Lebensdaten: San Francisco 1903 - 1995 New York
Zu Leben und Werk: Sidney Robertson Cowell - an ethnomusicologist, writer, Teacher and the widow of the composer Henry Cowell - In her extensive travels from 1937 to 1957, Mrs. Cowell recorded American, Finnish, Irish, Portuguese, Iranian and Turkish folk music, among other types. Her collection, housed in the Library of Congress, is among the most extensive ever gathered and includes some of the earliest documentation of ethnic music in the United States. It holds not only field recordings, but also correspondence, field notes, photographs, articles and other materials.
She was born in San Francisco in 1903 and received a bachelor of arts in philology and Romance languages from Stanford University in 1924. After graduating, she studied piano in Paris with the pianist and teacher Alfred Cortot.
In 1935-36, she directed the social music program at the Henry Street Settlement in New York City. The next year, she worked for the Resettlement Administration (renamed the Farm Security Administration) in Appalachia and the Ozarks, recording black American music in chain-gang road camps.
She met Cowell in 1927 as his piano student. They were married in 1941 and together they traveled as cultural ambassadors for the State Department, collecting music from around the world. After his death in 1965, she became one of the biggest champions of his music.
Mrs. Cowell was also a teacher and writer. She taught courses in American folk music at the University of Southern California, and was an author, with her husband, of "Charles Ives and His Music" (1955).
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