Jacob Avshalomov papers., 1924-2004

Overview of the Collection

Avshalomov, Jacob
Jacob Avshalomov papers.
1924-2004 (inclusive)
1.75 cubic foot , (1 record carton, 1 oversize box and 1 oversize folder)
Collection Number
Coll 183
The papers of Jacob Avshalomov consist of correspondence, clippings, programs, musical scores, certificates, memoir books, photographs, and publications relating mostly to his musical career, as well as those of his sons, David and Daniel, and his Russian-born father Aaron. Also included are programs, reviews, and photographs of the Portland Junior Symphony / Portland Youth Philharmonic, which he led from 1954 to1995.
Oregon Historical Society Research Library
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public.

Funding for preparing and encoding this finding aid was provided by the OHS Performing Arts fund.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Born in Tsingtao (Qingdao), China, in 1919, to an American mother and Russian father, Maestro Jacob Avshalomov fell naturally into the world of composing and conducting orchestral music. His father, Siberian-born Aaron Avshalomov, composed music in China for thirty years, and in his final three years there, conducted the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. When Jacob was a boy, the family spent three years in Portland, where his father conductied the B'nai B'rith choral and orchestra. His parents separated, and after working as a teenager for a manufacturer in China, Jacob immigrated to the United States with his mother in 1937. His father followed in 1947. Jacob married Doris Felde in 1943, and their sons David and Daniel continue the family musical tradition.

After studying composition with Ernst Tock in Los Angeles, Jacob Avshalomov enrolled at Reed College in Portland, and joined the Portland Junior Symphony as a musician and apprentice to conductor Jacques Gershkovitch, a family friend. After earning his B.A. and M.A. in music from the Eastman School, he was drafted into the US Army for service during World War II. A Ditson Fellowship allowed him to study at Columbia University after the war, and he stayed on to teach and conduct the Collegiate Chorale. He returned to Portland in 1954 to succeed Gershkovitch as conductor and musical director of the Portland Junior Symphony. Under Avshalomov's direction, the symphony changed its name to the Portland Youth Philharmonic in 1978. For forty years, Jacob Avshalomov led the youth orchestra through concerts and recording sessions and on six international tours to Europe and Asia. In 1999, the youth orchestra feted his 80th birthday with a special alumni concert.

Jacob Avshalomov’s compositions include choral, chamber, and orchestral works, as well as vocal and keyboard pieces. He also worked collaboratively with his father, and in later years he set his wife's poems to music. Both as a composer and conductor, Avshalomov received many national awards and distinctions, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the New York Music Critics Award, and appointment to the National Council on Humanities. Locally, he was named Portland’s First Citizen and received the Governor’s Arts Award. His memoir, Avshalomov’s Winding Way, pays tribute to his father Aaron’s musicianship and formative role in nurturing Jacob's musical talent.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection contains programs and reviews of Portland Junior Symphony / Portland Youth Philharmonic concerts, including programs from the orchestra’s international tours. Personal papers of Jacob Avshalomov include correspondence, clippings, programs, certificates, photographs, and memoir books, relating mostly to his musical career, as well as those of his sons, David and Daniel, and his Russian-born father Aaron. Publications include musical scores, including collaborative works with his wife Doris Avshalomov, writings on American music and the Portland Youth Philharmonic, and manuscripts for his published memoir, Avshalomov’s Winding Way.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The Oregon Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library prior to any use of reproductions. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use of reproductions may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright holders.

Preferred Citation

Jacob Avshalomov Papers, Coll 183, Oregon Historical Society Research Library

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series A: Portland Youth Symphony/ Portland Youth Philharmonic
  • Series B: Personal papers
  • Series C: Publications
  • Series D: Photographs and Drawings

Acquisition Information

Accession numbers 24663, 26991, 27283, and 27552.

Separated Materials

Sound recordings from Accession 24663 have been transferred to the OHS sound recordings collection; published books are cataloged individually.

Related Materials

Portland Youth Philharmonic Records, Coll 184, OHS Research Library.

Related Materials

Jacob Avshalomov Scores, JPB 02-5, New York Public Library, Library for the Performing Arts, Music Division.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Series A:  Portland Junior Symphony / Portland Youth Philharmonic, 1924-1995Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Reviews - Portland Junior Symphony
Reviews - Portland Junior Symphony
Reviews - Portland Junior Symphony
Reviews - Portland Youth Philharmonic
Special programs - Portland Junior Symphony
Special programs - Portland Youth Philharmonic
Calendar - Portland Youth Philharmonic

Series B:  Personal papers, 1929-2004Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Awards, proclamations, and congratulations
Performances of compositions by Aaron, Jacob, and Daniel Avshalomov
"Leaves from his Memory Book May 1985 and some Lingering earlier ones"
1985 May
"Appreciations of Jacob Avshalomov"
2004 September
Clippings - Aaron Avshalomov
Clippings - Jacob Avshalomov
1954-2002; undated
Clippings - David and Daniel Avshalomov
Correspondence - Oppenheimer Casings Company
Photocopies of correspondence between Oppenheimer Casings Company and U.S. government offices regarding the recovery of it lost merchandise en route from Sinkiang Province to Tientsin, China, in the 1930s. Jacob Avshalomov was an employee of Oppenheimer in his teenage years. Original are held by the National Archives and Records Administration.
oversize folder
Poster -- Portland Junior Symphony tribute to Aaron Avshalomov
1969 May 18
Musical Scores for "City Upon a Hill, a Cantata for Chorus, Orchestra, and Speaker" by Jacob Avshalomov
2 spiral bound folios with handwritten revisions by Jacob Avshalomov (copy 1 without speaker; copy 2 with speaker).
1967 July - 1987 March

Series C:  Publications, 1954-2001Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Musical Scores
Music composed by Jacob Avshalomov; lyrics by Doris Avshalomov. Published by Howlet Press, Portland, Oregon.
1994; 1996
Piccolo Spoleto Symposium, Charleston, South Carolina: "Where is Our American Music?"
Jacob Avshalomov on Portland Youth Philharmonic
1954-1962; 1995
Manuscript, Part I - Avshalomov's Winding Way
Author's note: manuscript version before final cuts.
circa 2001
Manuscript, Part II - Avshalomov's Winding Way
Author's note: manuscript version before final cuts.
circa 2001
Manuscript - Avshalomov's Winding Way
Photocopies of proposed images.
circa 2001
Manuscript - Avshalomov's Winding Way
Galley proofs.

Series D:  Photographs and Drawings, 1980-1994Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Pencil portrait of Jacob Avshalomov by Donna Ryan
1980 September
3 oversize photos:
  • Jacob Avshalomov with Victor Atiyeh and Barbara Roberts, 1994 February 14
  • Group photograph of Portland Youth Philharmonic members in Seoul, Korea, 1992
  • Jacob Avshalomov conducting the Portland Youth Philharmonic at The Brucknerhaus, Linz, Austria, 1989 March 20
Box 2
Mounted photograph
Jacob Avshalomov conducting the Portland Youth Philharmonic, location unknown (probably at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Music--Oregon--Portland--History
  • Russians--Oregon--History
  • Composers--Oregon--Portland
  • Concerts--Oregon--Portland-- Reviews
  • Conductors (Music)--Oregon--Portland
  • Musicians--Oregon--Portland
  • Symphony orchestras--Oregon--Portland--History

Personal Names

  • Avshalomov, Aaron, 1894-1965
  • Avshalomov, Daniel
  • Avshalomov, David, 1946-
  • Avshalomov, Doris (creator)
  • Avshalomov, Jacob, 1919 (creator)

Corporate Names

  • Portland Youth Philharmonic
  • Portland Junior Symphony Orchestra

Geographical Names

  • Portland (Or.)-- Performing arts.

Form or Genre Terms

  • Clippings
  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts for publication
  • Memoirs
  • Personal papers
  • Photographs
  • Programs
  • Scores