Vladimir Rosing papers, 1912-2009, bulk 1912-1963

Summary Information


Vladimir Rosing (1890-1963) was a Russian tenor, producer, and director (primarily of opera) who worked largely in Britain and the United States. His papers include ephemera relating to his vocal and directorial career, but principally comprises his writings on art and politics, as organized and edited by his wife, Ruth, and son, Richard.

At a Glance

Call No.:
Bib ID:
12954868 View CLIO record
Rosing, Vladimir, 1890-1963
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Physical Description:
3 linear feet (3 manuscript boxes and one flat box)
The bulk of the collection is in English (Rosing and his family wrote primarily in this language). Some correspondence is in Russian; some press clippings are in Russian, French, and German; all these materials are contained in series I.
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.

This collection has no restrictions.

All original copies of digital and moving image media are closed until reformatting. Please email rbml@columbia.edu for more information.


Scope and Contents

The Vladimir Rosing Papers contain some material relating to Rosing's singing career, including press clippings, programs, correspondence, and photographs. These materials can be found in series I. However, the bulk of the collection relates to Rosing's post-World War II writings, such as drafts of his plays, essays, historical pageants, novel, and memoirs. These writings address, among other themes, Rosing's political and aesthetic beliefs, his early life in Imperial Russia (including a first-hand account of important political figures and events in the lead-up to the Russian Revolution), his experience of the music industry during both World Wars, and his opinions of various Soviet leaders (Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, etc.). These materials can be found in series II.

Although Rosing worked extensively as a producer and director in England, there is no material in this collection corresponding to these activities. Likewise, there is only scant material relating to his productions for major opera companies, his work in film and television, and his pedagogical work at the Eastman School of Music (where he founded an opera program in 1924); most material relating to his later career as a director and producer concerns his historical pageants (i.e., The California Story, 1950, at the Hollywood Bowl).

The Vladimir Rosing Papers contain significant contributions from Ruth Glean Rosing and Richard Rosing. Ruth Glean Rosing collaborated extensively with her husband, serving as his editor, amanuensis, and occasional co-author in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This collection preserves many of her handwritten edits on her husband's manuscripts, along with a draft of her 1993 biography of Rosing, and other ephemera arising from their relationship. This collection also contains material relating to Richard Rosing's research into his father, including transcriptions of most of the handwritten and typewritten manuscripts held in the collection and a 2004 documentary about his search for his father's pre-Soviet estate.

  • Series I: Vocal and directorial career, 1912-1995, undated, bulk 1912-1962

    This series primarily comprises material relating to Rosing's career as a recitalist, including programs for his concerts and clippings of reviews from the English, French, and Russian press. This series also contains some material relating to his later work as a producer and director, including publicity photographs, programs, and press clippings. His correspondence with collaborators can be found in this series. Please note that some of Rosing's directorial notes and outlines can be found interspersed in the notebooks in series II.

  • Series II: Writings (Rosing and family), 1923-2009, undated, bulk 1923-1963

    This series primarily comprises Rosing's political, aesthetic, and autobiographical writings, including his essays, dramatic works, memoirs, and novel. Most of these writings exist in the form of typewritten or handwritten drafts (contained in notebooks, loose paper, and stapled groupings), and date from after Rosing permanently emigrated to the United States during World War II; however, select published essays on operatic aesthetics, written for the Musical Courier in 1923, are also present. Much of this material corresponds to Rosing's memoirs, which contain recollections of his personal, professional, and political life from the 1890s to the 1920s. This series contains racial caricatures and depictions of targeted violence (particularly towards the Jewish and LGBT communities). Various materials in this series have been produced, reproduced, or mediated by Ruth Rosing and Richard Rosing. Ruth collaborated with Vladimir on many materials in this series, as an editor, co-author, and typist, and many materials contain her handwritten corrections. Many of Vladimir's manuscripts have been labeled, edited, transcribed, and word-processed by Richard, which are dispersed throughout the series in the order that he filed them - usually alongside the manuscripts that they correspond to.


This collection is arranged in 2 series. Both Rosing's wife, Ruth Glean Rosing and his son, Richard Rosing, played a significant role in organizing and labeling the collection, and these interventions have been largely retained in the ordering of materials. Following this original ordering, series I is organized by document type and series II is organized largely by work (although the notebooks invariably contain drafts of multiple works). This collection contains a number of word-processed transcriptions (of Rosing's draft material, etc., likely produced by Richard Rosing), which, following the original collection order, are interleaved throughout the collection with the documents that they correspond to.

Using the Collection

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.

This collection has no restrictions.

All original copies of digital and moving image media are closed until reformatting. Please email rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

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); Vladimir Rosing Papers; Box and Folder; Bakhmeteff Archive, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Materials

Chaliapin Family Papers (BA#0631): Rosing wrote extensively on his relationship with Fyodor Chaliapin and corresponded with Chaliapin's son, Boris. Also held at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Meredith Willson Papers: Various materials in this collection relate to Rosing's collaborations with composer Meredith Willson; other material relating to these collaborations is housed in Willson's papers at the Great American Songbook Foundation Archives.

Exiled from his native Russia, Rosing recorded his recollections of the Russian Revolution and the events leading up to it (including the Bloody Sunday Massacre, to which he was an eyewitness): as a political liberal, he clashed with both monarchists and Bolsheviks during this time, but as an aristocrat (and godson to Pyotor Stolypin), he attended a number of official events in the court of Tsar Nicholas II. His papers will therefore resonate with other memoirs by Russian émigrés held in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library's Bakhmeteff Archive.

Custodial History

Following Rosing's death in 1963, much of his original material seems to have fallen into the possession of his last wife, Ruth, who appears to have added some material of her own (namely, a draft of her 1993 monograph, Val Rosing: Musical Genius). This material then came into the possession of Rosing's son, Richard, to aid the production of his 2004 documentary, Finding Dzhulynka (included in the collection). Richard likely produced many of (if not all) the word-processed transcriptions and handwritten labels found in the collection. Some press clippings appear to have been purchased posthumously at auction: a letter from the auctioneer is enclosed with these materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2013.2014.M122: Source of acquisition--Mr. Richard Rosing. Date of acquisition--2013.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Callum Blackmore (GSAS). Finding aid written by Callum Blackmore in July 2023.

The processing of this collection was made possible by a Graduate Internship in Primary Sources from Columbia Libraries.

While this collection has been largely kept in the order in which it was received by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, much of the original packaging has been discarded. Rosing's papers were originally stored in a series of folders and envelopes which appeared to have been labeled by his son, Richard. The processing archivist has discarded the original folders and refoldered the collection into acid-free folders; Richard Rosing's original folder titles have been transcribed in the folder descriptions of the finding aid. The envelopes that originally housed many of the documents have been retained within the folders, adjacent to the materials that they once contained. Many documents were originally stored in plastic sheaths and some were wrapped in plastic cling film: most of these plastic containers were removed by the processing archivist. Many sheets of paper were held in metal ring- or clip-binders, which had invariably begun to rust: the processing archivist has removed documents from their binders wherever possible, discarding these binders in the process. The processing archivist has discarded all paperclips.

Even as binders, paperclips, and envelopes have been discarded, the original order of these documents has been maintained. Labels in the form of post-it notes (likely produced by Richard Rosing) have been kept with their original documents. In some cases, the processing archivist has condensed some of Richard Rosing's original folders into a single folder, and, in rarer cases, split up one of Richard Rosing's original folders into multiple folders across separate series. These changes are recorded in the folder description.

This collection contains two audiovisual and born-digital items: a compact disk, and a DVD of Richard Rosing's 2004 documentary about Vladimir Rosing. There were a number of oversized newspaper tearouts and magazines, which the archivist has reboxed in a flat container. The bindings on many of the older materials are coming loose and require careful handling; many documents are ripped, crumbling, or otherwise delicate. The collection features a number of stains and discolorations: these have been visually checked for mold, and one item (a scrapbook of press clippings, box 1, folder 4) has been removed for further inspection. This item was held in a plastic sheath inside a closed folder; thus, if mold is discovered, it is unlikely that other items were affected.

Biographical / Historical

Vladimir (dit Val) Rosing, 1890-1963, was a Russian tenor, director, author, impresario, and pedagogue. His international career on the concert and opera stages spanned the early 1910s through to the mid 1920s, after which he worked primarily in the United States and Britain as a producer and stage director for operas, plays, and musicals.

Although he was largely of Swedish and Russian-Jewish descent, Rosing was the great-grandson of a Baltic baron, and his family were wealthy and well-connected, affording the young Rosing a privileged position in Tsar Nicolas II's Russia. By the outbreak of World War I, Rosing had largely established himself in England, where he was mainly known as a recitalist, renowned for introducing contemporary Russian vocal repertoire to British audiences. Rosing was in England when the Russian Revolution broke out. A politically active liberal, Rosing was involved in the Red Sunday demonstrations of 1905 and witnessed the subsequent massacre. Consequently, he supported the Provisional Government of 1917 and lobbied the British government on its behalf. He was a staunch anti-communist and opposed to Bolshevik rule of Russia.

The 1920s witnessed the peak of Rosing's career as a vocalist: while he continued to appear on the European operatic stages, his reputation was buoyed primarily through a number of high-profile record deals and the expansion of his concert tours to the United States. Along with Fyodor Chaliapin, Rosing came to advocate for a new, more naturalistic style of operatic acting in which vocal performance was shaped by dramatic intent. His growing preoccupation with operatic realism led him to eventually abandon his singing career in favor of teaching, directing, and producing. His directing credits span a number of mediums, including television (the first televised operas for the BBC), stage (New York City Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera), and silver screen.

With the outbreak of World War II, Rosing emigrated permanently to the United States, where he remained for the rest of his life. Rosing's anti-communism only intensified during the Cold War. In the 1950s, Rosing increasingly sought to use his artistic output to promote what he saw as essentially American ideals of liberty, democracy, anti-totalitarianism, and enterprise. Beginning with his 1950 The California Story, Rosing turned his attention to grand historical pageants that dramatized key events in the founding of the United States. In collaboration with his fifth and last wife, the opera singer Ruth Glean Rosing (née Scates, married 1959), he became a prolific author of anti-communist literature: plays, novels, essays, and memoirs invariably decried the violence of Soviet leaders. Rosing was vocal in his political opinions, and many of his later writings express significant racial and anti-gay bias; these works also feature depictions of violence towards marginalized peoples.

Vladimir Rosing's family played a critical role in promoting his legacy after his death. In 1993, his wife, Ruth Glean Rosing (née Scates), produced a book-length biography of her late husband for Sunflower University Press, titled Val Rosing: Musical Genius. Vladimir Rosing's youngest son, composer Richard Rosing (born to Vladimir's fifth wife, Virginia Hillard, in 1955) produced a 2004 Telestory documentary, Finding Dzhulynka, about his attempt to find the Ukrainian country estate where his father spent much of his youth.

Subject Headings

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

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Autobiographies (literary works) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Clippings (Information Artifacts) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Drafts (documents) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Memoirs CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Scrapbooks CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
American Opera Company CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Chaliapin, Fyodor Ivanovich, 1873-1938 CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Lenin, Vladimir Ilʹich, 1870-1924 CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
New York City Opera CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950 CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Willson, Meredith, 1902-1984 CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Soviet Union -- History -- Revolution, 1917-1921 -- Personal narratives CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Anti-communist movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Anti-communist movements in art CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Biography CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Concert programs CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Concerts CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Opera CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Opera producers and directors CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Opera producers' and directors' spouses CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Political plays CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Realism in opera CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Russians -- United States CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID