Jorge Bolet was born in Havana, Cuba on November 15, 1914, and began serious study of the piano at age five under the direction of his sister Maria. He played his first public recital at age nine and appeared as soloist with the Havana Sinfonica at age ten. In 1927, he was awarded a scholorship to The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with David Saperton. During this period he also played often for, and received coaching from, Josef Hofmann and Leopold Godowsky. At sixteen, he appeared as a soloist with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Reiner in Carnegie Hall.
Upon his graduation in 1934, the Cuban government sent Bolet to Europe for further training under Moriz Rosenthal. While there, he began his concert career, appearing in Vienna, Berlin, Paris, London, The Hague, Amsterdam, Milan, and Madrid and other Spanish cities. Bolet's North American debut was in 1937, a performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy. This was followed by his New York recital debut at Town Hall in 1937 as winner of the Naumburg Award. He returned to Town Hall in 1940 as the first and only winner of the Josef Hofmann Award given by the Curtis Institute.
At the outbreak of World War II, Bolet joined the Cuban army and as a lieutenant served at the Cuban Embassy in Washington under regime of President Batista. After the Batista government fell, Bolet joined the United States Army and became an American citizen. While stationed in Tokyo with the Army of Occupation, Bolet conducted the Japanese premiere of "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, and made several appearances as soloist with the Nippon Philharmonic Orchestra.
Following his separation from the service, Bolet resumed his interrupted career. As both recitalist and soloist with orchestra, Bolet toured extensively throughout the world. He performed with most of the major orchestras including Amsterdam, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Copenhagen, Detroit, Los Angeles, Madrid, Minnesota, Oslo, Pittsburgh, and New York. He was known to an even wider audience through radio and television appearances on such programs as the Bell Telephone Hour. A leading interpreter of the music of Franz Liszt, Bolet recorded the soundtrack for "Song Without End," a 1961 film on the life of Liszt.
Bolet's first recordings appeared in the early 1950s on the Boston and Remington labels, and include a much-acclaimed performance of Prokofiev's Concerto No.2. Subsequently his playing was featured on releases from RCA Victor, Everest, Ensayo, Genesis, Opus, Columbia/CBS, Vox and most notably Decca/London, for whom he recorded an extensive cross-section of his repertoire during the last decade of his career.
Bolet taught for many years at The Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and at Indiana University in Bloomington, as well as conducting numerous master classes around the world. He died in San Mateo, California on October 16, 1990.
SERIES I - PERFORMANCE FILES
Here are found programs, reviews, advertisements, promotional materials and like documents that are related to specific performances of Bolet. The materials are organized chronologically by performance date, and span the period 1934 through 1989. This series is located in boxes 1 through 10.
SERIES II - PHOTOGRAPHS
This series consists of numerous photographs, snapshots and slides and is located in boxes 11 to 13. The photographs are arranged chronologically; a reference number appears on each photograph designating its approximate date (box 11 contains 1927.1--1987-.3; box 12 contains 1988, miscellaneous prints and various snapshots, box 13 contains slides taken by Bolet, oversize drawer numbers 4 and 5 contain large albums of photographs).
SERIES III - WRITINGS
Here are found various writings that have been divided into the following subseries:
- Writings about Bolet - Box 14
- Writings about Bolet cont'd - Box 15
- Miscellaneous writings - Box 15
- Letters - Box 16
- Contracts and Business letters - Box 16
- Press releases - Box 16
SERIES IV - RECORDING FILES
This series consists of reviews, advertisements and promotional materials that are related to commercial sound recordings made by Bolet, cassette tapes of others and video tapes of others. Sound recordings made by Bolet are arranged alphabetically by recording label, materials are located in boxes 17 through 19.
SERIES V - DATE BOOKS
Here are found calendars which listed upcoming performances by Bolet.Also listed are lesson times of students. This material is located in box 20.
SERIES VI - PERSONAL SCORES
This series includes conductors scores and individual orchestral parts for particular piano concertos. This material is located in box 21 and 22.
SERIES VII - MEMORABILIA
This series consists of awards, citations, scrapbooks etc, pertaining to the career of Jorge Bolet. This material is located in boxes 23-25.
SERIES VIII - December 1992 additions to the Collection