Major Department



College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2021

Honors Major Advisor

Alyssa Park

Thesis Mentor

Elizabeth Oakes


The decades around the turn of the twentieth century presented a sudden growth in American musical life and more specifically, classical music. My thesis explores how this crucial and formative moment coincided with the rise of cultural philanthropy in the United States. As musical life was becoming institutionalized, individualist cultural philanthropists such as Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge created and supported these opportunities in innovative and unconventional ways. By examining the case study of Coolidge, this thesis explores how the institutionalization of classical music in twentieth-century America connects to new ideas about the role of patrons in artistic life and society in general. Her Berkshire Quartet and chamber music festivals, relationship with Carl Engel and the Library of Congress, utilization of the radio, and influence on academia provide insight into other methods of individualist patronage. Additionally, this thesis considers how this period saw other women engage in patronage and music sponsorship, further contributing to the institutions of American cultural and musical life.


Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, American Classical Music, Music Patronage, Cultural Philanthropy, Modernism, Chamber Music, Berkshire

Total Pages

29 pages


Copyright © 2021 Allen