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Leopold Sachse Papers

Identifier: SCA-0045

Scope and Contents

The Leopold Sachse Collection consists of correspondence and professional documents passed down from Sachse to his son-in-law Erich Krueger. The bulk of the collection is from Sachse’s own letter files, where he saved letters, postcards, and telegrams addressed to him. Most of the letters are from the colleagues Sachse had as stage manager in Halle and Hamburg: composers, librettists, and performers with whom he worked. Among those colleagues are some of the best-known European opera composers of the era: Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Ernst Krenek, Hans Pfitzner, Ottorino Respighi, and Richard Strauss. Most of the correspondence was written to Sachse before his emigration to the US, but there are also a number of letters addressed to him in New York, perhaps most notably from Strauss in 1945 and from Korngold in 1942 (from Los Angeles). By far the largest quantities of items are from Richard Strauss (39 letters and one telegram).

A smaller set of materials consists of professional and personal items from Germany and the US that Sachse saved. As the prolific correspondence during the mid-1920s shows, Sachse worked closely with Richard Strauss on Strauss’s 1928 opera Die ägyptische Helena, for which the collection includes the composer’s sketchbook and a first edition piano-vocal score with a personal inscription from Strauss. Another subset of materials relates to the premiere of a German-language adaptation of Una cosa rara, the 1786 opera by Vicente Martín y Soler (with original libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte). The new German libretto as well as complete libretto parts are present.


  • 1824–1982


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Staff may restrict access at its discretion on the basis of physical condition.


The Leopold Sachse Collection is the property of the Queens College Libraries. All intellectual rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assignees. Queens College assumes no responsibility for the infringement of copyrights held by the original authors, creators, or producers of materials.

Biographical Note

Leopold Sachse was born in Berlin in 1880. He trained as an operatic bass singer in Cologne, Milan, and Vienna, and had his operatic debut in Berlin in 1899. In 1907, he became the general manager (Intendant) of the opera house in Münster, and went on to hold that post in Halle (1914–1919) and Hamburg (1922–1931). In 1931 he was demoted to Oberspeilleiter, and stayed on in that capacity until 1933, when he was forced out by the Nazis, who had just come to power. He then became involved with Jewish arts organizations that were producing music under increasingly antagonistic conditions. In 1935, he went to Paris to direct Lehár’s La chanson de bonheur, and then to New York to be stage director for Wagner operas at the Metropolitan Opera. In 1937, still expecting to return to Germany, the German consulate told Sachse that he was not welcome to return. His house in Hamburg was sold, and the contents of his bank accounts confiscated. He continued on at the Metropolitan until becoming general director of the newly formed New York City Center Opera (later the New York City Opera) in 1945. He also taught at the Julliard School and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.


Heer, Hannes, Jürgen Kesting, and Peter Schmidt, eds. Verstummte Stimmen: Die Vertreibung der “Juden” aus der Oper 1933 bis 1945: Der Kampf um das Würtemburgische Landestheater Stuttgart. Berlin: Metropol, 2008.

Petersen, Peter. “Sachs(e), Leopold.” In Das jüdische Hamburg: Ein historisches Nachschlagwerk, edited by Kirsten Heinsohn. Göttingen: Wallstein-Verlag: 2006.

Stompor, Stephan. Jüdisches Musik- und Theaterleben unter dem NS-Staat. Hannover: Europäisches Zentrum für jüdische Musik, 2001.


1.5 Linear Feet (, 3 boxes)

Language of Materials



Leopold Sachse was a German opera stage director. Because he was Jewish, he was forced to emigrate to the United States in 1935, and lived in the New York City area for the rest of his life. In the 1910s, 20s, and 30s, he worked with some of the most important European opera composers of the time, and the collection contains correspondence from many of them, often relating aspects of their collaboration. Sachse also collected important items relating to his career, including a sketchbook by Richard Strauss.



  1. Correspondence
  2. Professional and personal materials


The collection was donated to the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College in 1996 by Marjorie Navidi at the bequest of Erich Krueger, who was her brother-in-law. Krueger’s first wife was Sachse’s daughter.

Special Formats




Leopold Sachse Papers
Jonathan Greenberg
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Special Collections and Archives Repository

Queens College Library, CUNY
Benjamin Rosenthal Library RO317
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing 11367 USA us