Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections
Sidney Finkelstein Papers, 1914-1974
11 boxes (5.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 128

Abstract:
Noted critic of music, literature, and the arts, as well as a writer and an active member of the Communist Party U.S.A. Includes letters to and from Mr. Finkelstein; original manuscripts of reviews, articles, essays, and books; legal documents, educational, military, and personal records, financial papers, contracts, photographs, and lecture and course notes.

Terms of Access and Use:

The collection is open for research.

Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Biographical Note

Sidney Finkelstein, born in Brooklyn, New York on July 4, 1909, received his Bachelor's degree from City College in New York in 1929 and his A.M. from Columbia University in 1932 before he became a renowned critic of music, literature, and the arts. In 1955, he earned a second master's degree from New York University. During the 1930s he served as a book reviewer for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and worked for the United Postal Service. In the 1940s he joined the music staff of the Herald Tribune and also served as a music reviewer for several other publications including New Masses, Masses and Mainstream. Finkelstein became active in the Communist Party U.S.A. (CPUSA) where he served as the party's leading musical and cultural theoretician. Finkelstein applied his interpretation of Socialist Realism in several books on arts and culture, the most famous being Jazz, a People's Music (1948). Between 1951 and 1973 he served on the staff of Vanguard Records, a New York based record label that specialized in jazz and classical recordings. In 1957 he was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee for his Communist party affiliation. Finkelstein died in Brooklyn, New York on January 14, 1974.

1909 Born July 4, Brooklyn, NY
1929 B.A., City College
1930s Book reviewer, Brooklyn Daily Eagle
1932 A.M., Columbia University
1940s Music staff, The Herald Tribune; also music reviewer, New Masses, Masses and Mainstream, and other publications
1951-1973 Staff, Vanguard Records
1955 M.A., New York University
1957 Called to testify before House Un-American Activities Committee
1974 Died, January 14, Brooklyn, NY; survived by two brothers
Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Sidney Finkelstein Papers (1914-1974) are organized into 3 series: Biographical (1914-1969), Correspondence (1934-1974), and Writings (1949-1973, n.d.). Biographical materials include legal documents, educational, military, and personal records, financial papers and contracts, photographs, and lecture and course notes. Correspondence includes letters both to and from Mr. Finkelstein and consists primarily of informal discussions of his works and the writings of others on related topics. Finkelstein's writings constitute the bulk of the collection and include original manuscripts of reviews, articles, essays and books he wrote during his career. Finkelstein's writings cover a broad array of topics and include discussions of jazz, classical music, music criticism, aesthetics, literary criticism, profiles of the work of individual artists, and Socialist Realism and its relevance and application to cultural studies.

Partial List of Correspondents
1946 Axelrod, Eric
1970 Cameron, Angus--of Knopf
1965 Capouya, Emile
1955 Cazden, Norman
1964 Cohen, Robert Sonné--physicist
1955, 1956 Downes, Olin--critic
1964 Gelbin, Gertrude--editor, Seven Seas
n.d. Hille, Waldemar
1956, 1965 Kent, Rockwell and Sally
1948 Lask, Tom--New York Times Book Review
1965, 1966 Lawson, John Howard
1970 Lowenfels, Walter
1964 Lumer, Hyman--editor, Political Affairs
1969 Markin, Ann
1966 Richmond, Al
1972 Russell, Ross
1966 Selsam, Millicent and Howard
1971 Schneerson, Grigon
1947 Siegmeister, Eliew--composer
1948 Smith, Harrison--Saturday Review
1953 Tamura, Toshio
1948 Thomson, Virgil--composer
1959 Veiaus, Abraham--Syracuse Univ.
1966 _______, John

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Sidney Finkelstein Papers (MS 128). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection

Acquired from: Maynard Solomon, 1986.

Processing Information

Processed by Linda Seidman and David Goldberg, 1986, 2001.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Special Collections and University Archives
W.E.B. Du Bois Library
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-9275

Phone: (413) 545-2780
Fax: (413) 577-1399
Language
English.
Books Written by Finkelstein
1947.Art and Society. New York, International Publishers.
1948.Jazz, a People's Music. New York, Citadel Press.
1952.How Music Expresses Ideas. New York, International Publishers.
1954.Realism and Art. New York, International Publishers.
1960.Composer and Nation: the folk heritage of music. New York, International Publishers.
1965.Existentialism and Alienation in American Literature. New York, International Publishers.
1968.The Sense and Nonsense of McLuhan.
1969.The Young Picasso.
1970.How Music Expresses Ideas , Revised and Enlarged edition.
1973.Who Needs Shakespeare?. New York, International Publishers.