Finding Aid for the Elizabeth Cowling Collection, 1937-1987

Contact Information
Special Collections and Rare Books
Jackson Library, UNCG
P.O. Box 26170
Greensboro, NC 27402-6170
Phone: 336-334-5246

Descriptive Summary


Elizabeth Cowling, 1910-1997


Elizabeth Cowling Collection, 1937-1987


1.5 linear feet (2.5 boxes)


The collection consists of more than 1‚000 publications and copies of manuscript music, including significant holdings of "teaching composers" such as Bazelaire, Breval, Dotzauer, Goltermann, Klengel, Marcello, Piatti, Popper, Squire and Stutschewsky. The collection also features a large number of copies of manuscripts of 17th to 19th century Italian composers, collected in preparation for Dr. Cowling's 1967 dissertation, "The Italian Sonata Literature for the Violoncello in the Baroque Era".

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Elizabeth Cowling Collection, Special Collections and Rare Books, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Acquisitions Information

Gift of Dr. Elizabeth Cowling, 1977. Some materials added 1996.

Processing Information

Processed by Special Collections Staff

Biographical/Historical Note

Elizabeth Cowling was born in Northfield, Minnesota in 1910. She attended Carleton College in Minnesota where her father was President. She received her B.A. degree in Philosophy and went on to Columbia University in New York, where she received her M.A. degree in Economics. Her Master's and Ph.D. in Music were earned from Northwestern University.

Dr. Cowling traveled and studied in Europe, starting in Paris in 1929 where she worked with Paul Bazelaire. She also studied with Mischa Schneider (Budapest String Quartet) and in 1950 she was a student of Pablo Casals for a brief period. Dr. Cowling came to the Woman's College (now UNCG) in 1945. In 1946 she began what was to become a long association with Luigi Silva at the Eastman School of Music. Their association grew from that of student-teacher to a collaborative working relationship which lasted until Silva's death in 1961. Like Silva, Dr. Cowling dedicated herself to students and teaching. Performance and research were also significant aspects of her career.

It was due to Dr. Cowling's efforts that UNCG acquired the Silva Cello Music Library and Silva's papers in 1963. Dr. Cowling's researches into the literature and history of the cello led to the publication of her well-received work, The Cello, in 1975 (London, Batsford and New York, Scribner's). This work was translated into Japanese and a revised English language edition was also published.

Dr. Cowling retired from teaching at UNCG in 1976, after a career dedicated to teaching, research and performance. She died in 1997.

Collection Arrangement

Materials in the collection are arranged by subject, beginning with correspondence. Letters between Cowling and Luigi Silva were originally separated and restricted until 5 years after Cowling's death. The restriction was lifted in 2002.

Detailed Description of Collection

Box 1
Correspondence A-Z
Correspondence with JŠnos Scholz, 1966-1987
Correspondence with Alexander Broude, 1976-1980
Correspondence with Batsford re: publication of The Cello, 1969-1983
Correspondence with Roy Silva, 1980-1981
Letters from Dimitry Markevitch (with attachments), 1984
Concert Programs

Box 2
Teaching Notes and Other Writings
The Development of the Symphony
Cello Pedagogy
JŠnos Scholz - File on Honorary Doctorate
Photographs of Other Musicians
Programs and Information re: Other Musicians
The Strad, v. 64, no. 760, August 1953 and Supplements Sept. 1937-Aug. 1938)

Box 3
Letters from Luigi Silva, 1947-1961

Online Catalog Headings

Cowling, Elizabeth, 1910-1997.
Silva, Luigi, 1903-1961.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro. School of Music.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Collegium Musicum.
Violoncello music.
Violoncello--Instruction and study.
Violoncello--Studies and exercises.
Violoncellists--United States.