Leyda, Jay, 1910-1988

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Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein created his first film, "Strike" in 1924. "The Battleship Potemkin" (1925) brought him to the attention of critics in the United States and England. "October of Ten Days that Shook the World" followed in 1928 and, the next year, "The General Line." Eisenstein came to America in 1930 to work for Paramount. He was assigned to direct "Sutter's Gold" and a film adaption of Theodore Dreiser's novel "An American Tragedy"; neither project was completed. In 1932, in collaboration with Upton Sinclair, Eisenstein went to Mexico City to begin filming "Que Viva Mexico." The picture generated much acrimony in the film world and was never completed. Eisenstein returned to Russia in 1932 where he began his next project, the pageant opera "Alexander Nevsky" (1938). In 1940 he worked on a project, "Love of a Poet" based on Pushkin's Boris Godunov. Between 1942 and 1946 Eisenstein completed parts I & II of his last film "Ivan the Terrible," starring Cherkasov. He was working on part III when he died of a heart attack in Moscow, February 19, 1948. Eisenstein is probably best known for his use of montage. His philosophy of films and film-making is revealed in published collections of his essays, especially "The Film Sense" (1942) and "Film Form" (1949).

From the description of Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein collection, 1900-1980. (Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)). WorldCat record id: 122407577

Jay Leyda (1910-1988) was a leading film historian, best known for his work on Soviet cinema and director Sergei Eisenstein, and on Chinese cinema. He was also a filmmaker, photographer, archivist, translator, professor of cinema studies at New York University, and was also noted for his Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville scholarship. His wife, Si Lan Chen Leyda (1909- ) was a modern dancer who pioneered the use of Chinese dance elements.

From the description of Jay and Si Lan Chen Leyda papers, 1913-1987 (bulk 1930-1980). (New York University). WorldCat record id: 477067174

Filmmaker, author; interviewee d. 1988.

From the description of Reminiscences of Jay Leyda : oral history, 1975. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122565463

Jay Leyda, author of works on American literature and world cinema.

From the description of Notes for The years and hours of Emily Dickinson, ca. 1955-1960. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702164041

Filmmaker, author; interviewee d.1988.

From the description of Reminiscences of Jay Leyda : oral history, 1980. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 309734292

Leyda was born Feb. 12, 1910 in Detroit; studied filmmaking at State Film Institute, Moscow, with Sergei Eisenstein in 1933; critic, filmmaker, author, editor, educator; translated Eisenstein's theoretical works on cinema; wrote/edited critical studies/biographies of Melville, Dickenson, Mussorgsky, and Rachmaninoff; lifelong film historian and teacher of cinema; during 1940s was technical advisor on Russian subjects for Hollywood; in 1960s and 70s taught at Yale and York Univ., Toronto; was at NYU from 1973 until his death on Feb. 15, 1988 of heart failure.

From the description of Papers, 1925-1956. (University of California, Los Angeles). WorldCat record id: 38000100

Biography

Leyda was born February 12, 1910 in Detroit; studied filmmaking at State Film Institute, Moscow, with Sergei Eisenstein in 1933; critic, filmmaker, author, editor, educator; translated Eisenstein's theoretical works on cinema; wrote/edited critical studies/biographies of Melville, Dickenson, Mussorgsky, and Rachmaninoff; lifelong film historian and teacher of cinema; during 1940s was technical advisor on Russian subjects for Hollywood; in 1960s and 70s taught at Yale and York University, Toronto; was at New York University from 1973 until his death on February 15, 1988 of heart failure.

From the guide to the Jay Leyda Papers, 1925-1956, (University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.)

Jay Leyda (1910-1988) was a leading film historian, best known for his work on Soviet cinema and director Sergei Eisenstein, and on Chinese cinema. He was also a film maker, photographer, archivist, translator, professor of cinema studies at New York University, and was also noted for his Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville scholarship. His wife, Si Lan Chen Leyda (1909- ) was a modern dancer who pioneered the use of Chinese dance elements.

Jay Leyda was born on February 12, 1910 in Detroit, Michigan, and was adopted and raised by his grandmother in Dayton, Ohio, after his mother's early divorce. In 1930 Jay moved to New York City to work for photographer Ralph Steiner. Leyda was published in Arts Weekly, exhibited at the Julien Levy gallery, worked for the Workers Film and Photo League, was a founding member of the Film Society and the Film Forum, and arranged music to be played during silent films. At this time he formed a liaison with the activist attorney Carol King and may have joined the Communist Party USA. In 1932 Leyda made his first film A Bronx Morning, which led to his September 1933 acceptance to the Moscow State Film School, where he studied directing with Sergei Eisenstein. Leyda became a correspondent for Theatre Arts Monthly and New Theatre, and using the pen name James Lincoln, was an art critic for the Moscow News . In 1934 Leyda married Si Lan Chen, whose sister Yolanda worked as a camera operator for Mosfilms. In 1934-35 Leyda worked for Eisenstein as photographer and archivist during the making of Bezhin Meadow.

In 1936 the Museum of Modern Art offered Leyda the position of Assistant Curator of Films, and he brought to New York a rare print of Potemkin and other films collected throughout Europe. Leyda expanded MOMA's film collection and wrote pamphlets on the history of film. A 1940 newspaper article alleged he was a subversive agent and his resignation was requested. In 1941 Eisenstein commissioned Leyda to translate and edit a group of essays which became The Film Sense (1942). Leyda moved to Hollywood in 1942 where he was a technical advisor on films on Russian subjects, including Mission to Moscow . At this time Leyda began his work on Herman Melville documents (planned as a birthday present for Eisenstein) which led to The Melville Log: a documentary life of Herman Melville (1951), as well as the Complete Stories of Melville (1949) and the Portable Melville (1952). In 1943 he was drafted into the Army but was discharged shortly thereafter. A translation project begun at this time was The Musorgsky Reader, a 1947 collaboration with Sergei Bertensson, with whom Leyda later co-authored Sergei Rachmaninoff: A Lifetime in Music, (1956). Highlights of Leyda's continuing work on Soviet cinema include Film Form: Essays in Film Theory (1949), his 1954 study film from the negative of Eisenstein's unfinished Que Viva Mexico, Kino, a History of the Russian and Soviet film (1960), and Eisenstein at Work (1980).

In 1954 Leyda left Los Angeles and for the next twenty years traveled widely, living abroad much of the time with London as a home base. From 1959-1964, Leyda spent much of his time in Peking at the China Film Archive, resulting in Dianying (Electric Shadows): an Account of Films and the Film Audience in China (1972). From 1964-1969, Leyda spent much of his time working at the Staatliches Filmarchiv in East Berlin in the German Democratic Republic, and in 1964 he published his Films Beget Films: a Study of the Compilation Film . Non-film undertakings included The Years and Hours of Emily Dickinson (1960), and the 1964 performance of the opera Bartelby the Scrivener, for which Leyda wrote the libretto. In 1973, after brief teaching jobs at Yale and York Universities, Leyda became professor of Cinema Studies at NYU. He published Voices of Film Experience: 1894-to the Present (1977), regularly visited the USSR and published several collections of Eisenstein materials, and continued to write, lecture, curate, and consult widely on film and other topics. Leyda died on February 15, 1988.

BIOGRAPHY: SI-LAN CHEN LEYDA

Si-Lan Chen was born in Trinidad and moved to London in 1912 where she studied dance at the Stedman Academy. In 1926 she joined her father, who had become secretary for Sun Yat-sen and Foreign Minister of the Canton government. In 1927, after Chiang Kai-shek took power, the family fled to Moscow. Chen enrolled in the Bolshoi Ballet School but disliked the discipline and switched to Vera Maya's school. She gave her first important recital in 1930 at the Moscow Conservatory. After adapting her style to reflect a proletarian ideology, she was proclaimed the first modern Soviet dancer. Throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s she toured the U.S., Mexico and the West Indies performing in benefits for China relief. In the mid-1940s Chen worked in Hollywood as a choreographer, dance instructor and occasionally appeared on film. Her career was complicated by her long struggle to obtain U.S. citizenship. Chen's biography, Footnote to History, was published in 1984.

JAY LEYDA: SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Books by Leyda

1951: The Melville log; a documentary life of Herman Melville, 1819-1891. New York: Harcourt, Brace. 1956: Sergei Rachmaninoff, a lifetime in music, by Sergei Bertensson and Jay Leyda. New York: New York University Press. 1960: Kino, a History of the Russian and Soviet film. New York: Macmillan. 1960: The years and hours of Emily Dickinson. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1964: Films Beget Films: a Study of the Compilation Film. New York: Hill and Wang. 1972: Dianying (Electric Shadows): an Account of Films and the Film audience in China. Cambridge: MIT Press. 1980: Eisenstein at Work. With Zina Voynow and the help of the Eisenstein Committee (Moscow). New York: Pantheon Books and the Museum of Modern Art, 1980.

II. Books edited and/or translated by Leyda

1942: Sergei Eisenstein. The Film Sense. Edited & translated by Leyda. New York: Harcourt Brace. 1947: The Musorgsky reader; a life of Modest Petrovich Musorgsky in letters and documents, edited and translated by Jay Leyda and Sergei Bertensson. New York: W. W. Norton. 1949: Sergei Eisenstein. Film Form: Essays in Film Theory. Edited & translated by Leyda. New York : Harcourt Brace. 1949: The complete stories of Herman Melville. New York: Random House 1952: The portable Melville. New York: Viking Press. 1964: Robert Flaherty. Edited by Leyda and Wolfgang Klaue. Berlin: Henschelverlag. Includes Leyda's essay, "Das Flaherty-Erbe," pp. 46-49. 1968: Sergei Eisenstein. Film Essays, with a Lecture. Edited & translated by Leyda. London: Dennis Dobson. Includes Leyda's "The Published Writings (1922-1964) of Sergei Eisenstein, with notes on their English translations," pp. 188-215. 1969: Vladimir Nizhny. Lessons with Eisenstein. Edited & translated by Leyda and Ivor Montagu. New York: Hill and Hang. 1974: Sergei Eisenstein. Three Films. Edited by Leyda, translated by Diana Matias. New York: Harper & Row. Annotated scripts of Battleship Potemkin, October, and Alexander Nevsky. 1977: Voices of Film Experience: 1894 to the Present. Edited by Leyda, research by Doug Tomlinson and John Hagan. New York: Macmillan.

Sources:

See also Jay Leyda: a life's work (1988), which includes a chronology and bibliography - a copy is in box one, in the first folder.

From the guide to the Jay and Si-Lan Chen Leyda Papers and Photographs, Bulk, 1930-1980, 1913-1987, bulk 1930-1980, (Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Erik Barnouw Papers, 1920-1990. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Barnouw, Erik, 1908-2001. Erik Barnouw papers, 1920-1990. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Leyda, Jay, 1910-1988. Reminiscences of Jay Leyda : oral history, 1980. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Leyda, Jay, 1910-1988. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, 1956. University of Pennsylvania Library
creatorOf Leyda, Jay, 1910-1988. Letter, 1948, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Jay Leyda Papers, 1925-1956 University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
referencedIn Olsen, Tillie. Holograph note to Jane Marcus, with associated photocopies, 1953-1997. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Leyda, Jay, 1910-1988. Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
referencedIn Emily Dickinson Collection, 1840-2005, 1850-1955 Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
creatorOf Leyda, Jay, 1910-1988. Jay and Si Lan Chen Leyda papers, 1913-1987 (bulk 1930-1980). Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Papers, 1912-1970 (inclusive), 1912-1954 (bulk). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Leyda, Jay, 1910-1988. [Correspondence received from composers in answer to a questionnaire concerning the composition of film music.]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Leyda, Jay, 1910-1988. Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein collection, 1900-1980. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
creatorOf Leyda, Jay, 1910-1988. Note by Jay Leyda [manuscript]. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Bruccoli, Matthew Joseph, 1931-. Papers, 1972-1973. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Bakeless, John, 1894-1978. Typescripts collection, ca. 1930s- New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Leyda, Jay, 1910-. Notes for The years and hours of Emily Dickinson, ca. 1955-1960. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Leyda, Jay, 1910-1988. Reminiscences of Jay Leyda : oral history, 1975. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Jay and Si-Lan Chen Leyda Papers and Photographs, Bulk, 1930-1980, 1913-1987, bulk 1930-1980 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
creatorOf Dickinson related materials collection, 1891-[ongoing]. Amherst College Library
creatorOf Leyda, Jay, 1910-1988. Papers, 1925-1956. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Weinberg, Herman G. Papers, 1926-1983. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Agee, James, 1909-1955. person
associatedWith Barnouw, Erik, 1908-2001. person
associatedWith Barr, Alfred Hamilton, 1902-1981. person
associatedWith Benjamin, Walter, 1892-1940. person
associatedWith Bowles, Paul, 1910-1999. person
associatedWith Bruccoli, Matthew Joseph, 1931- person
associatedWith Buñuel, Luis, 1900-1983. person
associatedWith Cartier-Bresson, Henri, 1908-2004. person
associatedWith Chen family family
associatedWith Chen family. family
associatedWith Copland, Aaron, 1900-1990. person
associatedWith Cornell, Joseph. person
associatedWith Curtiss, Mina Kirstein, 1896- person
associatedWith Davidson, Eugene, 1902- person
associatedWith Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886 person
associatedWith Dreiser, Theodore, 1871-1945 person
associatedWith Eisenstein, Sergei, 1898-1948. person
associatedWith Evans, Walker, 1903-1975. person
associatedWith Flaherty, Robert Joseph, 1884-1951. person
associatedWith Freeman, Joseph, 1897-1965. person
associatedWith Greene, Helga. person
associatedWith Harding, Bruce, person
associatedWith Hogenson, Barbara, person
associatedWith Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967. person
associatedWith Ivens, Joris, 1898-1989. person
associatedWith Jarrico, Paul. person
associatedWith Javitz, Romana, 1903-1980. person
associatedWith Kazan, Elia. person
associatedWith King, Carol. person
associatedWith Kirstein, Lincoln, 1907-1996. person
associatedWith Kleĭman, N. I. (Naum I.) person
correspondedWith Komisarjevsky, Theodore, 1882-1954 person
associatedWith Lang, Fritz, 1890-1976. person
associatedWith Levy, Julien. person
associatedWith Leyda family family
associatedWith Leyda, Si-lan Chen. person
associatedWith Losey, Joseph. person
associatedWith Lyda family. family
associatedWith Maltz, Albert, 1908-1985. person
associatedWith Man Ray, 1890-1976. person
associatedWith Melville family. family
associatedWith Melville, Herman, 1819-1891. person
associatedWith Montagu, Ivor Goldsmid Samuel, 1904- person
associatedWith Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Film Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Mussorgsky, Modest Petrovich, 1839-1881. person
correspondedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
associatedWith New York University. corporateBody
associatedWith Olsen, Tillie. person
associatedWith Rachmaninoff, Sergei, 1873-1943. person
associatedWith Rau, Jack. person
associatedWith Ray, Satyajit, 1921-1992. person
associatedWith Rockefeller, Abby Aldrich. person
associatedWith Rukeyser, Muriel, 1913-1980. person
associatedWith Sadoul, Georges, 1904-1967. person
associatedWith Schwarz, Josephine. person
associatedWith Seldes, Gilbert, 1893-1970. person
associatedWith Seton, Marie. person
associatedWith Steiner, Ralph, 1899-1986. person
associatedWith Strasberg, Lee. person
associatedWith Weinberg, Herman G. person
associatedWith Wilder, Thornton, 1897-1975. person
associatedWith Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Soviet Union
China
Soviet Union
Germany
Soviet Union
China
Subject
Motion pictures--China--History
Motion pictures--History--Sources
Musicians--Correspondence, reminiscences, etc
Communism and motion pictures--Soviet Union
Authors--Interviews
Motion pictures
Communism and motion pictures--China
Film historians
Educator--Interviews
Documentary films--History and criticism
Motion pictures--Editing
Motion picture producers and directors--Archives
Motion pictures--Musical accompaniment
Motion pictures--Instrumentation and composition
Autographs (Letters)--Collections
Documentary films
Motion picture producers and directors--Interviews
Motion pictures--Soviet Union--History
Biographers--Archival resources
Motion pictures--History
Occupation
Biographers--United States--Archival resources
Function

Person

Birth 1910-02-12

Death 1988-02-15

Americans

Chinese,

Russian,

English,

German

Information

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