Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the James Schwabacher Collection ARS.0024
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (82.32 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Source
  • Sponsor
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement
  • Related Collections
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: James Schwabacher Collection
    Dates: 1860-2006
    Collection number: ARS.0024
    Creator: Schwabacher, James
    Collection size: 71 boxes
    Repository: Archive of Recorded Sound
    Abstract: 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 assistance.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    James Schwabacher Collection, ARS-0024. Courtesy of the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    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.

    Related Collections

    The Archive of Recorded Sound also holds the Carmel Bach Festival Tape Collection, ARS0025. 

    Indexing Terms

    San Francisco Opera.
    San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
    Schwabacher, James
    Tenors (Singers)