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COLLECTION Identifier: Ms. Coll. 107

Peggy Stuart Coolidge manuscript scores and other material, 1924-1981.


Manuscript scores and related materials of the American composer, pianist, and conductor Peggy Stuart Coolidge.


  • 1924-1981

Conditions Governing Access

Access to the collection is unrestricted.


1 collection (24 file boxes)

The collection primarily includes manuscript and printed scores, manuscript and printed parts, copies of scores. Also included are compositional sketches, notes on composition and performance.

Biographical / Historical

Peggy Stuart Coolidge. (b. Swampscott, MA, 19 July 1913; d. Cushing, ME, 7 May 1981). American pianist, composer, and conductor. She studied composition privately with Raymond Robinson, then head of Boston University's music department, and Quincy Porter of the New England Conservatory; she studied piano with Heinrich Gebhard. She began piano lessons at age 5 and wrote her first composition at age 9. Her first career ambition was to be a concert pianist; her earliest compositions were all for that instrument. In 1937 she composed the first known ballet music for ice skating , Cracked Ice, for the Boston Skating Club. It was later orchestrated by Ferde Grofé and was performed in Boston by the Boston Pops and in Madison Square Garden. A number of her compositions were premiered by the Boston Pops Orchestra under Arthur Fiedler including Night Froth, The Island, Smoke Drift, and Twilight City. In 1952 she married writer and editor Joseph R. Coolidge. They collaborated on a number of projects including a set of children's stories with accompanying music and songs. In 1963 she was invited to Vienna and Budapest for performances of her music; she was similarly invited to Moscow and Warsaw in 1965. Her music continued to be performed in Europe during her career. She also had a performance of her music in Tokyo when she visited there in 1967. While in Moscow the Coolidges met and established a friendship with composer Aram Khachaturian and his wife. Upon Khachaturian's recommendation she submitted some of her best compositions for consideration by the Union of Soviet Composers; upon return to Moscow in 1970 she discovered that all of her compositions had been accepted and a concert made up entirely of her music scheduled. She was the first American to be accorded this honor and, at the same time, she was awarded the medal of the Soviet Union of Workers in Art. In 1976 Vox Publications released a record album, titled American Reflections, composed entirely of Peggy Stuart Coolidge's symphonic works. She was the first American woman composer of symphonic music to be recognized in this way. Of the important commissions she received were those from the American Wind Symphony for her American Mosaic in 1978, and from the World Wildlife Fund for her The Blue Planet, a piece that was first performed at the International Congress of the World Wildlife Fund in Bonn in 1972 and later became the musical motto for the organization. She was involved with several film projects: she composed a film score for The Silken Affair (starring David Niven), incidental and song music for Red Roses for Me, and songs for a proposed pilot of a TV show.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Joseph R. Coolidge Estate, 2000

Related Materials

There is a related collection of non-commercial and commercial recordings of the works of Peggy Stuart Coolidge held in the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library. Requests for access to this recordings collection should be addressed to the Recordings Librarian of the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard University. There is a related collection of the composer's papers held in the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.

Processed by:

Sarah Adams

Peggy Stuart Coolidge manuscript scores and other material, 1924-1981.
Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library Repository

The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library is the primary repository of musical materials at Harvard. The Music Library’s collecting mission is to serve music teaching and research programs in the Music Department and throughout the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In addition, it supports the musical needs of the broader Harvard community as well as an international scholarly constituency. We collect books, musical scores, serial titles, sound recordings and video formats, microforms, and rare and archival materials that support research in a wide variety of musical disciplines including historical musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology, composition, and historically informed performance practice, as well as interdisciplinary areas related to music. The special collections include archival collections from the 19th, 20th and 21st century.

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