Scope and Content
Title: Walter Heebner papers
Identifier/Call Number: PA Mss 114
UC Santa Barbara Library, Department of Special Research Collections
Language of Material:
26.52 linear feet
(3 cartons, 1 half-size document box, 1 document box, 2 flat boxes, 2 oversize flat boxes, 282 open reel tapes)
Heebner, Walter S., 1917-2002
Date (inclusive): circa 1930s-1960s
Abstract: Papers of Walter Schussler Heebner (1917-2002), professional musician, composer, and songwriter, and executive at RCA Records
and Capitol Records.
Physical Location: Special Research Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library
The collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Research Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish
or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Research Collections. Permission for publication
is given on behalf of the Department of Special Research Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.
[Identification of Item], Walter Heebner papers, PA Mss 114. Department of Special Research Collections, UC Santa Barbara
Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Gift of Mary Heebner, 2016.
Walter Heebner was born in 1917, and began his career as a professional musician at age 13, playing saxophone several nights
a week in ballrooms. Graduating with honors from Temple University in 1938, he studied pre-law at The University of Pennsylvania
before his musical talents became his main focus. In 1940, he began working in sales at RCA Victor in New York, before joining
the army during World War II. While enlisted, Heebner produced V-Disc recordings for the Armed Services, and after the war
he returned to RCA to become the Artist and Repertoire Director at their Hollywood headquarters. In 1950, he left to become
the producer of the radio program "The Spade Cooley Show," on KCLA. Cooley was a popular western-swing artist and television
star at the time. Several years later, he left and returned to New York to create a music library for Capitol Records, and
also began composing music while serving as producer for many high-profile artists of his day, including Frank Sinatra, Shirley
Temple, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Roy Rogers. In 1962 he acquired the Welte Piano Roll Masters, and began reproducing
these recordings using contemporary methods, resulting in a vibrant quality.
Scope and Content
This collection consists of a mixture of materials documenting the work of Walter Heebner, acclaimed musician, songwriter,
record producer, former Director of A and R for RCA Victor's Hollywood Division, who also served as an executive for Capitol
Records. This collection is unique as it documents the creation, legacy, and preservation of musical history throughout the
Included in the collection are the open reel masters of the Welte Legacy of Piano Treasures, correspondence with notable musicians
such as Henry Mancini, Rudolph Ganz, Spike Jones, and Lotte Lehman, photographs, press materials, business papers, contracts,
legal documents, original sheet music manuscripts, genealogical research, and musical gig diaries from the pre-war World War
The open reel masters for the Welte Legacy of Piano Treasures are transfers of the piano roll recordings begun by Edwin Welte,
a German pioneer in the field of piano manufacturing, and inventor of the world's first reproducing piano. The Welte-Mignon
Reproducing Piano was groundbreaking for its ability to replay the individual recordings of live music after it was recorded
onto a piano roll. Due to its unique method of recording, the Welte-Mignon was able to capture the dynamics of tempo, phrasing,
and pedaling of each individual performance. After having his new instrument patented, Welte invited the most accomplished
and renowned living piano players at the time to play for him, and the reproductions were manufactured and distributed beginning
in 1904. This popular system lasted until the late 1920s, when phonographs became the most popular device for musical recording
and reproduction. In 1962, Walter Heebner received a set of master rolls from Richard Simonton, and replayed them on a modern
Steinway piano, resulting in a revitalized sound through analog stereo that surpassed the playing from the Welte-Mignon. These
recordings were later released through Heebner's own company, Recorded Piano Treasures.
Series 1. General Files, Series 2. Diaries, Series 3. Scrapbook, Series 4. 10 inch Open Reel Tapes.
File names in Series 1., General Files, retain the creator's naming convention.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Welte legacy of piano treasures
Welte-Mignon reproducing piano
Sound recording executive and producers -- United States
Heebner, Walter S., 1917-2002 -- Archives
Mancini, Henry -- Correspondence
Jones, Spike, 1911-1965 -- Correspondence
Ganz, Rudolph, 1877-1972 -- Correspondence
Lehmann, Lotte -- Correspondence
Capitol Records, Inc.