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Thursday, June 25, 2009


Kodachrome film is about to be discontinued. But who invented it?

Kodachrome color film was invented by two musicians: Leopold Godowsky, Jr. (1900-1983) and Leopold Damrosch Mannes (1899-1964). The Patent Number that made them rich is 1,997,493.

Leopold Godowsky, Jr.
was an accomplished professional violinist who played first violinist with the both the Los Angeles and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras. His father, Leopold Godowsky, was one of the great pianists and composers of the early 20th century. Leopold Godowsky Jr. married Frances Gershwin. Frances, the kid sister of George and Ira, was a singer and fine musician in her own right.

Leopold Damrosch Mannes
was a pianist-composer (yep, that's not a typo, he was a composer!). He studied music at Juilliard and at Harvard under a Pulitzer Music Scholarship. In 1926 was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship to study music composition in Italy.

Mannes' father was concertmaster of the New York Symphony (which later morphed into the NY Philharmonic). It was conducted by Walter Damrosch. Leopold married the Maestro's pianist sister, Clara Damrosch (1870-1948), and together they concertized throughout the world as a violin and piano duo.

After Leopold Mannes retired from Kodak, he served as president of the Mannes College of Music, which had been founded by his parents in 1916. He continued to perform as a pianist and composed several musical works (which like Kodachrome film, are now lost to history). Mannes served as a judge for music competitions, including the inaugural Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

The Godowsky and Mannes Archives are currently held in the collection of Thurman F. Naylor, in Chestnut Hill, MA.

Now, that was a Kodak moment.

It begs another question, why is Leopold no longer a popular children's name?