Oral Histories

Interview of Jan Popper

UCLA professor of music and director of the UCLA Opera Theater. Founder of the UCLA Opera Workshop.
Opera Potpourri
Interviews not in a series, part one
Biographical Note:
UCLA professor of music and director of the UCLA Opera Theater. Founder of the UCLA Opera Workshop.
Greer, Leslie K.
Popper, Jan
Persons Present:
Popper and Greer.
Place Conducted:
Tapes I to III: Maria Holt, Director/Manager of the West Bay Opera Company's home in Palo Alto, California; Tape IV: Room 300F in PowellLibrary, UCLA.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Leslie K. Greer, Gold Shield Intern, UCLA Oral History Program; B.A., music, California State University, Long Beach, 1971; M.A., music, California State University, Long Beach, 1977; M.L.S., UCLA Graduate School of Library and Information Science, 1979.
Processing of Interview:
Editing was done by the interviewer. The verbatim transcript of the interview was checked against the original tape recordings and edited for punctuation, paragraphing, correct spelling, and verification of proper and place names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have beenbracketed. Popper reviewed and approved the editedtranscript. He supplied spellings of names notpreviously verified. The final manuscriptremains in the same order as the original taped material.Joel Gardner, Senior Editor, Oral History Program, reviewed the edited transcript before it was typed in final form. The interviewer compiled the index, wrote the introduction, and prepare the front matter, with the assistance of the Program staff.
6 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Childhood in Reichenberg (Liberec), Czechoslovakia; cultural life in Bohemia; family influences; attitude toward nature; early musical training; studies with notable musicians; business degree awarded; advanced musical study, University of Leipzig, 1928-31; entry into opera profession as coach; study at Neues Wiener Konservatorium; opera coach and conductor, Prague opera house, Prague Neues Deutsches Theater, 1930s; George Szell; theater life in Czechoslovakia; Henlein movement; pilot in Masaryk League; Jan Bier; Nazi takeover of Prague; escape to San Francisco, 1939; music in San Francisco; teaching at Stanford University, 1939-49; start of opera workshop at Stanford; premier of Peter Grimes at Stanford and performances at San Francisco War Memorial Opera House; Fulbright professorship to Tokyo; opera workshop at UCLA established, 1949; premieres at UCLA; Virgil Thomson present at premiere of The Mother of Us All; revivals of little-known works; introduction of opera workshop concept in California; opera workshops conducted around world; host of "Spotlight on Opera" (1955) and "Opera Workshop" (1963) on television; chairman, UCLA music department, 1963-66; music departments versus schools of music; academic study and performance; performers as teachers; instrumental teaching; Walter Rubsamen; William W. Melnitz; musical comedy workshop and Carol Burnett.