FRANCES COPTHORNE COLLECTION

SC2006/8/22

Ruth T. Watanabe Special Collections
Sibley Music Library

Processed by Mathew T. Colbert
Fall 2006

 

CONTENTS

 

DESCRIPTION OF COLLECTION

Accession no.: SC2006/8/22
Location: M2B 5,1
Physical extent: .25 linear feet

Biographical Sketch

Frances Copthorne (1894-1945) was a composer, vocalist and pianist who was very active in the musical life of Chicago, Illinois through the 1920s and early 1940s. While the details of her early musical training are unknown, it is documented that she received vocal training in her mid twenties from the renowned soprano of the Chicago Metropolitan Opera Company, Amelita Galli-Curci. During the 1920s, she directed most of her energies into composing and performing her own compositions, scored mostly for voice and piano, with the soprano Norma Boswell. During this time Frances Copthorne became an active member of the National League of American Pen Women, an organization comprised of women poets, authors and composers. Among the poets of this organization, Francesca Falk Miller was a regular collaborator. Frances Copthorne set several of Mrs. Miller’s poems to music; they also collaborated on two short comic operas. She began performing regularly on a weekly broadcast from a Chicago radio station in 1931. In 1934 she performed at the White House for Eleanor Roosevelt. She traveled to France in 1937 to study composition and counterpoint with Nadia Boulanger. Her performing career resumed upon returning to the United States in the early 1940s; however, during this time she began her battle with breast cancer. She died in 1945.

Provenance

The Frances Copthorne Collection was donated to the Sibley Music Library in 2006 with the expressed permission of Louise Copthorne Kirtland, the sole surviving child and heiress of American composer and pianist Frances Copthorne. The collection was transferred to the Sibley Music Library through the efforts of her nephew, Copthorne Macdonald.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of musical manuscripts and documents pertaining to the career of the American composer Frances Copthorne. The collection contains a published score, a facsimile of a published score, original manuscripts, facsimiles of original manuscripts, librettos, poetry, documents including: scrapbook leaves, programs, newspaper articles, concert and theatre reviews, letters, invitations, pamphlets, photographs, a booklet about Mrs. Copthorne written by Copthorne Macdonald for his granddaughter, and ephemera.

Restrictions

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection. Louise Copthorne Kirtland and Copthorne Macdonald have transferred all intellectual property rights to the Sibley Music Library.

Associations

The Frances Copthorne Collection is one of several within the Sibley Music Library that highlight the achievements of women in music. Others include the Women Composers Collection, a collection of individual works by a large number of women composers, and the personal collection of Met Opera performer and Eastman School of Music faculty member Josephine Antoine. In addition, the Sibley Music Library holds the performing libraries of such distinguished performers as mezzo-soprano Jan De Gaetani and harpist Artiss De Volt.

 

DESCRIPTION OF SERIES

Series 1: Scores and Manuscripts

This series contains one published score of incidental music for a children’s play, a facsimile of a published score, manuscripts and manuscript reproductions of works by Frances Copthorne. The works are arranged in alphabetical order. The majority of the music is scored for voice and piano.

Series 2: Librettos and Poetry

This series contains two librettos written by Francesca Falk Miller, Mrs. Copthorne’s friend and frequent creative collaborator, as well as poems that Copthorne may have considered setting to music. The titles are arranged in alphabetical order.

Series 3: Documents

This series contains documents from the 1920s through 1939. The documents are collated by decade. Included are: concert programs featuring performances of Frances Copthorne’s works, newspaper articles, letters, invitations and photographs. Some of these items are glued to scrapbook leaves. Of special interest are pamphlets for the Baltimore Mail Line steamship company acquired during Ms. Copthorne’s ocean voyage to France, where she studied composition with Nadia Boulanger.

Series 4: Ephemera

This series contains two of Mrs. Copthorne’s name badges for events held by the National League of American Pen Women.

 

INVENTORY

Series 1: Scores and Manuscripts

folder 1 “Butterflies” No.4 from Meet the Professor. For baritone and piano. Words by Francesca Falk Miller. MS. Repro. 2 pages of music.
folder 2 The Emperor’s New Clothes. Incidental Music for A Play For Children. Words by Charlotte Chorpenning. New York: Samuel French, Inc. 1935. 5 pages of music.
folder 3 From Psalm 136. For voice and piano. Pencil MS. 2 pages of music.
folder 4 Lady Night. For voice and piano. Words by Francesca Falk Miller. Music believed to have been composed by Frances Copthorne under the pseudonym “Louise Fritz”. Ink MS. 3 pages of music.
folder 5 The Lost Waltz. For voice and piano. Ink MS. Accompanied by a typescript of the lyrics by Francesca Miller. 1 page of music.
folder 6 Mazurka. For piano. MS repro. 4 pages of music.
folder 7 Mischief Moon. For voice and piano. Words by Caroline Thomas. Ink MS. 2 pages of music.
folder 8 Mohammedan Love Song. For voice and piano. Words by Goodrich (first name unknown). Pencil MS with text in ink. 4 pages of music.
folder 9 On My Last Day. For voice, violin, cello and piano. Words by Francesca Falk Miller. MS repro. 7 pages of music.
folder 10 A Roman Holiday. For voice and piano. Words by Viva Karman (sp?). Pencil MS. 2 pages of music.
folder 11 The Squeaky Swing. For voice and piano. Words by Elsie Fowler. Ink MS. 2 pages of music.
folder 12 Tattered Tree Ladies. For voice and violin with piano accompaniment. Words by Pauline Hansberger (sp?). Ink MS. Accompanied by separate violin part. 4 pages of music.
folder 13 When Night Comes On. For voice and piano. Words by Elsie Fowler. MS repro. 3 pages of music.
folder 14 Your Voice. Song for high voice and piano. Words by Francesca Miller. Repro of published score; inscribed by F. Copthorne. Chicago: H.T. Fitzsimons Company, 1931. 2 pages of music.

Series 2: Librettos and Poetry

folder 15 Libretto for Meet the Professor. Words by Francesca Miller. Typewritten script. 24 pages.
folder 16 Libretto for A Romantic Rose. Words by Francesca Falk Miller. Typewritten script and cover sheet for the score are all that are extant. Cover sheet indicates that an overture and 15 musical numbersonce existed. 32 pages.
folder 17 Velvet Shoes. MS repro of text by Eleanor Wylie. The estate indicates that this poem was set to music for voice and piano, however a facsimile of the text is all that is extant. 1 page.
folder 18 Miscellaneous poems. Poems that Frances Copthorne may have considered setting to music. Enchanted Isle, Pencil MS with sketch of a vocal melody; Incident by Jessica West; A Soft Little Song by Francesca Miller; Ye Snootye Dame by R.M. Pressey. 4 pages.

Series 3: Documents

folder 19 Documents, 1920s. Recital programs; concert reviews; newspaper articles.
folder 20 Documents, 1930. Recital programs; concert reviews; newspaper articles.
folder 21 Documents, 1931. Recital programs; newspaper articles; letters.
folder 22 Documents, 1932. Recital programs; newspaper articles.
folder 23 Documents, 1933. Recital program; newspaper articles; invitation to a musicale hosted by the National League of American Pen Women.
folder 24 Documents, 1934. Recital programs; N.L.A.P.W. convention program; newspaper articles; invitations.
folder 25 Documents, 1935- 39. Newspaper articles; 2 Baltimore Mail Line pamphlets.
folder 26 About Frances Copthorne. A booklet compiled by Copthorne Macdonald. 13 pages.
folder 27 Photographs. Six photographs that include: –One 2 ½ x 3 ½ in. photo of Frances Copthorne in France, March 23, 1938. Reverse side is annotated in ink. –A photo of F. Copthorne, apparently made / processed in her home town of Evanston, IL. –A repro of a portrait of F. Copthorne, done in pastel colors. –3 scanned reproductions of photographs of Frances Copthorne at various ages.
folder 28 A note to Frances Copthorne from Nadia Boulanger. Postmarked December 15, 1937. Ink MS. 1 page.

Series 4: Ephemera

folder 29 Two name badges from National League of American Pen Women events attended by Frances Copthorne in 1933 and 1934.