Martha Lipton Papers

I have no musical talent beyond pushing the buttons on my MP3 player but I love music and I am a big fan of both opera and classical music.  Recently, I had the pleasure of working with a collection of papers from Martha Lipton, a famous mezzo-soprano who was later a Professor of Voice at the Jacobs School of Music.

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Born in New York City on April 6, 1913, Lipton won a scholarship to the Julliard School where she received her formal training. Graduating in 1942, she was invited to join the worldwide music fraternity Delta Omicron as an honorary member and made her debut with the New Opera Company in Manhattan playing Pauline in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades. In 1944 she began a prolific career with the Metropolitan Opera which continued until 1961 and included over 400 performances. Under the direction of famous conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, and Bruno Walter, she sang with both the New York and Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestras.  Her most popular recording was Handel’s Messiah with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir –  and while this recording I’m sure is wonderful, I’m sure that it had to be something entirely different live.  I have had the opportunity to hear the Tabernacle Choir perform in Salt Lake City and was awestruck!  Another notable role in her career was Augusta in the American opera Ballad of Baby Doe by Douglas Moore at the Central City Opera House in Colorado.  The opera became so popular that it was later performed at the Met.  In total, Lipton performed three dozen roles in four languages.

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In 1960, Lipton accepted a position on the teaching faculty of the Indiana University School of Music. Additionally during her tenure she graced the university campus with numerous performances, most notable being Puccini’s Aida in which she played the role of Amneris in July and August of 1963.  With a cast of over 600 including a full orchestra, the production was so large that the stage was built in the old Memorial Stadium! The photographs shown here give a sense of just how large the production actually was!

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The Martha Lipton papers include many wonderful promotional photographs which document the beautifully detailed costumes she wore in her performances as well as a hand fan that she used in Rigoletto.  That was a fun discovery!

Lipton was a gifted teacher who was much loved by her students.  While she officially retired from teaching in 1983 with the rank of professor emeritus, she continued to teach part-time until her death on November 28, 2006.

 

New Finding Aid: Newell and Eleanor Long Show files, 1939-1982

The finding aid for the Newell and Eleanor Long Show files is now available!  Newell Long was a music professor at Indiana University from 1935 to 1975 and his wife Eleanor taught English at IU from 1939 to 1962.  Together the couple wrote a number of musical pageants, plays, and skits for university and local events.  Newell Long would write the musical scores and Eleanor Long composed the scripts.  The collection includes general information on the shows, music, programs, and scripts.

Many of these shows were either Indiana or IU themed, including “All’s Wells That Ends Well,” a musical tribute to Herman B Wells upon his retirement as IU President in 1962.  The musical revue was performed by faculty and their spouses and included songs such as “The Might of the Humble B,” “Wells’ Belles,”  and “Be Yourself.” Other items you will find in the collection about “All’s Wells that Ends Wells” includes notes, musical scores, lyrics, scripts, and a newspaper article.

“Gloriana, Indiana,” a musical history of IU, was written by the Longs and presented to the University Club for the 150th anniversary of Indiana University.  Original songs include “Tomorrow is Foundation Day” and “Equality for Women.”  The show files also contain music for “Hymn to Indiana” and “Hail to Old IU.”

Among other shows featured in the collection are “The Cradle of the Commonwealth,” for the Corydon Sesquicentennial, “The Tale of the Lonesome Tulip Tree,” for the Tulip Trace Council of Girl Scouts, and “Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman,” for the University Club.