Guide to the Papers of Leni and Herbert Fromm

AR 10609 / MF 1011

Processed by Dianne Ritchey and LBI Staff

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2009 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey in October 2009. Description is in English.
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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Fromm, Leni, 1908-1997
Title: Leni and Herbert Fromm Collection
Dates:bulk 1958-1973
Abstract: This collection primarily holds material on the professional lives of Leni Fromm, hostess of the Boston based German Radio Hour, and her husband, the composer Herbert Fromm. Papers here include material on Leni Fromm's radio program and some of Herbert Fromm's professional appearances and activities. Some of the Fromms' personal correspondence is additionally included. The collection comprises correspondence, radio scripts, unpublished manuscripts, clippings and articles, and a few music scores and photographs.
Languages: The collection is primarily in German and English.
Quantity: 4 linear feet and 1 OS folder
Identification: AR 10609 / MF 1011
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Herbert Fromm was born in Kitzingen, Germany in 1905, and studied at the State Academy of Music in Munich. He was an assistant conductor for state operas in Bielefeld and Würzburg. After losing his position in 1933, he became involved with the Jüdischer Kulturbund in Deutschland. While working for the Kulturbund he began incorporating Jewish themes into his compositions, and it was also at the Kulturbund that he met his future wife, Leni Steinberg.

In 1937 Herbert Fromm immigrated to New York, where he found a position as the organist and choir director of Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo, New York. In 1941 he married Leni Steinberg. During the same year he began working at Temple Israel in Boston, where he became the Temple's music director and organist. He remained with the Temple until his retirement.

Herbert Fromm attained recognition for his liturgical music, and composed a number of works for use in synagogues. His work Song of Miriam received the Ernest Bloch Award in 1945; in 1966 he was also awarded an honorary doctorate from Langley College. In addition, he was the author of three books: The Key of See: Travel Journals of a Composer; Seven Pockets; and On Jewish Music: A Composer's View. By the late 1950s Leni Fromm was working as hostess of the German Radio Hour program at the Boston radio station WBOS (later WGBH). The program ran once a week from 1958 until 1973.

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Scope and Content Note

The Leni and Herbert Fromm Collection documents the professional activities and, to a lesser extent, personal lives of this couple. The most predominant subject is Leni Fromm's work as hostess of the German Radio Hour in Boston, Massachusetts; other salient subjects include Herbert Fromm's occupation as a composer and musical director. The collection features personal and professional correspondence, radio scripts, manuscripts of Herbert Fromm's writing, clippings and articles, programs, and schedules, among other papers. This collection is a consolidation of two previous collections, the Leni Fromm Collection and the Herbert Fromm Collection; Series I comprises papers from the former and Series II the latter.

Professional papers concern the bulk of this collection. Chief among these are the professional papers of Leni Fromm. Documentation of her position as hostess of the German Radio Hour is found in Subseries 2 of Series I, and includes correspondence, copies of scripts, and related papers. Most of this correspondence is between Leni Fromm and potential guests for the radio show, and involves co-ordination of the guests' appearances. Other letters are from representatives of the radio station, the German Consulate, or members of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), who sponsored the show. Some folders hold correspondence from listeners, especially in response to puzzles posed by Leni during the show, or to demonstrate their support of the program. Scripts are available for nearly every show, and include the texts of advertisements as well as the content of the program and stage directions. Other material, including articles on various topics, may have been used in the production of the show or selection of guests or programming.

The professional papers of Herbert Fromm are also prominent in this collection, and comprise the second subseries of Series II. Such papers significantly include manuscripts of his writings, material pertaining to the New England Jewish Music Forum, and a small amount of examples of his musical compositions and texts for vocal music.

Personal correspondence is additionally featured in this collection, although it is almost entirely from other individuals and does not provide significant information on the biographies of Leni and Herbert Fromm. Personal correspondence sent to Leni Fromm will be found in the initial subseries of Series I, while Herbert Fromm's personal letters are in the first subseries of Series II.

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The collection is arranged in two series in the following manner:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Collection is microfilmed - MF 1011.

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

Access Restrictions

Collection is microfilmed, please use MF 1011.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

The Music Archives at the Jewish Theological Seminary has a Herbert Fromm Collection consisting of thirty-two boxes and three online finding aids that describe the collection.

The LBI Library includes a copy of Herbert Fromm's published book The Key of See: Travel Journals of a Composer[ML 410 F96 A3]. Published copies of Herbert Fromm's other books are available at the LBI's partner institutions at the Center for Jewish History. The library of the American Jewish Historical Society has his book Seven Pockets, while the YIVO Library holds On Jewish Music: A Composer's View.

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Separated Material

An audioreel and an audiocassette have been removed to the Audiovisual Collection.

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Custodial History

[information about the chain of ownership of the materials being described, before reaching the archive]

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Collection is available on 9 reels of microfilm (MF 1011).

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Leni and Herbert Fromm Collection; AR 10609; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

This collection was formerly two archival collections, the Leni Fromm Collection (AR 10609) and the Herbert Fromm Collection (AR 10610). The two collections have been integrated into one, with each series representing the previous collections.

Some periodicals without extensive notations were removed from the collection during processing, with photocopies of notations and copyright information retained in the archival collection.

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Container List

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Leni Fromm, 1923-1994

3.2 linear feet.

Divided into three subseries:

Scope and Content:

Series I holds the papers of Leni Fromm. This series primarily consists of material derived from her work on the radio, where she was host of the German Radio Hour. Subseries 2, which contains the bulk of this series, pertains to this position, including program scripts, organizational correspondence, and other documentation. Subseries 1 constitutes Leni Fromm's personal correspondence. A few papers relating to various other subjects, such as an article advocating the support of witnesses for Germany's SS trials and the collection of funds for a memorial for the artist Ludwig Mestler, comprise Subseries 3.

Subseries 1: Personal Correspondence, 1923-1994

0.5 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 accommodates the personal correspondence of Leni Fromm. This correspondence seems to primarily be from others to her, and relate personal events, news and holiday greetings. Some individuals mention Leni Fromm's work at the German Radio Hour. Many of the individuals she knew were involved in the musical field. One folder of family correspondence will be found here as well, from an uncle and aunt with an unidentified surname; these letters largely concern packages sent to them by Leni Fromm.

Two memoirs of other individuals are included in this subseries. One of these is the memoir of Kurt (later Ken) Baumann; his memoirs discuss his childhood, his work with the Jüdischer Kulturbund, and his later work with the Ithaca Opera Association following his emigration from Germany. The memoirs of the composer Rosy Geiger-Kallman, the mother of Leni Fromm's acquaintance Hermann Geiger, are also in this subseries.

An audioreel sent to Leni Fromm by Ernst Mayer has been removed from this subseries to the LBI Audiovisual Collection.

11Baumann, Kurt (Ken)1984-1987
12Baumann, Kurt (Ken) – Memoirs1977
13Brookline Library Music Association1988-1994
14Carey Family1983-19890
15Ehrenberger, Eva1962-1968
16Epstein, Mary Wolfman1981-1986
17Family – Uncle Paul and Aunt Ida1943-1952
18Farau, Alfred1962-1964
19Freudenberger/ Steinberger Family Members1923-1961
110Geiger, Hermann and Else1965-1976
111Geiger, Hermann and Else – Memoirs of Rosy Geiger-Kallmann1961, 1964
113Knab, Yvonne1978-1985
114Leo Baeck Institute1966-1970, 1972
115Marx, Hilde1967, 1983
116Marx, Joanne and Max1962-1982
117Mayer, Ernest1978-1982
118Meyerowitz, Theresa1966
119Moyers, Frederick1977-1981
120Schaeffer-Simmern, Henry1973-1981
121Schames, Edith1967-1986
122Steinberg, William1968-1978
123Stöber, Else and Sigfrid1970-1983
124Stöber, Else and Sigfrid1984-1990
125Wackers, Coba1977-1981

Subseries 2: German Radio Hour, 1955-1994

2.7 linear feet.

Divided into three subsubseries:

Scope and Content:

The German Radio Hour was hosted by Leni Fromm for more than a decade. It originally broadcast on the Boston radio station WBOS, which later became WGBH, and originally aired on Sundays, but was later moved to Saturday. Subseries 2, which is the largest part of this collection, contains papers accumulated by Leni Fromm during her tenure as hostess. It includes correspondence, many scripts and schedules, and various other documentation which may have been used by her as research for upcoming programs.

Subsubseries A: Correspondence, 1958-1976

This subsubseries is in German and English.
1 linear foot.

Scope and Content:

Subsubseries A contains organizational correspondence from the German Radio Hour. Most of the letters discuss the logistics of planning the program and include letters with guest speakers as well with representatives of the German Consulate and the American Association for Teachers of German (AATG), who supported the program. Letters from listeners are also present in this subsubseries. Among these are a folder of solutions to "puzzles" posed during the program. "Responses" includes listeners' pledges of support of the program, apparently in response to Leni Fromm's requests for indication of interest in the station's continuance of the program.

126Albert Schweitzer Tribute1965
127Altman, Howard1962-1965
128Antes, Hans-Peter1965-1972
129Brandt, Heidi1965-1971
130Carl Schurz Association1960-1968
131Clueren, Hermann-Josef1970-1973
132Der Deutsche Verein1962-1971
133Deutsche Welle1968-1972
134Deutsches Rundfunk Archiv1972-1977
135Doblin, Rudi and Helga1966-1970
136Ermeler, Rolf1968-1970
137Financial Reports and Correspondence1965-1973
141General1964-1969, 1973
144General – "Old"1960-1962
21General – "Old"1968-1971
22Gericke, Lise1962-1964
23Gittleman, Sol1964-1965
24Gropius, Walter1969-1976
25Killian, Edward1960-1966
26Lorand, Max1970-1973
27Pfarr, John1962-1963
28Plendl, Amy1961-1969
210Querfurt, Margot1965-1966
212Sergi, Ruth1964-1965
213Shepherd, Dagmar1967-1969
214Swiss Consulate1964-1965
215Thalmayer, Karl and Rose1966-1968
216Weimar, Karl S.1971-1972
217Wells, John1958-1962

Subsubseries B: Scripts and Schedules, 1958-1973

1.4 linear feet.

Scope and Content:

Scripts of the German Radio Hour comprise the bulk of Subsubseries B. In addition, there are some lists of program schedules along with related documents and notes. Numerous subjects were addressed during the program, although the focus seemed to have been on classical German music. Other topics addressed by the program included German literature and culture and, to a lesser extent, German contemporary politics. The scripts include not only Leni Fromm's spoken texts but stage directions such as indications of when tapes or records were to be played during the hour. Almost all scripts contain many handwritten notations, primarily corrections of text or directions. The scripts included advertisements of products and German-language events in addition to the program itself. Shifts in programming, such as time periods in which there were varying amounts of commentary or advertising, can be seen through perusal of the program's scripts. In addition, the scripts frequently mention sponsors, such as the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), the German Consulate, the Goethe Institut of Boston, and the Goethe Society of Boston, which were separate organizations. Advertisements for the program were in German and featured businesses involved in the German community of Boston.

219Broadcast Schedules1960-1965
220Broadcast Schedules1965-1973
221Primetime Magazine1970-1972
223Scripts1958 March-June
224Scripts1958 September-December
226Scripts1959 January-June
227Scripts1959 September-December
228Scripts1960 January-June
229Scripts1960 September-December
230Scripts1961 January-June
231Scripts1961 September-December
31Scripts1962 January-June
32Scripts1962 September-December
33Scripts1963 January-June
34Scripts1963 September-December
35Scripts1964 January-June
36Scripts1964 September-1965 June
37Scripts1965 September-1966 May
38Scripts1966 November-1967 December
39Scriptsundated, 1967
311Scriptsundated, 1967-1972
317Scripts – Notebook and Notes1967-1968
318Scripts – Poemsundated, 1959-1962

Subsubseries C: Research and Other Material, undated, 1922-1965

0.3 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

This subsubseries holds material pertaining to the German Radio Hour other than correspondence and radio scripts. Much of this material consists of articles and notes that may have been used to determine program material for the Radio Hour. A small amount of correspondence will be found among the papers here.

Most of this material was originally unsorted, with no observed order. Folder subjects were assigned during processing of the collection; some documentation was grouped together at this time by subject or format.

319Articles – Ilse Aichinger1964-1967
320Articles and Educational Material1965-1977
321Bamberg Symphony Orchestra1973
41General – Articles – Other Topics1958-1963
42General – Austro-American Association of Boston1955-1965
43General – Biographies1959-1965
44General – Kurt Haase Articles1958
45German Center Boston1968-1969
46Lieder und Klänge aus der Heimat1959-1975
47News from WGBH1968-1969
48Photographs – Musicians
49Publicationsundated, 1976
410Unsorted Material – Biographies1970-1972
411Unsorted Material – Clippings1969-1982, 1991
412Unsorted Material – Correspondence1968-1973, 1993
413Unsorted Material – Programs and Announcements1969-1972, 1994
414Unsorted Material – Script Fragments and Notes1959-1972

Subseries 3: Other Material, 1922-1965

0.3 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 3 contains various papers other than Leni Fromm's correspondence or items that relate to the German Radio Hour. Some of the material here is personal, such as a copy of a book given to Leni Fromm by her mother seven weeks after her fourteenth birthday. There are also photographs, most of which feature her, although there is an unidentified photo and one of possible friends. In addition, there is material on the artist Ludwig Mestler, for whose grave Leni and Herbert Fromm gathered money for a headstone. There is also the text of a speech given by Emmi Bonhoefer regarding efforts to assist witnesses for SS trials in Germany from foreign countries.

415Address by Emmi Bonhoefferundated
A/VAudiocassette – Frederick Moyerundated
416Book – Ein Winteridyll1922
417Ludwig Mestler Memorial1959-1965
OS 25Music Scores – Felix Wolfeundated
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Series II: Herbert Fromm, 1958-1990

0.5 linear foot.

Divided into two subseries, Personal and Professional.

Scope and Content:

Series II holds the papers of Herbert Fromm. Almost all of this material relates to Herbert Fromm's professional activities, such as his writings on Jewish liturgical music, some examples of his music compositions and vocal texts, and clippings, programs, and texts related to his public performances.

Subseries 1: Personal, 1970-1990

1 folder.

Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 contains a small amount of personal correspondence of Herbert and Leni Fromm. The letters are from friends and update the Fromms on recent happenings and significant events. Some photographs are included. A portion of the correspondence is from Jean Henry, wife of the late violinist William Henry, and includes several biographical articles about him.


Subseries 2: Professional, 1958-1990

0.5 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 holds the professional papers of Herbert Fromm. Among these papers will be found his writing as well as his compositions and evidence of his work as a music director and organist.

Several folders include examples of Herbert Fromm's writing in the form of unpublished manuscripts with many notations. Most notable of these are unpublished drafts of his work On Jewish Music, which was published in 1978. On Jewish Music discusses the history of Jewish music, especially noting the efforts of Salamone Rossi to reform Jewish liturgical music in the sixteenth century. The piece goes on to discuss the development of Jewish music and its various styles, as well as critiquing modern synagogue music in America. One article within this work discusses briefly the work of an organist. A second version of this manuscript includes copies of clippings, which may have information on topics mentioned in his manuscript. The folder of articles and poems includes fragments of Fromm's writings as well as several reviews written by him and one clipping that mentions him. The concluding folder of this subseries primarily contains texts used by Herbert Fromm at concerts and performances; many of these discuss the works performed or their composers. This folder also holds an intermission talk he gave during a radio program that discusses Jewish music, both secular and sacred.

Several folders of this subseries relate to the New England Jewish Music Forum, where both Herbert and Leni Fromm were members. Much of this material consists of programs and clippings that announce performances, in which Herbert Fromm was frequently featured. Among the small amount of correspondence concerning this organization is a 1959 telegram to Herbert Fromm from Forum members offering encouragement when he was to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York. Additionally included is material relating to the closing of the Forum in 1990.

Other documentation of interest may be the papers used by Herbert Fromm in his performances. The initial folder of this subseries holds a folder originally titled "Assignments;" these unidentified, handwritten notes may denote the positions of musicians who played under Herbert Fromm's supervision. In addition, there are music scores written by Herbert Fromm and some copies of song texts for various cantatas and song cycles used by him; many of these are based on various Psalms.

OS 25Certificate of Appreciation - Park Avenue Synagogue, New York City1952
421Correspondenceundated, 1973
422Correspondence – Julius Chajes1970
423Manuscript – Heinrich Schalitundated
424Manuscript – On Jewish Musicundated
425Manuscript – On Jewish Music – Drafts with Accompanying Articles1960-1974
OS 25Music Scoresundated, 1966
426New England Jewish Music Forum – Clippings1958-1968
427New England Jewish Music Forum – Clippings1970-1985
428New England Jewish Music Forum – Correspondence1959, 1990
429New England Jewish Music Forum – Other Materials1959-1990
430New England Jewish Music Forum – Programs1959-1987
431Other Programs – Germany1917-1937
432Other Programs – Sweden1972
433Other Programs – United States1955-1963, 1989-1995
435Stadttheater Würzburg - Programs1926-1933
436Texts for Vocal Music1981-1988
437Writing – Articles and Poems1936-1987
438Writing – Composer's Remarks and Public Talks1956-1978
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