Coolidge, Elizabeth (Penn) Sprague

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Coolidge, Elizabeth (Penn) Sprague

Coolidge, Elizabeth (Penn) Sprague , generous American music patronesss; b. Chicago, Oct. 30, 1864; d. Cambridge, Mass., Nov. 4, 1953. In 1918 she established the Berkshire Festivals of Chamber Music in Pittsfield, Mass., which were held annually under her auspices; she later sponsored the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., created in 1925 for the purpose of producing concerts and music festivals, awarding prizes, etc., under the administration of the Music Division of the Library. Numerous composers were commissioned to write music for it. The auditorium of the Library of Congress was likewise her gift. In 1932 she founded the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Medal “for eminent services to chamber music/’ awarded annually (until 1949). She also initiated performances of modern and classical chamber music throughout the U.S. and Europe. Her sponsorship of the appearances of artists in the U.S. and abroad (the Pro Arte, Coolidge, Roth quartets, etc.) was an important factor in the development of musical life in the U.S. In recognition of her many cultural contributions, she was made honorary M.A. (Yale Univ., Smith Coll., Mills Coll.), L.D. (Mt. Holyoke Coll.), Mus.Doc. (Pomona Coll.), and LL.D. (Univ. of Calif.). She also received the Cobbett Medal and various foreign decorations.


W. Bedford, E.S. C.: The Education of a Patron of Chamber Music: The Early Years (diss., Univ. of Mo., 1964); J. Rosenfeld, E.S. C.: A Tribute on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Her Birth (n.p., 1964); C. Barr, E.S. C.: American Patron of Music (N.Y., 1998).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Coolidge, Elizabeth (Penn) Sprague

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