Library of Congress Geography and Maps: An
Illustrated Guide
Previous Table of Contents Next

Foundations for Music

Two extraordinary American women, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge and Gertrude Clarke Whittall, by their generosity toward the Library of Congress Music Division, had a profound influence on the history of music in the United States and laid the cornerstone for all subsequent musical philanthropy in the Library. They were born within three years of one another, and their support of music in the Library overlapped for several decades, beginning in the 1930s. Although their devotion to music was equal, they expressed that devotion in divergent but complementary ways, Mrs. Coolidge focusing largely on the new, Mrs. Whittall on the classic tradition exemplified by the repertory of the string quartet.

Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (1864-1953), one of the most notable patrons in the history of American music, seized an opportunity in 1924 to expand the vision and mission of the Library of Congress through underwriting concerts, commissioning new music, and encouraging musicological scholarship. Having already won international prominence by sponsoring chamber music festivals in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and for commissioning and inspiring compositions by eminent contemporary composers in the United States and abroad, she sought to establish a permanent base for these activities as well as a permanent musical influence.

Thumbnail image of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. (Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Collection)

In 1925 the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation was established in the Library for the promotion and advancement of chamber music through commissions, public concerts, and festivals. Mrs. Coolidge's ultimate aim, as stated in a letter dated February 4, 1925, to the Librarian of Congress, Herbert Putnam, was profound as well as prescient:

to make possible, through the Library of Congress, the composition and performance of music in ways which might otherwise be considered too unique or too expensive to be ordinarily undertaken. Not this alone, of course, nor with a view to extravagance for its own sake; but as an occasional possibility of giving precedence to considerations of quality over those of quantity; to artistic rather than to economic values; and to opportunity over expediency.

The Library of Congress Trust Fund Board, the first of its kind in the federal government, was established in 1925 to administer the funds of the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation and all future endowments. With an additional gift, also in 1925, Mrs. Coolidge financed the construction of the 511-seat Coolidge Auditorium in the northwest courtyard of the Jefferson Building. Designed according to her preference for "severe and chaste beauty" rather than "ornate display," the Coolidge Auditorium was completed just in time for the first Coolidge Festival, which successfully inaugurated the new hall on October 28, 1925. This structure has become world famous for its magnificent acoustical properties, for the caliber of the artists and ensembles who have played there, for newly commissioned works premiered, and for the individually scheduled concerts interspersed among concert series, retrospectives, and festivals.

Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge's legacy lies not only in the Foundation, auditorium, and concerts, but also in the collections she presented to the Library of original manuscripts and papers that she had received through her philanthropic activities. As a result of the Coolidge commissions executed by eminent composers, a steady stream of notable holographs has reached the Library through the years; many composers maintained a special relationship with the Library and continued to make generous donations of their own manuscripts.

Following the standards set by Mrs. Coolidge's generosity, Gertrude Clarke Whittall (1867-1965), another great philanthropist, presented to the Library in 1935-1936 five incomparable Stradivari instruments, as well as a Tourte bow for each instrument. (See The Collections of Musical Instruments for details on these instruments.) In February 1936, the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Foundation was established at the Library to maintain the Stradivari instruments and to support their use in concerts. For several years, guest string quartets played on the instruments for one or more concerts until the Library settled on the idea of a resident ensemble: the Budapest String Quartet was the Library's resident quartet from 1940-1962, and from 1962 to the present, the Juilliard String Quartet.

Thumbnail image of Gertrude Clarke Whittall Gertrude Clarke Whittall. Painted miniature by Laura Hills. (Gertrude Clarke Whittall Foundation Collection)

Continuing her generosity to the Library, in 1938 Mrs. Whittall provided funds for the construction of the Whittall Pavilion, a drawing room intended as a "beautiful sanctuary of the precious Stradivari," adjoining the foyer of the Coolidge Auditorium. To complete her gift and to enhance the value of the Stradivari, Mrs. Whittall also presented to the Library a remarkable assemblage of original manuscripts by composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Schoenberg.

Since 1925, when the Coolidge Foundation was established, additional foundations have been created through gift or bequest, permitting the Library to extend significantly its influence in the musical world. Throughout the years, the generosity of donors has enabled the Library to render exceptional service to the public and the world of music through performances, commissions, acquisitions, broadcasts, recordings, exhibits, lectures, and publications, as well as other related activities.

Thumbnail image of Johann Sebastin Bach Johann Sebastin Bach. Festo visitationis Mariae: Meine Seel erhebt den Herren (1724) (Feast of the Visitation of Mary: My Soul doth magnify the Lord) (BMV 10/BC A175). Autograph full orchestral-vocal score. Meine Seel is the fifth in Bach's second cycle of cantatas for the church year which began on the First Sunday after Trinity, June 11, 1724. This manuscript is a "composing score," that is, it contains numerous corrections, rejected passages, and, on occasion, marginal sketches of a tentative nature. The text is taken directly, and in paraphrase, from Luke I, 46-55.(Gertrude Clarke Whittall Foundation Collection)

Among the Library's music foundations that perpetuate the art and scholarship of music are:

The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress, inaugurated in 1949, is allied with the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Inc., established earlier--in 1942--by the eminent Russian conductor, Serge Koussevitzky. Dedicated to the development of creative musical talent, the Foundation has commissioned over 250 composers and seeks to encourage the dissemination of their scores by performance and other means. Original manuscripts of the works commissioned by the two Foundations are placed in the Serge Koussevitzky Foundation Collection in the Library.

Established in 1968 by Katie Louchheim, onetime Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, and her husband, an investment banker and presidential advisor, the Katie and Walter Louchheim Fund provides support especially for broadcasting the Library's chamber music concerts.

The McKim Fund (Leonora Jackson and W. Duncan McKim) was created in 1970 through a bequest of Mrs. W. Duncan McKim, a concert violinist, who won international prominence under her maiden name, Leonora Jackson. W. Duncan McKim was a distinguished authority in the fields of medicine and philosophy as well as an organist. Income from this endowment is used for the creation and appreciation of music for violin and piano.

Thumbnail image of Leonora Jackson McKim Leonora Jackson McKim. (Leonora Jackson McKim Collection)

The Da Capo Fund, begun by an anonymous donor in 1978, supports concerts, lectures, publications, seminars, and other activities which parallel and enrich scholarly research in music using items from the collections of the Music Division of unique artistic or human appeal.

The Mae and Irving Jurow Fund was founded in 1980 by Mae Jurow, professional artist, and Irving Jurow, eminent lawyer, vice-president and general counsel of a pharmaceutical company, to support chamber music concerts in which the harpsichord is the featured instrument. New music for harpsichord is also a part of the Fund's purposes.

The Boris and Sonya Kroyt Memorial Fund was established in 1980 by Yanna Kroyt Brandt and Nathan Brandt in memory of her mother, Sonya, and father, Boris Kroyt, the illustrious violist of the famous Budapest String Quartet, to present concerts each year featuring the talents of gifted but not yet widely known musicians and to support concert broadcasts and recordings.

The William and Adeline Croft Memorial Fund began in 1990 to enhance the chamber music series, to enlarge the audience for chamber music through broadcasting, to enrich the Library's collections of musical rarities, and to produce and distribute recordings. Like so many of the Library's benefactors, William Croft, a renowned lawyer, and Adeline Ritschel Croft, a noted pianist and teacher, were devoted followers of the Library's concerts and regular, enthusiastic members of the audience.

The Rose Marie and Harold Spivacke Fund was created in 1982 by Rose Marie Spivacke, in memory of her husband Harold Spivacke--musicologist, music librarian, and a distinguished former chief of the Music Division from 1937-1972--to acquire books, manuscripts, and other materials for the collections of the Library.

The Kindler Foundation Trust Fund was established in 1983 by the Kindler Foundation (incorporated in 1952) to offer concerts and to commission new chamber music in memory of Hans Kindler (1892-1949), Dutch-American cellist, conductor, and founder of the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, D.C.

The Isenbergh Clarinet Fund was initiated in 1985 by Max Isenbergh, prominent attorney, law professor, and accomplished amateur clarinet player in memory of his sister, Charlotte Isenbergh Kessler, primarily to support public concerts featuring the clarinet.

Thumbnail image of Sergei Prokofiev Sergei Prokofiev. String Quartet, Op. 50. Full autograph score. Prokofiev wrote in his "short" autobiography of 1941: "Before starting work on the quartet [in 1930], I studied Beethoven's quartets, chiefly in railway carriages on my way from one concert to another. In this way, I came to understand and greatly admire his quartet technique. Perhaps this explains the somewhat `classical' idiom of the first movement of my quartet ... The first performance of the quartet took place in Washington on 23 April 1931. Besides this, the Roth Quartet was sent to Europe with a programme of music written for the Library of Congress, and, on 9 October 1931, played my quartet for the first time in Moscow." (Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation Collection)

The Moldenhauer Archives Foundation at the Library of Congress was established in 1988 by the bequest of Hans Moldenhauer (1906-1987), pianist, teacher, author, and founder of the Moldenhauer Archives for the study of music history from primary sources located in the Library of Congress and nine sister institutions throughout the world. The funds from this Foundation are used to augment the Moldenhauer Archives at the Library, to publish books and facsimiles based on the Archives, and to commission new musical compositions based on materials in these Archives.

Thumbnail image of Béla
Bartók Concerto 
for Orchestra. Béla Bartók Concerto for Orchestra. List of timings, and first page of the autograph full orchestral score. Completed in 1943, and later revised in 1945, the Concerto was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation. It was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Koussevitzky on December 1, 1944. The Concerto is one of the early commissions by the Foundation; part of a series of distinguished works from twentieth-century composers. (Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation Collection) (London, New York, Boosey & Hawkes, 1946)

The Moldenhauer bequest, further supplemented with major manuscripts acquired in 1988 from Mary Moldenhauer, his widow, is the greatest composite gift of music materials ever to be received by the Library. It consists of autograph music manuscripts, letters, and documents spanning the history of musical creativity from the twelfth century to modern times.

The Rose and Monroe Vincent Fund was established in 1990 by Monroe Vincent, noted scientist, author, and amateur violist. The fund assists in offering concerts at the Library, supports the Library's endeavors to bring these concerts to a wider audience through broadcasting, recordings, related publications, and other communications media as may be developed in the future.

Through her testamentary bequest, the Gershwin Fund was established by Leonore S. Gershwin in 1992 to perpetuate the name and works of Ira Gershwin (1896-1983), librettist and lyricist, and George Gershwin (1898-1937), American composer, pianist, and conductor, and to provide support for worthy related music and literary projects. Mrs. Gershwin, widow of Ira Gershwin, was among the strongest supporters of the Library for many years. She purchased important manuscripts, papers, and letters for the Gershwin Collection, sponsored gala concerts of music by the Gershwins, and established a collaboration with the Library through the Leonore Gershwin/Library of Congress Recording and Publication Project, which is producing authoritative recordings and editions of the Gershwins' music.

The Anne Adlum Hull and William Remsen Strickland Fund was created in 1992 by William Remsen Strickland, noted American conductor and recipient of numerous awards, for the promotion and advancement of American music, through lectures, publications, commissions, concerts of chamber music and radio broadcasts, and recordings.

The Carolyn Royall Just Fund dates from 1992, and was initiated through a bequest of Carolyn Royall Just, a distinguished attorney in Washington, D.C., who also performed with the George Washington University Symphony and with the Shoestring Orchestra, for performing or broadcasting concerts of classical chamber music.

The Library's widely acknowledged leadership in creating, performing, and collecting music for the benefit of the nation has been linked for decades to the generosity and wisdom of benefactors. These philanthropists continue to sustain the artistic values that music holds, and help assure the future of all musical art.

Previous Table of Contents Next

Performing Arts Reading Room

Library of Congress Home Page

Library of Congress
Legal | External Link Disclaimer
Library of Congress Help Desk ( November 15, 2010 )