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Guide to the Olivia Mattis Collection ARS.0107
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Sponsor
  • Scope and Contents
  • Source
  • Arrangement

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Olivia Mattis Collection
    Dates: 1988-1990
    Collection number: ARS.0107
    Creator: Mattis, Olivia
    Collection size: 1 box : 17 10.5" open reel tapes
    Repository: Archive of Recorded Sound
    Abstract: 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 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

    Olivia Mattis Collection, ARS-0107. Courtesy of the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    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 University.


    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 evident.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Avant-garde (Music)