Scope and Contents
Title: James Schwabacher Collection
Collection number: ARS.0024
Archive of Recorded Sound
The James Schwabacher Collection consists of sound recordings, correspondence, scores, scrapbooks, clippings, programs, teaching
material and other papers from San Francisco philanthropist and lyric tenor James Schwabacher.
Language of Material: English
Open for research; material must be requested at least two business days in advance of intended use. Contact the Archive for
Property rights reside with repository. Publication and reproduction rights reside with the creators or their heirs. To obtain
permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Head Librarian of the Archive of Recorded Sound.
James Schwabacher Collection, ARS-0024. Courtesy of the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries,
The James Schwabacher Collection was donated to the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound by James Schwabacher in 2006.
This finding aid was produced with generous financial support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Scope and Contents
The James Schwabacher Collection consists of sound recordings, correspondence, scores, scrapbooks, photographs, programs,
teaching material and other papers from philanthropist and lyric tenor James Schwabacher (1920-2006). A tireless champion
of vocal music, Schwabacher was extremely active in the San Francisco Bay area, not only as a performer, but as a teacher,
vocal coach, and radio and television host. Perhaps most significantly, Schwabacher founded the Merola Opera Program, an annual
workshop for aspiring singers, in 1957, San Francisco Performances in 1980, and the Schwabacher Debut Recital Series in 1983.
The Schwabacher name belongs to one of San Francisco's more prestigious families: Schwabacher-Frey was a major West Coast
printer and stationer, and Schwabacher and Company was a successful investment banking firm. His grandmother Carrie, who was
a Fleishhacker before marriage, was a composer and pianist, and James grew up surrounded by music. Scrapbooks reveal regular
attendance at San Francisco Opera performances, long before he made it to the SF Opera stage himself.
After graduating from Cal in 1941, Schwabacher taught briefly at Stanford, where he conducted the Glee Club and sang in the
West Coast premiere of Britten's Peter Grimes and alongside Dorothy Warenskjold in her debut in Der Freischütz. In 1948 Schwabacher
joined the San Francisco Opera, playing fourteen roles over four seasons. Schwabacher would soon move away from opera, however,
and the majority of his years performing were in recitals and oratorios. His singing career is most notable for a twenty-five
year run as the Evangelist in The Passions of St. John and Matthew in the Carmel Bach Festival. The collection contains many
recordings from these performances, but it also covers the period where Schwabacher was teaching, mentoring and administrating
(he was president of the San Francisco Symphony Foundation and a member of their Board of Governors since 1959, and he was
also on the board of the San Francisco Opera Foundation). For more biographical information, consult the oral history by Caroline
C. Crawford titled "Renaissance Man of Bay Area Music: Tenor, Teacher, Administrator, Impresario: James H. Schwabacher, Jr."
(available at http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/kt987006sc).
The collection has been arranged into fifteen series: 1. Awards and honors ; 2. Clippings ; 3. Correspondence ; 4. Media ;
5. Merola Opera Program ; 6. Misc. papers ; 7. Notes and notebooks ; 8. Photographs ; 9. Posters ; 10. Programs ; 11. Publicity
and biographies ; 12. S.F. Symphony and Opera business ; 13. Scores ; 14. Scrapbooks and binders ; 15. Teaching materials.
San Francisco Opera.
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.