Skip to main content
Luigi Silva

Lev Aronson Musical Score Collection, 1912-1988


Lev Aronson was born February 7, 1912 in Munichen Gladbach, Germany. His parents, from Riga, Lativia, were on a trip in Germany at the time of Aronson's birth, and they returned to their family home in Riga three weeks after Aronson's birth. Aronson began playing cello professionally at the age of 13, performing in silent movie orchestras and clubs.


Upon his graduation from high school at 16, Aronson moved to Berlin to study law, but was recommended by a fellow cellist as a student to Julius Klengel. Aronson pursued his career in cello performance. Aronson graduated from Berlin Hochschule fur Musik, continuing instruction under Alfred von Glehn and Gregor Piatigorsky in Berlin. Ultimately, Piatigorsky would continue to be Aronson's mentor and role model.


Aronson graduated from the Berlin Conservatory in 1932 and began performing locally with three German friends in the Peters String Quartet in addition to performing throughout Europe as a soloist and in orchestras. Although the Jewish population of Europe became subject to increased political hostility through the 1930s, Aronson was able to perform and served as principal cellist for Liepaja (Libaja) Philharmonic Orchestra. German forces invaded and occupied Riga in June of 1941. Aronson's cello was confiscated and he was taken into custody in July of 1941. Aronson and his family were confined to the Riga Ghetto in August of 1941. As a prisoner in a forced labor gang, Aronson was sent to  Kaiserwald, Buchenwald, Gotendo, Burggraben, and Lauenberg. Aronson was detained a total of four years in Nazi camps. During this time, Aronson befriended tenor, Gregor Shelkan, with whom he would compose several of the original compositions within the collection. Aronson's parents and sister were killed.


When the Russian military freed the survivors of the Lauenberg camp on April 10, 1945, Aronson was taken into custody by the Russian military under suspicion of being a German spy. Aronson escaped the Russian camp, and fledfrom Liegnitz to the American militarized zone of Berlin in July of 1946.


Aronson immigrated to the United States in 1948, reuniting with his mentor Piatigorsky. He accepted a contract with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and moved to Texas. Aronson served as principal cellist in the Dallas Symphony until 1967, but retired due to a heart condition.  Aronson was offered a teaching position at Baylor University in Waco. In 1980, Aronson began teaching at Southern Methodist University and married cellist Harriet Springer. In the 1970s, Aronson collaborated with Croatian cellist, Rudolf Matz, producing the two volume work, The Complete Cellist. Drafts and correspondence relating to this publication can be found in the personal papers collection of Aronson and Matz.


Lev Aronson died in Dallas on November 12, 1988. His students include Lynn Harrell, Ralph Kirshbaum, Brian Thornton, John Sharp, Adron Ming, Brook Pearce, Christopher Adkins, Alicia Randisi-Hooker, Karen Terbeek, Carol haski, Philip Taggart, Kevin Dvorak, and Mitch Maxwell.


The collection primarily consists of scores owned or relating to cellist Lev Aronson. The collection features several manuscripts and facsimiles of music for voice and instrument composed with Gregor Shelkan relating to their experiences in the Nazi and Russian labor camps. Two oversized manuscript scores in Aronson's hand are signed with Aronson's inmate identification number, KZ-95573 . The dominate dates of publications within the collection range from 1920 to 1980.


Not all items from this collection have been digitzed. New items are being added regularly.


Browse all items in the digital collection


View the collection finding aid


Browse all items


Browse by series/grouping:


View collection finding aid

Select the collections to add or remove from your search