Rare Book & Manuscript Library

İlhan Mimaroğ̆lu Papers, 1926-2012

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1842
Bib ID 12572058 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Mimaroğlu, İlhan K. (İlhan Kemaleddin), 1926-2012
Title İlhan Mimaroğ̆lu Papers, 1926-2012
Physical Description 40 linear feet (26 bankers boxes and 7 flat boxes)
Language(s) English , Turkish , French .
Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

Material is unprocessed. Please contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Unique time-based media items have been reformatted and are available onsite via links in the container list. Commercial materials are not routinely digitized.



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.

  • Series I: Correspondence and personal materials, 1936-2012, undated

    Series I contains Mimaroğlu's personal correspondence, writings, and other personal materials, including audio recordings assumed to be part of his personal music collection.

  • Series II: Journalism, music and cultural criticism, circa 1950-2012

    Series II contains materials related to Mimaroğlu's journalism and criticism. Much of this series is composed of manuscript and printed material, though it also contains recordings of his work for radio, especially the radio show he produced on New York's WBAI-FM from 1973 until 1980.

  • Series III: Music education and teaching, 1955-1966, undated

    Series III contains material from Mimaroğlu's education in musicology, composition, and music education at Columbia University and Teachers College. The majority of these materials date from 1955 until circa 1966. While access to the facilities of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (CPEMC) was crucial to Mimaroğlu's early compositions, these materials are located in Series IV.

  • Series IV: Music composition and performance, circa 1950-2012

    Series IV contains materials related to the composition and performance of musical works by İlhan Mimaroğlu. This series includes manuscript and printed sheet music, audiotape components used by Mimaroğlu in composing his electronic works, audiotapes of finished pieces, and commercially produced recordings on vinyl LP, audiocassette, and compact disc. There are also audio recordings, promotional fliers, programs, and other ephemera from live performances of Mimaroğlu's works. Finally, this series contains materials by other artists whose work directly influenced Mimaroğlu's, such as Jean Dubuffet's Musique Phénoménale and Experiences Musicales.

  • Series V: Music production, 1970-1993, undated

    Series V contains materials from Mimaroğlu's work as a record producer for Atlantic Records and the company's subsidiary label Finnadar Records, for which Mimaroğlu produced experimental albums between 1972 and 1987. The series contains audio recordings from studio sessions with musicians, as well as business correspondence, invoices, purchase orders, and other business documentation associated with Atlantic and Finnadar Records.

  • Series VI: Film and photography, circa 1980s-1990s, undated

    Series VI contains films and still photographs by Mimaroğlu. The majority of the items on film are components of works that were never completed, with the exception of The Street That Isn't. Frequent subjects of still photography include the musicians and composers with whom Mimaroğlu worked, and graffiti on the streets of New York City.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

Material is unprocessed. Please contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Unique time-based media items have been reformatted and are available onsite via links in the container list. Commercial materials are not routinely digitized.

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.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Īlhan Mimaroğ̆lu Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Materials

Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center Collection: Digitized recordings from the CPEMC (now called the Computer Music Center), including 10 items by Mimaroğlu.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2016.2017.M155: Source of acquisition--ARTHUR FOURNIER Fine & Rare, LLC. Method of acquisition--Purchase; Date of acquisition--6/5/2017.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

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.

Items 121, 339, 345, and 348 were stored in cases which identified their contents as follows. However, upon digitization, they were found to be blank. Item 121: X-2-82-062 Finnadar, part 2, undated. Item 339: İdil Biret (Direct to Disc), undated. Item 345: Arnold Schoenberg, LP; Aydın Esen (Ryles, Boston), 1985 February, undated. Item 348: Talks, New York City, 1975.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Diaries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Open reel audiotapes Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Personal papers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Phonograph records Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Composers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Composers -- United States -- Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Electronic music Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Experimental films Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mimaroğlu, İlhan K. (İlhan Kemaleddin), 1926-2012 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Music Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

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.