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Armitage, Merle



  • Existence: 1893-1975


Merle Armitage (1893-1975) was born near Mason City, Iowa, on his father's cattle ranch/farm. Self-educated, he began his varied career as a civil engineer for the Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient railroad. He next worked as a designer of sets and costumes in the theatre world of New York City. From designing he moved on to become an impresario, managing the concert tours of many leading performers. His clients include such artists as: John McCormack, Mme. Schumann-Heink, Alice Nielson, Will Rogers, Martha Graham, and Igor Stravinsky. He co-founded the Los Angeles Grand Opera Association in 1924, and served as its general manager for eight seasons. From 1933 to 1939 he was manager of the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles. There he presented Leopold Stokowski in 1937, and George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in 1938.   Armitage was, at one time, president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts and art director of Quick and Look Magazine. He was a book designer and author, with over one hundred books to his credit. Many of the books he wrote and/or designed were concerned with the artists, composers, and performers with whom he was associated.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Merle Armitage Papers

Identifier: MsC0558

Set designer, impresario, co-founder and manager of the Los Angeles Grand Opera Association, president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, art director of Look and Quick magazines, and book designer. Correspondence, typescripts of Accent on Life and George Gershwin: Man and Legend, and files on other projects.

Dates: 1932-1965