Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 23

Elizabeth (Penn) Sprague Coolidge

music foundation composers

Music patron, born in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The daughter of a wealthy wholesale grocer, she began studying piano at age 11, and started composing music in the 1890s. Following the deaths of her husband, father, and mother in 1915, she used her inheritance to sponsor the South Mountain (later Berkshire) Chamber Music Festival (1918–24), then established the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation at the Library of Congress (1925) to fund festivals, composers, and musicians. In the 1940s her foundation commissioned works by modern composers, including Aaron Copland, Sergei Prokofiev, and Igor Stravinsky, introducing them to American audiences through radio broadcasts and concerts.

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