Scope and Contents
Title: Olivia Mattis Collection
Collection number: ARS.0107
: 17 10.5" open reel tapes
Archive of Recorded Sound
Interviews with avant-garde composers by musicologist Olivia Mattis.
Language of Material: Multiple languages
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.
Olivia Mattis Collection, ARS-0107. Courtesy of the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford,
This finding aid was produced with generous financial support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Scope and Contents
Interviews with avant-garde composers by musicologist Olivia Mattis, conducted while Mattis was a doctoral student at Stanford
University studying Edgard Varèse. Thus, many of the subjects are family and associates of Varèse (many of whom are from
the art world rather than music), and his name tends to come up in many of the interviews. Mattis was also the first person
to interview Léon Thérémin after he emerged from over fifty years of Soviet seclusion in 1989. While the transcript for
this interview has been published, less commonly found is the recording from the same tape of a theremin demonstration played
by his daughter Natalia. The number of notable composers represented in the collection is impressive: Cage, Xenakis, Babbitt,
Leuning, Schaeffer, Ussachevsky… Captured at the twilight of the twentieth century, there would be few further opportunities
to hear the recollections of these brilliant creators. The collection also contains a rare interview with rock musician Frank
Zappa, a known Varèse acolyte. Musicians, conductors, and artists are also among the interviewed. Sessions were in English
and other languages (French, Russian) with an interpreter, and took place for the most part in Paris and New York City. These
first generation copies (most of which have never been played) were dubbed from her original audiocassettes between 1989 and
1990, while Mattis was briefly employed at the Archive of Recorded Sound. Copies also appear to have been deposited at Yale
The Olivia Mattis Collection was donated to the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound by Olivia Mattis in 1990.
Reels have been numbered 1-17. Many interviews are contained on more than one reel. Approximate duration has been noted when
Subjects and Indexing Terms