== Biography from de la Vega's website
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.
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.
Six and a half years later, at the beginning of January, 1998, de la Vega (along with soprano Anne Marie Ketchum) were in Chicago, and we met for more conversation. Since he was with a singer, that is where we began . . . . .
At this point, the conversation shifted to Anne Marie Ketchum, and that interview can be read HERE.
© 1991 & 1998 Bruce Duffie
The first conversation was recorded on the telephone on May 21, 1991. The second was recorded in Chicago on January 17, 1998. Portions of each were broadcast on WNIB later in 1991, and again in 1995 and 2000; on WNUR in 2012 and 2015; and on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio in 2012. This transcription was made in 2020, and posted on this website at that time. My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here. To read my thoughts on editing these interviews for print, as well as a few other interesting observations, click here.
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Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.