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Register of the Papers of



6 ft.

MSS 122


Sandy VanDoren

June 1993


Andrew ("Andrei") Salama, son of Nicholas and Nadejda Salama, was born in Moscow, where his father reportedly owned the largest department store in the city, in about 1885.  During the Russian Revolution, Salama escaped from Moscow through the Dardanelles, en route to Paris, where many other White Russian émigrés were living.  While in France, he joined a theater group called La Chauve Souris [the bat], which was made up of Russian actors, singers and dancers, and was led by the impresario, Nikita Balieff.  Formed by Balieff in 1908 in a Moscow cellar, La Chauve Souris was essentially a revue troupe which would perform twenty or so unrelated sketches in an evening, all of its cast acting, dancing or singing in a wide variety of scenes.  Until the mid-1930s, dialogue and lyrics were almost exclusively in Russian.

Salama became the musical director for the troupe, as well as joining the cast as an actor and singer, and traveled with it to the United States in 1922, and to England and South Africa in 1932-34.  While performing with La Chauve-Souris, he composed his own music privately, some of which had already been published in Moscow, and he wrote arrangements for the Russian six and seven-string guitar.  Although he was not the musical arranger for the Balieff group itself, he did play the guitar and balalaika for it upon occasion.

He seems to have returned from time to time to the United States, especially to New York City, where in 1925 he helped found "The Russian Chamber Theatre," established to produce straight dramatic pieces.  He later appeared on the New York stage in a poorly reviewed melodrama.  By 1927, he was clearly writing and/or arranging music in the city, and already setting English lyrics to music (especially those of J.J. Robbins), often translating them into Russian.

In the late 1920s, Salama traveled to the Delaware Water Gap in Columbia, New Jersey, where he bought a hunting lodge from the Garris brothers.  He converted the lodge, which he called "Salamovka," into a kind of summer resort for White Russian émigrés, mostly musicians, artists or dancers.  Several of these summer visitors, many of whom were almost penniless and did tasks around the house rather than paying any rent, were well known in their field, including Soudeikine, who had designed sets for La Chauve Souris and covers for The New Yorker magazine.

By 1930, Salama was composing and arranging music at Salamovka in the summers.  By this time also, he had already met Virginia Bartow through the American singer and actress, Eleanor Cook, who appears to have been a part of the New York cast of La Chauve Souris.  Bartow, married to Nevitt Bartow, Jr., had begun a professional career in light opera and studied voice and music with Salama.  Her husband was a member of a very prominent, wealthy New York family, and after meeting Salama, she became his financial backer.  From the late 1930s on, she spent her summers at Salamovka, with Salama, his wife of many years, Ninaan actress, who had been a member of La Chauve Souris and the musicians, dancers and others who joined them there.  After World War II, Nevitt Bartow divorced his wife, and she spent much of her monetary settlement to pay off the mortgage on Salamovka.

Salama continued to reside in New York City, mostly on the upper East side, settling in an apartment on East 70th Street in 1941, where he appears to have lived until his death.  In addition to voice and music harmony, he taught piano and guitar.  He also actively composed and arranged all kinds of popular, folk, secular and religious music for guitar, piano and voice.  In a mock interview Bartow had with her nephew, Charles Hardy, in 1968, she says that when Salama first came to the United States, there was no written music for Russian folk songs.  As a result, he spent a good deal of his creative energy arranging this particular music for voice and various instruments, much of which is included in this collection.  He taught Bartow how to sing in the Russian style, which was evidently perfected by the cast members of La Chauve Souris.

Salama died in December 1952 and is buried in Vineland, New Jersey.  He was survived by both his wife and Virginia Bartow.  Nina Salama did not stay in the Salamovka area, but Bartow, who now owned the property, continued to summer there throughout the 1960s, where it remained a place for artists and musicians to congregate.  In 1969, the Salamovka site was bought by the National Park Service, and was used in the early 1970s for a kind of artists' school and colony.  The house still stands, but is now abandoned.

Bartow died in 1985.


These papers were donated in two accessions to the Balch Institute by Virginia Bartow's nephew, Charles Hardy, in 1991.  The collection was processed by Balch Field Archivist, Sandy VanDoren, in 1993.

The materials in the collection were conveyed to the Institute as a restricted gift, with the restrictions generally concerning the original music:

1)  The donor and his sister, Mary Utley, retain copyright to the materials during their lifetimes.

2)  No commercial use may be made of the materials in the collection without their express prior permission.  Commercial use is defined to include public performance, publication and sale of sheet music, and preparation and sale of recordings for profit and any other uses that may be deemed commercial.

3)  Researchers may quote limited portions of the music and other materials in the collection in scholarly papers and publications without prior permission.  Express prior permission is required to publish any musical piece or other work in its entirety, whether for scholarly or commercial use.  Donors will be informed of any scholarly publication from the collection.

4)  All rights reserved above shall vest in the Institute upon the deaths of the donors.

Photographs have been separated to Photo Group 309.  A poster for La Chauve Souris and an oil painting of Salama have been separated to the museum.


This collection spans the years 1903 to 1968, but concentrates on Salama's performing, teaching and writing career from 1932 to 1949 in Western Europe and New York.  There are unfortunately few records, such as correspondence, detailing his personal life, although the researcher can learn much about him from the two scrapbooks in the collection.  Neither is there much written here about Salamovka.  The accompanying photograph collection (Photo Group 309), however, does give one a good sense of what Salamovka looked like and who visited there.  Nevertheless, the focus of Salama's creativity was as a composer and arranger, and his prodigious musical output, contained in Series II, forms the bulk and center of the collection.


The collection has been divided into two series, personal papers and materials.

Series I, Personal Papers, contains the scrapbooks mentioned above, sketches, flyers, lists, notes, some correspondence and Salama's death certificate.  The arrangement, roughly chronological, is a little unusual, in that the first box consists of the original and Xeroxed pages of the collection's two scrapbooks.  That is because these scrapbooks reveal more about Salama than any of the other materials here: that he was obviously a sophisticated man, who spoke three languages (Russian, English and French) fluently and could read German and Italian, was well traveled, and had a great curiosity about politics, the entertainment world, religion and science.  The second scrapbook is devoted exclusively to his travels with La Chauve Souris to England and South Africa in 1932-34.  The remaining folders in this series deal with him as a performer and creator (i.e.: the folders of sketches) and teacher.  There is one folder about Salamovka.

Series II, Music Materials, is by far the larger series.  Subseries A, Original Compositions and Arrangements, consists of sheet music, scores, notations and notes, "blue prints" (reproductions of handwritten sheet music on tissuelike paper) and the master prints (some in white on black), 3" x 5" index cards, and a cassette tape.  This subseries contains certainly several hundred of Salama's works, which date from 1918 to approximately 1949.  There is no reason to suppose that he did not continue to compose and arrange after that.

Materials that could be dated in the roughest fashion are in boxes 2 and 3.  Most of the music in boxes 4, 5 and 6 is not easily dated, although Salama had organized much of it either by the Russian alphabet or by opus number.  His original arrangements have been maintained here, and seem to correspond to some of the index lists in the folder in box 6, or on the 3" x 5" cards in box 7.  The subseries ends with nine folders of "'blue prints," the indexes and the interview with Virginia Bartow on cassette tape.

Subseries B, Other Printed Material, consists of two folders of commercial sheet music and scores by other composers.

The box list of the register of the papers of Andrew Salama is four pages long.