By Catherine Hammer, under the supervision of Elizabeth Berndt-Morris
Predominant Dates: 1945-1997
Collection Identifier: Kessler Collection
Primary Creator: Kessler, Minuetta, 1914-2002
Extent: 31.0 Cubic Feet
Arranged in 6 series:
4. Print Masters
5. Programs, Articles and Reviews
6. Published Scores
Minuetta Shumiatcher Kessler was born in Russia in 1914. Both of her parents were Canadian citizens, but her mother was visiting family in Russia when she was born. A child piano prodigy, she grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and gave her first public performance at the age of 5. She graduated from Juilliard School of Music and went on to perform at Carnegie Hall as well as with the Boston Civic Symphony and the Boston Pops.
While a student at Juilliard, she met Ernest Borek, a microbiologist at Columbia University. The two married, and their son, Ronald, was born in 1943. Shortly after her son’s birth, she decided to stop touring in order to spend time with him; it was also at this time that she began composing again in earnest. She had created her first original work at the age of 4 and had written piano pieces through her time in Juilliard, but at this point, she wrote her first fully orchestrated work. Alberta Concerto, inspired while traveling in Canada during the summer, premiered in 1947; it was very well-received.
Following her divorce from Borek in 1948, she continued to compose. Her body of work includes a very wide range of styles and source material: vocal pieces which incorporate sacred text, children’s piano books, a full length opera, and original creations that she performed while on tour. She moved to Massachusetts in 1952 when she married Dr. Myer M. Kessler, a physicist at MIT; the two had a daughter had a daughter named Jean. Many of her original works were self-published by Musical Resources, a publishing company she ran out of her home. Dr. and Mrs. Kessler remained in Massachusetts until their deaths: his in 1997 and hers in 2002.
In addition to her performance career, Minuetta Kessler was an advocate for female composers and became a notable voice in music education. She was involved with the New England Pianoforte Teachers’ Association, the American Women Composers of Massachusetts, Sigma Alpha Iota, and cofounded New England Jewish Music Forum, Friends of Young Musicians, and Concerts in the Home.
Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. The Boston Public Library does not hold copyright on the material in this collection. Researchers are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright.
When reproducing material from this collection please include the credit line "Courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/Arts Department."
Physical Access Note: Many items are fragile and require special handling, please notify the Fine Arts staff prior to your visit.
Acquisition Method: The Boston Public Library acquired the Kessler Collection through a donation by the Minuetta Kessler.
Processing Information: Initially processed by staff of the Boston Public Library. Re-processed by Catherine Hammer (2016), under the supervision of Elizabeth Berndt-Morris, Curator of Music.
Complete Detailed Inventory Available Upon Request
Box 1: Achron, Joseph to American Women Composers
Box 2: American Women Composers
Box 3: Anders, Lynn to Association of Canadian Women Composers
Box 4: Banff Music School to Belmont Women's Club
Box 5: Bibliotheque Internationale de Musique Contemporaine to Boston Woman
Box 6: Cambridge Center for Adult Education to A Child's First Glimpse of Music
Box 7: Columbia Concerts to Concerts in the Home
Box 8: Concerts in the Home to Ecole Bilingue
Box 9: Finger Games to Instumentalists
Box 10: Instrumentalists to Kessler, Minuetta
Box 11: Kessler Minuetta
Box 12: Kessler, Minuetta
Box 13: Kessler, Minuetta
Box 14: Kessler, Minuetta
Box 15: Kessler, Minuetta to Kindermusik
Box 16: Minuetta Kessler Performing Artists to Music Guide for Kindergarten
Box 17: Music Teachers Association
Box 18: Musical Resources to National League of American Pen Women
Box 19: National League of American Pen Women to National Library of Canada
Box 20: New England Jewish Music Forum to North Shore Piano Teacher's Guild
Box 21: Parents to Piano Parties
Box 22: Publishers to Society of Composers
Box 23: Staftonia
Box 24: Television to Transcontinental Music Publications
Box 25: United States Copyright Office to Zamir Chorale Foundation