Correspondence, notes, biography, music, newspaper clippings, musical programs, game
Lotta Van Buren, grandniece of President Martin Van Buren, was born as the next to youngest of ten children on November 20, 1877 in Boscobel, Wisconsin. She began her early education when her family moved to Spring Green. Lotta later attended the State Normal School at Madison and graduated in June of 1896. She then taught school for three years until she entered the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York where she studied piano, practicing five to six hours every day. She later studied with Harold Bauer, a great pianist, in New York, Paris, and Switzerland. Lotta also taught piano in New York City for many years until the concert stage became her primary focus as a pianist, clavichordist, and harpsichordist. Lotta performed in both the United States and Europe. Her work on the clavichord led to her restoration, research, and collection of antique musical instruments and her utilization of them in the originally intended way. Significant acquirements include Beethoven's piano from 1796 on which he composed numerous works and a bass viol owned by George Frederic Handel. Through her expert knowledge, Lotta helped restore relics of ancient music in the Metropolitan Museum, the Steinert Collection at Yale, the Joline Collection at Bernard College, the museum of Cooper Union, and the collection at Williamsburg, Virginia. In 1940 Lotta retired and moved to California where she married Henry Bizallion, a longtime friend and musician. In 1955 while living in Pacific Palisades, California, Lotta donated her collection of rare instruments, authentic Elizabethan costumes, books on old instruments, and music for the instruments to Brigham Young University because she had previously been impressed by Emma Lucy Gates Bowen, a famous Utah soprano who had frequently performed with Lotta. Lotta died at age 82 on May 23, 1960, and her husband Henry passed away shortly thereafter on September 4, 1960.
This collection includes four boxes, one of which contains a vast amount of correspondence during the years 1955 to 1960 between Brigham Young University and Henry Bizallion concerning Lotta's donation of rare instruments to BYU. Also included is correspondence pertaining to Henry's biography of Lotta, which is found in this collection along with research notes about Lotta's life. Additionally, the collection contains Lotta's typewritten and handwritten notes about numerous instruments as well as music for the instruments. There are numerous newspaper clippings that feature Lotta from the years 1912 to 1960 and musical programs from performances by Lotta, the Van Buren Players of Old Instruments, and Brigham Young University in their use of the Lotta Van Buren Collection. Finally, the Musical Checkers and Musical Dominoes game, which teaches children the musical staff and notation, is found in this collection. The game was patented by Lotta in 1917, and her friend Paderewski supported it as shown in two statements to Lotta about the game and a gift to her, a Polish white cross pin.