The core of the Piatigorsky Archives is the personal collection of one of the great musical artists of the 20th century, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky (1903–1976). The collection includes music manuscripts in Piatigorsky’s own hand, scores, audio recordings (commercial recordings, broadcast interviews, and test pressings), photographs, books, clippings, ephemera, programs, and documents including Piatigorsky’s letters home while on tour, drafts of his autobiography, and letters from the greatest performers and composers of the day.
Among the hundreds of commercial recordings and test pressings in the Piatigorsky Archives, most of which are rights-protected, there are 24 broadcast interviews with Piatigorsky. These give greater insight into Piatigorsky’s personality, thoughts, and opinions, all expressed in his inimitable Russian accent.
For more than sixty years, Piatigorsky performed with orchestra, in recital, and in chamber music throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Asia. Of the more than 500 programs in the collection, the programs here are examples of the breadth of his repertoire and a small sample of his extensive travels.
The Piatigorsky Archives holds more than 2000 notes, letters, and telegrams written to Gregor Piatigorsky in English, French, Russian, German, and Italian. There are letters from composers, some discussing works which were written for (and sometimes commissioned by) Piatigorsky; some from “unknown” composers pleading with Piatigorsky to perform their works; letters and notes from Piatigorsky’s musical colleagues, many of whom were the most important musicians of the 20th century; letters asking for money or assistance; congratulatory letters, fan letters, and get-well messages. There is also a group of letters written by Piatigorsky to his wife, Jacqueline, while on tour, describing the trials of train travel and orchestras good and bad.
Piatigorsky composed and arranged music for cello throughout his life. The examples included here are among the 187 drafts in his own hand. The Archives also contain more than 1300 of Piatigorsky’s personal orchestral scores and other sheet music.