The “Berkshire Boys”

In 1916, Chicago Symphony Orchestra violinist Hugo Kortschak (1884–1957) appealed to Coolidge to subsidize his string quartet, which would allow the musicians to quit their orchestra jobs and devote themselves full-time to chamber music. She had long considered such an arrangement for her own musical ends: a string quartet to entertain guests and with whom she could perform chamber music in the privacy of her home. She agreed to provide financial support to the quartet on the condition that they relocate to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to be near her home. The Berkshire String Quartet—Coolidge’s “Berkshire Boys”—became the nucleus for her Berkshire Music Festivals. She built a summer colony for them, with a performance venue known as the Temple of Music, and established a composition award, the Berkshire Prize, for new chamber music works.

Hugo Kortschak to Elizabeth Coolidge May 10, 1916. Holograph letter. Page 2 - Page 3.Coolidge Foundation Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (009.00.00)

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“Helping the Cause of Good Music”

Elizabeth Coolidge to Hugo Kortschak, May 13, 1916. Typewritten letter. Page 2 - Page 3. Coolidge Foundation Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (010.00.00)

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The Berkshire String Quartet

The Berkshire String Quartet. Photograph, ca. 1916. Coolidge Foundation Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (011.00.00)

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