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Mannes College of Music administrative records collection

Identifier: MA-01-01-01


The New School Archives staff created the Mannes College of Music administrative records collection by integrating several collections documenting the Mannes College of Music (now, Mannes School of Music). The collection includes correspondence, event flyers, photographs, legal records, meeting minutes, illustrations, administrative records and reports.


  • 1916-2015
  • Majority of material found within 1964-1990



2.6 Cubic Feet (2 boxes, 8 folders)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The New School Archives staff compiled this collection by integrating five discrete groupings of documents found in the Harry Scherman Library of the Mannes College of Music in 2015, as well as other documents from various groups of Scherman Library records encountered thereafter during processing. As a whole, these records document the history and administrative organization of Mannes, the operation of its Board of Trustees, the president and the faculty, and the dispute between the faculty and the Board of Trustees in 1978-1979, prior to Mannes joining The New School in 1989. The collection includes originals and copies of correspondence, event flyers, photographs, legal records, illustrations of the former Mannes building at 150 West 85th Street, administrative records and reports. The materials date from 1916 to 2011, but the bulk of the collection covers the years between the 1960s and the 1980s. Due to how the collection was assembled, Mannes’s history and administrative operation are not comprehensively documented here.

The processing archivist divided the collection into five series, based on the subject matter of the materials, or the originating office responsible for their creation.

The first series, General, consists of general administrative documentation, flyers, press clippings related to concerts, job descriptions, bylaws of the college, documentation related to the cooperation between Marymount Manhattan College and Mannes College of Music, school charters and charter amendments, documentation related to accreditations, correspondence between the school and the New York State Education Department, syllabi, student handbooks and directories.

The second series, Board of Trustees, consists of meeting minutes and correspondence regarding the work of the Board of Trustees and its committees, such as the Executive Committee, and the committees responsible for development work.

The third series, Faculty and Board of Trustees dispute, documents Mannes College of Music faculty members fighting against the Board of Trustees in order to prevent major structural and curricular changes, and to block a merger with the Manhattan School of Music. The series includes information on the hiring of legal representation, the formal dispute, student mobilization in support of the faculty, the firing of Mannes faculty, and the resolution by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York that lead to the dissolution of the Mannes Board of Trustees, and other administrative information chronicling the years of 1978-1980 (the time of the dispute).

The fourth series, Faculty committees, meetings and statutes, consists of meeting minutes and correspondence concerning various faculty committees, such as the Curriculum Committee, the Executive Committee and ad hoc committees.

The last series, Office of the President, consists of correspondence originating from the Office of the President, including Presidents Sidney Gelber, Stefan Bauer-Mengelberg, Hubert Doris, John Goldmark, Risë Stevens, Charles Kaufman, and Acting President Jack M. Watson; Chairmen of the Board of Trustees Girard L. Spencer and Craig D. Burrell; and Trustees Mrs. Girard L. Spencer, Mrs. Henry Clay Alexander, and Ruth A. Widder. This series also includes records of discussions and meetings held by President John Goldmark, and Acting President Jack M. Watson’s notes and plans for the merger between the Mannes College of Music and Manhattan School of Music. A number of the administrative files in this collection were possibly compiled by Valerie Feuer, an assistant to Charles Kaufman when he was president of Mannes in the 1980s.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Some files are restricted for a period of time in accordance with The New School Archives’ confidentiality policy, including student records, files with faculty and personnel information, and other sensitive university records. Please contact for more information.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Historical Note

The David Mannes Music School was established in 1916 by David Mannes, violinist and conductor, and Clara Mannes, pianist and daughter of conductor Leopold Damrosch, who were its first directors. The school offered music lessons to adults who were not seeking a diploma or certificate, as well as a course of study for professional musicians and teachers. Leopold Mannes, the son of Clara and David, was a trained musician as well as an inventor who developed the first commercial method of color photography, Kodachrome. In 1941, Leopold left the Eastman Kodak Company to serve as co-director of the Mannes Music School with his parents, and in 1948, after the death of his mother, Leopold Mannes became president of the school, with his father David remaining part of the school as founder. In 1953, with Leopold Mannes as president, the school received a charter as a degree-granting institution and its name was changed to The Mannes College of Music. In 1960, the school merged with the Chatham Square Music School. Leopold Mannes remained president of The Mannes College of Music until his death in 1964.

Sidney Gelber, head of the Academic Studies department of Mannes since 1954, was acting president from 1964 until 1966, when conductor Stefan Bauer-Mengelberg took on the position of president until 1969. Hubert Doris, a professor of music at Columbia University and a Mannes board member, became acting president in 1969 and held the post of president from 1970 to 1972, before being succeeded by Mannes’s dean, John Goldmark, who served as president from 1972 until his death in 1975. During his tenure, Goldmark finalized a cooperative agreement with Marymount Manhattan College, in which Mannes students took non-musical classes at Marymount, and Marymount students could enroll in music courses at Mannes. Although Goldmark remarked to the New York Times upon his appointment as president in 1972 that Mannes was in “good shape” financially, shortly after his death in March 1975 it was disclosed that Mannes had a $200,000 budget shortfall and would need to raise the money before the end of the fiscal year on June 30 or be shut down. By April 8, an emergency fundraising drive by students and faculty organized under Dean David Tcimpidis had raised $183,000, and the school was able to remain open.

Opera singer Risë Stevens was named president by the board of Mannes in July of 1975, and within the first year of her tenure as president, Stevens balanced Mannes’s budget, brought on new faculty (including the renowned pianist Vladimir Horowitz), and initiated the residence of the American String Quartet. Stevens’s focus as president was on preserving Mannes’s reputation for excellence and its character as a smaller school, as well as emphasizing music performance over theory. She was also interested in expanding the opera program at Mannes, but met with resistance from the board of trustees, and due to disagreements with certain members of the board, Stevens resigned in 1978.

In early 1979, under Acting President Jack Watson, the Mannes board of trustees explored a merger with the much larger Manhattan School of Music. The Mannes faculty immediately responded with a unanimous vote of no confidence in the school’s board. By February of 1979, however, the boards of both schools had voted to approve the merger, and with significant protest against the merger by Mannes students and faculty, two dissenting board members, Marya Mannes, daughter of David and Clara Mannes, and Craig D. Burrell, who had been board chair during Risë Stevens’s term as president, filed suit in court to block the merger. The suit revealed that under the conditions of the merger, Manhattan would retain its curriculum and faculty with no change, the name of the new institution would begin with “Manhattan,” and no more than ten to fifteen Mannes faculty members would be retained. Burrell noted in the complaint that although financial difficulties were cited as a pretext for the merger, Mannes had incurred no deficits from 1975 to 1977 and had paid off the mortgage on its property in 1978.

By March of 1979, the merger proposal had been withdrawn, and an inquiry into misconduct was opened by the New York State Board of Regents. However, twenty-four Mannes faculty members had already been dismissed from their posts by Acting President Watson. In May, the New York State Board of Regents voted to remove the Mannes board for neglect of duty. The new board of directors named Charles Kaufman, spokesperson for the Mannes faculty and one of the members previously dismissed, president of the school. During his tenure, Kaufman arranged to pay Mannes’s remaining debts, moved the school from East 74th Street to a larger building on West 85th Street, initiated an early music program which included the early music ensemble Mannes Camerata, and negotiated the incorporation of Mannes as a division of The New School in 1989, with Mannes maintaining independence and resolving financial issues by offering preparatory and continuing education courses through The New School. Kaufman became dean of Mannes in 1989 when it became part of The New School and served as dean until 1995, although he remained a faculty member until retiring in 2002.

Kaufman was succeeded as dean of Mannes by City College of New York music faculty member Joel Lester, who served as dean until 2011, and helped establish the Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory. Lester was succeeded by Richard Kessler, the current dean of Mannes School of Music and executive dean of the College of the Performing Arts at The New School as of 2022.


“$183,000 Is Raised By Mannes School, Averting Shutdown.” New York Times, April 8, 1975, 33.

“College of Performing Arts Faculty: Richard Kessler.” The New School. Accessed January 12, 2022.

Course Catalogs. “Mannes College of Music.” College of Performing Arts Course Catalog Collection. 1916-2006. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

Ericson, Raymond. “Risë Stevens Plays Role of Impresario.” The New York Times, March 25, 1977.

“Faculty Members Ask Mannes Music College To Halt Merger Talks: Viewed as Disappearance.” New York Times, January 20, 1979, 43.

Goldman, Ari L. “Regents Plan Inquiry into a Merger Proposed by Two Schools of Music.” New York Times, March 23, 1979.

Henahan, Donal. “Mannes College and Manhattan School Talk Merger: Nation's Largest Conservatory.” New York Times, January 12, 1979, C24.

Henahan, Donal. “Mannes-Manhattan Music Schools Merger Is Off: Preparing for the Worst.” New York Times, March 8, 1979, C18.

“Joel Lester, Dean of New School University’s Mannes College of Music, Elected President of the Society for Music Theory.” The New School, November 6, 2002. Accessed January 12, 2022.

Kellow, Brian. “Obituaries: Risë Stevens.” Opera News 77, no. 12 (June 2013): 68-69.

Kleiman, Dena. “State Removes Board of Mannes College.” New York Times, May 25, 1979.

Krebs, Albin. “Notes on People.” The New York Times, February 23, 1978.

“Leopold Mannes, Pianist, Dies; Inventor Headed Music School.” New York Times, August 12, 1964.

“A Man for Mannes.” New York Times, July 16, 1972, D11.

“Mannes College May Close Doors.” New York Times, March 21, 1975, 29.

“Mannes: History.” The New School. Accessed March 31, 2020.

“Mannes Merger is Voted, But Opposition Remains.” New York Times, February 23, 1979.

“Regents remove members of Mannes Board of Trustees." American Association of University Professors, Vol. 6 No. 2 (Summer 1979):6

“Remembering Dr. Charles Kaufman.” New School News, March 24, 2016. Accessed January 12, 2022.

“Risë Stevens Named Mannes President.” The New York Times, July 22, 1975.

Roberts, Sam. “Charles Kaufman, Transformative Leader of Mannes College of Music, Dies at 87.” New York Times, March 22, 2016.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged by subject in 5 series: 1. General; 2. Board of Trustees; 3. Faculty and Board of Trustees dispute; 4. Faculty committees, meetings and statutes; 5. Office of the President. Within the first 4 series, materials are arranged alphabetically, and within the last series, materials are arranged chronogically.

Custodial History

Due to the absence of administrative documentation, the provenance for the distinct groupings that make up this collection is unknown.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Harry Scherman Library of the Mannes College of Music to the New School Archives and Special Collections, as five discrete groupings of records, 2015-2016, with additional records, also transferred from the Scherman Library, added subsequently.

Related Materials

The New School Archives holds several other collections that document the Mannes College of Music: the Mannes School of Music clippings and scrapbook collection (MA-03-01-01); the Mannes School of Music photograph collection (MA-04-01-01); the Mannes College of Music Concert Office collection (MA-05-04-01); the College of Performing Arts course catalogs (MM-05-01-01); the Mannes School of Music Office of the Dean records (MA-01-03-01); and the Miriam Kartch Mannes College of Music administrative files (MA-01-02-01), which includes additional material documenting the 1979 Board of Trustees dispute.

Processing Information

Processed by Agnes Szanyi.

Guide to the Mannes College of Music administrative records collection
Jason Adamo, Agnes Szanyi and The New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
May 6, 2022
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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