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Series I: Correspondence and personal materials, 1936-2012, undated
Series IV: Music composition and performance, circa 1950-2012
Series V: Music production, 1970-1993, undated
At a Glance
This collection is unprocessed. A preliminary arrangement scheme was imposed in October 2020 in preparation for digitizing and providing access to the unique audio and moving image components of the collection. This arrangement may be revised after processing is complete. The collection is currently arranged in six series.
The collection documents the career and personal life of Turkish-American electronic music composer, record producer, journalist and cultural critic, photographer, and filmmaker İlhan Mimaroğlu (1926-2012). It includes materials from each of Mimaroğlu's professional interests and activities, the bulk of which date from the early 1950s until his death in 2012.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
Material is unprocessed. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
This collection is located on-site.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Īlhan Mimaroğ̆lu Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center Collection: Digitized recordings from the CPEMC (now called the Computer Music Center), including 10 items by Mimaroğlu.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Collection-level record describing unprocessed material made public in summer 2018 as part of the Hidden Collections initiative.
Preliminary arrangement and audio and moving image processing by Celeste Brewer, October-December 2020.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
İlhan Mimaroğlu (1926-2012) was an early composer of avant-garde electronic music, a record producer best known for his work with Charles Mingus on the Atlantic Jazz label, a journalist and cultural critic, and a photographer and filmmaker.
Mimaroğlu was born in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 11, 1926, to the prominent architect Mimar Kemaleddin and his wife Sabiha Hanım, a teacher. Mimaroğlu graduated from Galatasaray High School in 1945 and the Ankara University Faculty of Law in 1949, though he never practiced law. He instead embarked on a career as a music journalist, radio broadcaster, and jazz clarinetist.
In 1955, Mimaroğlu was awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship, which enabled him to spend a year studying musicology and composition at Columbia University in New York City. He returned to New York and enrolled in Teachers College's Master of Arts program in Music Education in 1959. The same year, Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky established the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center.
The Electronic Music Center became the focal point of Mimaroğlu's time at Columbia. He worked as a technical director and a teaching assistant for Luening and Ussachevsky. His master's thesis, titled "Electronic Music," explored the medium in detail. Mimaroğlu also took advantage of his access to the Electronic Music Center's Mark II Sound Synthesizer to complete several electronic compositions which were released on commercial record labels to positive reviews. These included Intermezzo and Bowery Bum (Visual Study No. 3 After Jean Dubuffet) (1964), as well as Le Tombeau d'Edgar Poe and Agony (Visual Study No. 4 After Arshile Gorky) (1965). In addition to Luening and Ussachevsky, Mimaroğlu's influences during this period included Edgar Varèse and Stefan Wolpe, with whom Mimaroğlu undertook private studies in composition.
In 1966, the Groupe de Recherches Musicales invited Mimaroğlu to work in their studio in Paris. Mimaroğlu maintained an affiliation with the GRM and the French musical avant garde for the rest of his life. La Ruche, Mimaroğlu's 1968 tribute to the storied Montparnasse artists' residence which was then at risk of demolition, was commissioned by the Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française. Federico Fellini also included two of Mimaroğlu's Preludes, No. 2 and No. 12, in the soundtrack for his 1969 film Satyricon.
Two of Mimaroğlu's most notable artistic collaborations took place in the early 1970s. Sing Me a Song of Songmy, a 1971 experimental album opposing American involvement in the Vietnam War, was a joint effort with the jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Mimaroğlu had also struck up a friendship with the artist Jean Dubuffet after hearing Dubuffet's musical experiments with magnetic tape in the early 1960s. Mimaroğlu scored Dubuffet's "spectacle" Coucou Bazar, which debuted in Dubuffet's retrospective exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in May 1973.
In addition to composing music, Mimaroğlu worked as a music producer for Atlantic Records. He first compiled classic jazz reissues in the 1960s, then secured funding from Atlantic for an experimental music label, Finnadar Records. Finnadar's first release was Mimaroğlu's own Wings of the Delirious Demon (1972). Mimaroğlu continued to produce albums under the Finnadar imprint until 1987. He was also made a staff producer at Atlantic Jazz in 1973, where he remained for the next three decades, working most notably with Charles Mingus.
Mimaroğlu worked consistently in other media as well. Throughout his career, he published articles, essays, reviews, and more than a dozen books in Turkish and English. From 1973 until 1980, he produced a show on culture and politics on New York City's WBAI radio station. He also contributed art criticism to Voice of America. Mimaroğlu began to explore experimental filmmaking and photography in the 1980s; he used both to explore his drive to compose electronic music and to document life on the streets of New York City.
İlhan Mimaroğlu's wife, Güngör Mimaroğlu, was a political activist and a fixture of the Turkish expatriate community in New York. The couple married shortly before moving to New York City, leaving Güngör's son from a previous marriage, Rüstem Batum, behind in Turkey. She appeared in many of her husband's works; the voice reading an Orhan Veli poem on Fellini's Satyricon soundtrack is hers. The Mimaroğlus were married for 51 years, until İlhan's death from pneumonia on July 17, 2012, in New York.