past and is yet regarded today as “classic” synagogue music must be thrown overboard. We must return again to the source and seek to find a characteristic Jewish melos from the spirit of the Hebrew language. The old cantillations point the way, however, creative fantasy will disclose yet untread paths. We have the right of the living to express what we read from the ancient holy texts. The old recitatives — which I admit urgently require canonizing — today have still not lost their validity. As in the Catholic Church, where an independent musical culture developed alongside Gregorian chant that led to the colossal structures of Bruckner-like masses, so could we also find the way to an artistic, complex Jewish liturgical music in which the spirit of Judaism reflects itself magnificently transfigured.

Herbert Fromm

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     (all *original order)
1 1 *Avodat Shabbat premiere, Congregation Emanu-El, NYC, 1960
  2 *Brandeis University concert, Waltham, Mass., 1964
  3 *Chemdat Yamim commission, The Temple, Cleveland, Ohio / David Gooding, music director, 1964
  4 *Chemdat Yamim with orchestra, Temple Ohabei Shalom, Brookline, Mass., 1963
  5 *Fine Arts Quartet, correspondence, Re: Recording, 1965-67
  6 *Jordan Hall concert, Boston, Mass., 1951
  7 *Lyrichord recordings, 1968-74
  8 *Ma Tovu commission, Temple Rodef Shalom, Pittsburgh, Pa., 1970
  9 *Music service, 1963 (Memorial Cantata, Psalm Cantata)
2   *Paul Masson presents “Music at the Vineyards” concert series / Norman Fromm, 1947-71
3 1 *Shakespeare Songs premiere, San Francisco State College, 1961
  2 *The Stranger premiere, Hugh Ross, Schola Cantorum, NYC, 1957
  3 *The Stranger concert, Sam Adler, Dallas Symphony members, 1959
  4 *Transience premiere/ Doctor of Humane Letters, Lesley College,1966
     AND MUSIC ORGANIZATIONS, ca.1954 – 1970
  5 *Boosey & Hawkes crrspndnce, Re: Sonata for vln. & piano,1954
  6 Boosey & Hawkes crrspndnce, misc., 1959-70; Re: String Quartet, 1961
  7 *Cantor’s Assembly correspondence, 1964-71
  8 *Carl Fischer correspondence, Re: Song of Miriam, 1945
  9 *Carl Fischer correspondence, Re: The Crimson Sap, 1955-57
  10 *Carl Fischer correspondence, misc., ca.1960s
4 1 *Central Conference of American Rabbis/ Rabbi Malcolm Stern, 1953-70 [bulk 1965-70]
  2 *Davidson, Cantor Charles, 1961-69
  3 Fromm Music Foundation/ Paul Fromm, 1953-73
  4 *Israeli Music Publications, Re: Yemenite Cycle, 1960-73
  5 *Metropolitan Synagogue (New York, N.Y.) Composers Forum / Rabbi Judah Cahn, 1965
  6 Musical Quarterly/ Nathan Broder, ed./ Yehudi Wyner, 1966-67
  7 *National Jewish Music Council/ A.W. Binder, 1952-73
  8 *Park Avenue Synagogue (New York, N.Y.), Sabbath Eve Service / Cantor David Putterman, 1946
  9 *E.C. Schirmer, Boston, Mass., correspondence, 1960-70
5   Transcontinental Music Publications/ Dr. Joseph and Mari Freudenthal, 1943-1972 (chronological order)
  1 *Adath Israel service, 1943 (Leichtentritt essay, reviews)
  2 *Short liturgical works, 1946
  3 *Atonement Music, 1948
  4 *Six Madrigals, 1951
  5 *Liturgical works, assorted, 1953
  6 *Two Festival Songs, 1954
  7 Miscellaneous correspondence, ca.1950’s-1960’s
  8 Miscellaneous correspondence, ca.1963-72
6   *Adler, Samuel, correspondence, clippings, photos
  1 ca.1951-65
  2 ca.1961-62
7   ca.1958-68
8 1 Adler, Hugo Chayim
  2 Altman, Ludwig
  3 Ben-Haim, Paul
  4 Berger, Jean
  5 Berlinski, Dr. Herman
    *Binder, Abraham W.(see *National Jewish Music Council, Box 4-7)
  6 Boykan, Martin
  7 Chajes, Julius
  8 Ehrenreich, Dr. Nathan
  9 Ephros, Gershon
  10 Foss, Lukas
  11 *Freed, Dr. Isadore
  12 Hovhaness, Alan
    *Knab, Dr. Armin/ Yvonne Knab, widow (see Box 9)
  13 Knettel, Josef
  14 Lamb, Dr. Carl (Art historian)
  15 Levy, Dr. Ernst
  16 Miscellaneous musicians
  17 Noehren, Robert
  18 *Roy, Klaus George
  19 Saminsky, Lazare
  20 Schalit, Heinrich
  21 Schalit, Heinrich (H. Fromm responses, addenda from M. Schalit)
  22 *Schuller, Gunther
  23 Steinberg, William
  24 *Zipp, Friedrich
9   *Knab, Dr. Armin/ Yvonne Knab, widow; correspondence, programs, clippings, photos, ca.1925-64
    D. CORRESPONDENCE IN GERMAN, ca.1945 – 1974
10 1 Braun family correspondence, ca.1945-47 (includes first-hand documentation of the destruction of Lemberg’s (Lvov’s) Jews
  2 *Family wine business, ca.1945-46
  3 *Personal correspondence, ca.1960’s
  4 Personal correspondence, ca.1960’s-70’s
  5 *Planned Jewish music lecture in Germany, 1967-68
  6 Postwar correspondence, ca.1945-50
    E. CORRESPONDENCE IN ENGLISH, ca.1940 – 1970
11   Unsorted at this time
12   Unsorted at this time
    F. WRITINGS BY HERBERT FROMM, 1928 - 1970; n.d.
13 1 *The Key of See/ Church musician’s trip to Germany, 1962-68
  2 Literary texts written by Herbert Fromm, n.d.
  3 *Resumes and personal bios in German, 1928-36
  4 *Resumes and personal bios in English, 1928-36
  5 Resumes and personal bios, 1938-60
  6 *Seven Pockets typescript [1977]
  7 Writings on music, assorted, 1939-70
14 1 - 4 *Writings on music, n.d.
    G. SUBJECT FILES, 1943 - 1967; n.d.
15 1 *ASCAP certificates, 1954; 1961
  2 European postcards and programs, ca.1960s
  3 *Literary texts set to music by Fromm, n.d.
  4 Literary texts written by others
  5 Miscellaneous bills and receipts
16 1 Park Sanitarium, Meersburg, ca.1967
  2 Photos with European friends & accompanying correspondence, n.d.
  3 *Selective service papers, 1943
17 1 *Quills, pens, Nazi Germany passport holder
  2 Manuscript music covers and indices from scores
18   Miscellaneous newspapers and magazines
     NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS, ca.1927 – 1976
19 (half-size) *Pre-War Germany and post-War America, programs, clippings, 1927-48 (includes Kulturbund programs)
20 1 Congregation Emanu-El (New York, N.Y.) selected weekly bulletins, 1953-67
  2 Congregation Emanu-El (New York, N.Y.) selected weekly bulletins, 1967-76
  3 National Jewish Music Council/ Jewish Music Forum newsletters, 1956-71
  4 National Jewish Music Council/ Jewish Music Forum programs, 1938-71
  5 New Engand Jewish Music Forum programs, 1960-75
  6 Park Avenue Synagogue (New York, N.Y.) Sabbath Eve Service programs, 1946
  7-9 *Temple Israel (Boston, Mass.) weekly music lists, 1965-68
21 1-4 *Temple Israel (Boston, Mass.) weekly music lists, 1969-73
22 1 Temple Israel (Boston, Mass.) annual music programs, 1950-74
  2 Temple Israel (Boston, Mass.) selected weekly bulletins, 1942-73
  3 Temple Israel (Lawrence, N.Y.) selected weekly bulletins, 1951-60 (contains Isadore Freed’s 1954 series “Historical Sketches on Jewish Music”)
  4 Temple Israel (Lawrence, N.Y.) annual music programs, 1953-70
23 - 27   Miscellaneous programs and bulletins, ca.1939 - 1972. Unsorted at this time
28   Miscellenaeous newspaper clippings. (Unsorted at this time) [from Folder 3-5]

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