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.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Sidney Walter Finkelstein
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.
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.
Acquired from: Maynard Solomon, 1986.
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.
Processed by Linda Seidman and David Goldberg, 1986, 2001.
Encoding funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Cite as: Sidney Finkelstein Papers (MS 128). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.