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COLLECTION Identifier: AWM Spec Coll 94

James Rubin Collection of Indian Classical Music


Sound recordings made in India and America between 1957 and 1989. The collection consists mostly of Carnatic music with some programs of Hindustani music. These are primarily live concert recordings with a few programs recorded from All India Radio. Most of the recordings were made during the annual concert season in Chennai in December. Several were also made at the Tyāgarāja Arādhana Festival that takes place each January in the town of Tiruvayāṟu. The collection also includes copies of commercial recordings of both Indian and non-Indian music as well as a few miscellaneous recordings. The documentation consists of 32 small handwritten notebooks and 15 program books printed by the Music Academy. The collection also includes 431 78 RPM records of Indian and Middle Eastern music as well as several books about Indian music.


  • Creation: 1957-1989

Conditions Governing Access

Access to streaming for some of this collection is restricted. Contact Music Library Staff for assistance with restricted materials (those without streaming links).


1 collection (Sound recordings: 53 linear feet (983 sound tape reels, analog, various sizes) ; 4.75 linear feet (431 sound discs, analog, 78 rpm). Accompanying materials: 4 linear feet.)

The collection represents James Rubin's recordings of Indian music in India and America from 1957 through 1989. It consists of over one thousand reels of audio tape and accompanying documentation. About 400 of the tapes were recorded in India and 100 in the United States. The remaining tapes contain edited copies of other recordings in the collection, copies of commercial recordings, tapes recorded by other people and given to James Rubin, and live recordings of miscellaneous events in the Boston area. The documentation consists of several small notebooks containing notes written in India by James Rubin and his assistants. These contain performance details including the date, time, and place of each performance; the performers' names; and the title, composer, raga and tala of each composition. These hand-written notes are supplemented by program books published by the Music Academy and broadcast listings published by All India Radio. Details of performances recorded in the United States are either written on the tape boxes themselves or are included as annotated program notes inside the boxes. The title of each composition is transliterated from the original language according to the system used by the Library of Congress. The names of the Carnatic ragas are rendered according to Walter Kaufmann's The Ragas of South India. Kaufmann' s The Ragas of North India is followed for Hindustani ragas when possible. Ragas not found in Kaufmann follow Patrick Moutal's Hindustāni Rāga-s Index. Names of performers use the forms found in the OCLC authority file whenever possible. When no authorized form exists the name is transliterated from its Sanskrit form or from Tamil or Urdu when appropriate.

Historical Note

James Rubin was an enthusiastic collector and promoter of Indian music even though he had no formal training. He was the founder and executive director of the Pan Orient Arts Foundation, an organization that helped organize concerts by Indian artists in the United States. He was born in Boston in 1927; he graduated from Brookline High School in 1943 and Brown University in 1948. During World War II he served in the Army Air Corps. He was the vice president of the First Hartford Realty Company of Manchester, CT for 35 years until he retired in 1989. He died of leukemia on March 17, 1991 at the age of 64. The earliest recording in his collection is a performance by sitarist Ravi Shankar made at Rubin's Newtonville, MA home in March 1957; his last recording was made in Madras in December 1987. In the interval he traveled to India twenty times to attend the annual music festival in Madras and make recordings. He is still fondly remembered by musicians in Madras as 'Rubin Mama' (Uncle Rubin) for wearing Indian dress, his love of music, and his avuncular manner. He was a close associate of the famous singer M.S. Subbulakshmi and recorded many of her concerts. He arranged her nationwide tour of the United States that culminated in her famous performance at the United Nations

Physical Location

Archive of World Music

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was given to the Archive of World Music at the bequest of James Rubin in 1991.

Processed by:

John A. Loud with assistance by Carolann Buff, Sarah Adams, Brian D. Hoffman, Josh Packard and Vagheesh Narasimhan

Processing Information

There are several instances of the title "Mrs." in this collection where no other information was provided about the subject. Therefore, the title was retained to provide the most information we have about the identity of the individuals. The archive recognizes that the term is reductive and outdated. It is our hope to someday discover the relevant idenifying name conventions surrounding the indviduals referenced.

Rubin, James. Collection of Indian classical music, 1957-1989: Guide
Archive of World Music, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library Repository

The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library is the primary repository of musical materials at Harvard. The Music Library’s collecting mission is to serve music teaching and research programs in the Music Department and throughout the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In addition, it supports the musical needs of the broader Harvard community as well as an international scholarly constituency. We collect books, musical scores, serial titles, sound recordings and video formats, microforms, and rare and archival materials that support research in a wide variety of musical disciplines including historical musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology, composition, and historically informed performance practice, as well as interdisciplinary areas related to music. The special collections include archival collections from the 19th, 20th and 21st century.

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