Name and location of repository
Level of description
Oral history interview with Ariel Rubstein
- 1984-12-17 - 1985-02-18 (Creation)
0.1 cubic feet; 3 audiocassettes (1 hr., 47 min., 30 sec.)
Name of creator
Ariel Alfred Rubstein, né Rubshteyn, was born in what is now Kiev, Ukraine, in 1899 or 1901. He and a sister, born two years apart, were registered as twins after his birth. Rubstein was never certain whether his birth year was 1899 or 1901, but used 1901 on official documents. As a child, he studied music at the Kiev Conservatory. In 1919, he left Kiev during the Russian Revolution. He traveled first to Constantinople, Turkey (now Istanbul), and applied for a visa to the United States. It was denied, and he spent the next several years traveling and playing music in Europe. Eventually, he received word that his visa had been approved, and he arrived in New York, New York, in 1922. He spent the next 14 years as a concert pianist and music instructor in New York. In 1936, he relocated to Portland, Oregon. The next year, he and Margaret Eleanor Reed were married; they later had three children. He was director of the Portland School of Music and helped to develop the Opera in the Park program. He founded the Portland Civic Opera and West Coast Opera Theater. In 1959, he founded Celebrity Attractions, which produced concerts, operas, and musicals in Portland. He died in 1997.
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Scope and content
This oral history interview with Ariel Rubstein was conducted by Oregon photographer Marian W. Kolisch in two sessions, on December 17, 1984, and February 18, 1985. The interview was part of a series conducted by Kolisch to accompany portraits of Oregon artists, businesspeople, and politicians.
In the first interview session, Rubstein discusses his family background and early life in Kiev, Russia, now Ukraine, including an explanation about the ambiguity surrounding his birthdate. He describes his music education at the Kiev Conservatory. He compares his memories of life in pre-revolution Russia to living conditions in Russia at the time of the interview. He shares his reasons for leaving Kiev in 1919 during the Russian Revolution, describes how he was able to escape Russia, and discusses his journey through Europe while awaiting approval of his visa to the United States, where he arrived in 1922. He shares his thoughts about higher education. He talks about his career as a musician and teacher in New York, New York, and talks about other Russian refugees. He shares his reasons for leaving the East Coast and settling in Portland, Oregon, in 1936.
In the second interview session, conducted on February 18, 1985, Rubstein discusses his career as a musician and instructor in Portland, Oregon. He talks about his marriage to Margaret Eleanor Reed, and about raising a family. He discusses his work as director of the Portland School of Music until its closure in 1959, and talks about how the school's opera department led to the Portland Opera. He speaks about running his business, Celebrity Attractions, Inc., which produced concerts, operas, and musicals in Portland; talks about promoting the shows to Oregonians; and discusses working with the musical artists the organization contracted with. He closes the interview by sharing his thoughts about appreciation of the arts among the American public in the 1980s.
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Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
Joint copyright for this interview is held by the Oregon Historical Society and the estate of Ariel Rubstein. Use is allowed according to the following statement: In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted, http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-NC/1.0/
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Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
The Marian Wood Kolisch collection, Org. Lot 1048, and an additional interview with Ariel Rubstein, SR 9340, are also held by the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Ariel Rubstein, by Marian W. Kolisch, SR 438, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
A handwritten index (10 pages) is available for in-person use at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Description control element
Rules or conventions
Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.