Guide to the Mildred Couper papers, 1897-1974

Processed by David Seubert and Jeff Gordon; Student Assistants: James Maiello;
Department of Special Collections
Davidson Library
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Phone: (805) 893-3062
Fax: (805) 893-5749
Email: special@library.ucsb.edu
URL: http://www.library.ucsb.edu/speccoll/speccoll.html
© 24 February 2003
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Mildred Couper papers, 1897-1974

Collection number: PA Mss 45

Department of Special Collections



Davidson Library

University of California, Santa Barbara

Contact Information:

  • Department of Special Collections
  • Davidson Library
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Santa Barbara, CA 93106
  • Phone: (805) 893-3062
  • Fax: (805) 893-5749
  • Email: special@library.ucsb.edu
  • URL: http://www.library.ucsb.edu/speccoll/speccoll.html
Processors:
David Seubert, Jeff Gordon
Student Assistants:
James Maiello
Date Completed:
28 February 2003
Encoded by:
David Seubert
© 2003 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Mildred Couper Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1897-1974
Collection number: PA Mss 45
Creator: Mildred Couper, 1887-1974.
Extent: 7.5 l.f. (14 boxes) 27 disc recordings
Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Abstract: Papers of Santa Barbara-based composer Mildred Couper an early proponent of quarter-tone music. The collection includes musical scores, photographs, newspaper clippings, correspondence (including correspondence with her Husband Richard Couper and grandfather Thomas Ball), personal writings, financial documents, concert programs, recordings and other documents.
Physical location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

None.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

Preferred Citation

Mildred Couper papers, PA Mss 45, Department of Special Collections, University Libraries, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Acquisition Information

Donated in 2002 by Greta Couper and Lisa Merryman (PA2002-012) and in 2003 by Richard Nordli (PA2003-003).

Biography

Mildred Couper was born in 1887 in Buenos Aires to British parents. She began her formal musical training at the age of 13 as a pianist at the Williams Conservatory in Buenos Aires. Couper graduated from the Karlsruhe Conservatory in Baden, Germany in 1907. She also studied with piano with Moszkowski, Sgambati, and Alfred Cortot in Paris, Rome, and New York, respectively. Couper studied art in Paris at the Grand Chaumiere and at another private art school run by Beronneau, where she met her husband, artist Richard. The couple was married in 1910 and lived in Rome until 1915, when World War I brought them to New York. Mr. Couper died there of influenza in 1917. Mrs. Couper taught piano at the Mannes School of Music.
In 1927, Mrs. Couper moved, with her children Clive and Rosalind, to Santa Barbara, California. She began teaching at the Cate School and the Santa Barbara School for Girls, as well as maintaining her own private piano studio. Couper was also influential in founding the Music Academy of the West, where she taught theory and harmony courses. In addition, she remained active as a solo and chamber pianist and served as a critic for the Santa Barbara News-Press for 16 years.
As a composer, Mildred Couper is best known for her experiments with quarter-tone music. Her quarter-tone music was first heard in Xanadu, incidental music for the Santa Barbara performances of Eugene O'Neill's play Marco Millions. Other quarter-tone works by Couper include Rumba, Dirge, and Anacapa. Couper's orchestral arrangement of her Variations on "The Irish Washerwoman" was performed by the Werner Janssen Symphony. Ingolf Dahl also conducted some of her works at the "Evenings on the Roof" concerts in Los Angeles. Couper's ouvre includes chamber works, piano duets, solo piano pieces, vocal works, and several orchestral works.
She died in Santa Barbara in 1974.

Collection Scope and Content Summary

The Mildred Couper Papers are divided into six series: Series I, Scores; Series II, Photographs; Series III, Newspaper Clippings; Series IV, Correspondence; Series V, Miscellany; Series VI, Sound Recordings.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

Subjects

Composers--Archives.
Women composers.
Microtonal music.

Genres and Forms of Material

Scores.
Sound recordings.
Photographs.

Index Terms Related to this Collection

Ball, Thomas, 1819-1911.
Couper, Richard.


Collection Contents

 

Scores

Scope and Content Note

Series I, Scores contains manuscript, vellum, and photoreproduced scores and parts to many of Couper's works from her personal collection. Sketches have also been included when available. Most compositions are undated, but most were probably composed between 1930 and the 1950s.
Box 1: 1

Anacapa for Two Pianos (parts) (incomplete), Photoreproduction

Box 1: 2

Anacapa for Two Pianos (parts) (incomplete), Mss

Box 1: 3

Anacapa, Prelude to, for Two Pianos (parts) (incomplete), Mss

Box 1: 4

Anacapa and Prelude for Two Pianos (parts), Photoreproduction

Box 1: 5

Arullo del Burrito for Flute and Piano (score), Mss

Box 1: 6

Arullo del Burrito for Flute and Piano (score), Photoreproduction

Box 1: 7

Arullo del Burrito for Flute and Piano (score), Vellum

Box 1: 8

B.G. for Piano (score), Mss

Box 1: 9

Barnyard Cogitations for Voice and Piano (score), Photoreproduction

Box 1: 10

Barnyard Cogitations for Voice and Piano (score), Mss

Box 1: 10a

Barnyard Cogitations for Voice and Piano (score) (cop. 2), Mss

Box 1: 11

Beggar Boys for Voice and Piano (score), Mss

Box 1: 12

Childhood for Piano (score), Mss

Box 1: 13

Consolation for Right Hand Alone (Piano) (score), Mss

Box 1: 14

Consolation for Right Hand Alone (Piano) (score) (cop. 2), Mss

Box 1: 15

Dancing Bears for Piano (score), Mss

Box 1: 16

Days of Our Years, The, for vln., ob., pno. (bound parts), Photoreproduction

Box 1: 17

Days of Our Years, The, for vln., ob., pno. (bound score), Photoreproduction

Box 1: 18

Days of Our Years, The, for vln., ob., pno. (bound score) (cop. 2), Photoreproduction

Box 1: 19

Days of Our Years, The, for vln., ob., pno. (bound sketchbook), Mss

Box 1: 20

Days of Our Years, The, for vln., ob., pno. (parts), Vellum

Box 1: 21

Days of Our Years, The, for vln., ob., pno. (score), Vellum

Box 1: 22

Days of Our Years, The, for vln., ob., pno. (sketches), Mss

Box 2: 1

Debussy Songs for Two Pianos (bound score), Mss

Box 2: 2

Debussy Songs for Two Pianos (score), Mss

Box 2: 3

Dirge for Two Pianos (score), Photoreproduction

Box 2: 4

Dirge for Two Pianos (sketches), Mss

Box 2: 5

Dirge for Violin and Piano (score), Mss

Box 2: 6

Dirge for Violin and Piano (violin part), Mss

Box 2: 7

Elegy for String Quartet (score), Mss

Box 2: 8

Elegy for String Quartet (score) (cop. 2), Mss

Box 2: 9

Epithalaneum for String Quartet (score) (incomplete), Mss

Box 2: 10

Fantasy for Cello and Piano (part), Mss

Box 2: 11

Fantasy for Cello and Piano (part), Vellum

Box 2: 12

Fantasy for Cello and Piano (parts), Photoreproduction

Box 2: 13

Fantasy for Cello and Piano (score), Photoreproduction

Box 2: 14

Fantasy for Cello and Piano (score), Vellum

Box 2: 15

Fantasy for Cello and Piano (score), Mss

Box 2: 16

Fantasy for Cello and Piano (score) (cop. 2), Photoreproduction

Box 2: 17

Fantasy for Cello and Piano (score) (cop. 2), Mss

Box 2: 18

Four Old French Carols for Voice and Piano (score), Mss

Box 2: 19

Four Old French Carols for Voice and Piano (score) (incomplete), Mss

Box 2: 20

Four Old French Carols for Voice and Piano (sketches), Mss

Box 2: 21

Fur and Feathers for Voice and Piano (score), Photoreproduction

Box 2: 22

Fur and Feathers for Voice and Piano (score) (cop. 2), Photoreproduction

Box 2: 23

Fur and Feathers for Voice and Piano (score) (cop. 3), Photoreproduction

Box 2: 24

Fur and Feathers for Voice and Piano (score) (fragment), Mss

Box 2: 25

Fur and Feathers for Voice and Piano (score) (incomplete), Photoreproduction

Box 2: 26

Fur and Feathers for Voice and Piano (score) (incomplete), Negative

Box 2: 27

Fur and Feathers for Voice and Piano (score) (incomplete), Mss

Box 2: 28

Fur and Feathers for Voice and Piano (score), Negative

Box 2: 29

Fur and Feathers for Voice and Piano (score), Mss

Box 3: 1

Gitanesca for Two Pianos (score), Photoreproduction

Box 3: 2

Gitanesca for Pno., vln., vcl. (parts), Mss

Box 3: 3

Introduction and Scherzo for String Quartet (score), Mss

Box 3: 4

Introduction and Scherzo for String Quartet (sketches), Mss

Box 3: 5

"Irish Washerwoman, The," Variations on for 2 Pianos (score), Vellum

Box 3: 6

"Irish Washerwoman, The," Variations on for 2 Pianos (score), Photoreproduction

Box 3: 7

"Irish Washerwoman, The," Variations on for 2 Pianos (score) (cop. 2), Photoreproduction

Box 3: 8

"Irish Washerwoman, The," Variations on for 2 Pianos (score) (cop. 3), Photoreproduction

Box 3: 9

"Irish Washerwoman, The," Variations on for 2 Pianos (score) (cop. 4), Photoreproduction

Box 3: 10

"Irish Washerwoman, The," Variations on for 2 Pianos (score) (cop. 5), Photoreproduction

Box 3: 11

"Irish Washerwoman, The," Variations on for 2 Pianos (score) (cop. 6), Photoreproduction

Box 3: 12

"Irish Washerwoman, The," Variations on for 2 Pianos (score) (cop. 7), Photoreproduction

Box 3: 13

"Irish Washerwoman, The," Variations on for Orchestra (parts), Photoreproduction

Box 3: 14

"Irish Washerwoman, The," Variations on for Orchestra (parts) (cop. 2), Photoreproduction

Box 3: 15

"Irish Washerwoman, The," Variations on for Orchestra (score), Mss

Box 3: 15

"Irish Washerwoman, The," Variations on for Orchestra (score) (cop. 2), Mss

Box 3: 16

Leaping Frogs for Piano (score), Mss

Box 3: 17

Mirage for Piano (score) (incomplete), Photoreproduction

Box 3: 18

Mirage for Piano (score) (incomplete), Mss

Box 4: 1

Motivic Analysis of a Debussy Quartet (sketches), Mss

Box 4: 2

Musical Puzzle, A, for Piano (score), Mss

Box 4: 3

New Colossus, The, (Statue of Liberty) for Voice and Piano (score), Photoreproduction

Box 4: 4

New Colossus, The, (Statue of Liberty) for Voice and Piano (score), Mss

Box 4: 5

New Colossus, The, (Statue of Liberty) for Voice and Piano (score) (cop. 2), Mss

Box 4: 6

New Colossus, The, (Statue of Liberty) for Voice and Piano (score) (pseudo. Rex Herriott), Mss

Box 4: 7

New Colossus, The, (Statue of Liberty) for Voice and Piano (sketches), Mss

Box 4: 8

Nightengale, The, for Fl, ob., 2vls., vla, vcl., narrator (parts), Vellum

Box 4: 9

Nightengale, The, for Fl, ob., 2vls., vla, vcl., narrator (parts), Mss

Box 4: 10

Nightengale, The, for Fl, ob., 2vls., vla, vcl., narrator (parts), Photoreproduction

Box 4: 11

Nightengale, The, for Fl, ob., 2vls., vla, vcl., narrator (parts) (cop. 2), Photoreproduction

Box 4: 12

Nightengale, The, for Fl, ob., 2vls., vla, vcl., narrator (score), Vellum

Box 4: 13

Nightengale, The, for Fl, ob., 2vls., vla, vcl., narrator (sketch notebook), Mss

Box 4: 14

Nightengale, The, for Fl, ob., 2vls., vla, vcl., narrator (sketches), Mss

Box 4: 15

Oh, My Lord Who Makes the Thunder for Voice and Piano (score), Mss

Box 5: 1

Passacaglia (piano transcription), Mss

Box 5: 2

Passacaglia (piano transcription), Vellum

Box 5: 3

Passacaglia for Cl, 2vls., vla., vcl., pno. (bound score), Mss

Box 5: 4

Passacaglia for Cl, 2vls., vla., vcl., pno. (bound score) (cop. 2), Mss

Box 5: 5

Passacaglia for Cl, 2vls., vla., vcl., pno. (bound score) (cop. 3), Mss

Box 5: 6

Passacaglia for Cl, 2vls., vla., vcl., pno. (parts) missing pno. (cop. 2), Mss

Box 5: 7

Passacaglia for Cl, 2vls., vla., vcl., pno. (parts) missing pno. (cop. 3), Mss

Box 5: 8

Passacaglia for Cl, 2vls., vla., vcl., pno. (parts) missing pno. (cop. 4), Mss

Box 5: 9

Passacaglia for Cl, 2vls., vla., vcl., pno. (score), 1962, Vellum

Box 5: 10

Passacaglia for Cl, 2vls., vla., vcl., pno. (score) 2, Mss

Box 5: 11

Passacaglia for Cl, 2vls., vla., vcl., pno.(parts) missing pno., Mss

Box 5: 12

Passacaglia for Cl, 2vls., vla., vcl., pno.(parts) missing pno., Vellum

Box 5: 13

Passacaglia for orchestra (bound score), Mss

Box 5: 14

Passacaglia for orchestra (bound score) (cop. 2), Mss

Box 5: 15

Passacaglia for orchestra (score), Vellum

Box 5: 16

Passacaglia Sketches, Mss

Box 5: 17

Pee-Wee for Voice and Piano (score), Mss

Box 6: 1

Pippa Passes for Flute and Strings (bound score), Photoreproduction

Box 6: 2

Pippa Passes for Flute and Strings (bound score) (cop.2), Photoreproduction

Box 6: 3

Pippa Passes for Flute and Strings (parts), Photoreproduction

Box 6: 4

Pippa Passes for Flute and Strings (parts), Vellum

Box 6: 5

Pippa Passes for Flute and Strings (parts) (cop.2), Photoreproduction

Box 6: 6

Pippa Passes for Flute and Strings (score), Vellum

Box 6: 7

Pippa Passes for Flute and Strings (score), Mss

Box 6: 8

Psalm 150 for Voices (score) (ink), Mss

Box 6: 9

Psalm 150 for Voices (score) (pencil), Mss

Box 7: 1

Quintet for ob.,2vls., vla., vcl. (parts), Mss

Box 7: 2

Quintet: And On Earth, Peace (bound score), Mss

Box 7: 3

Quintet: And On Earth, Peace (parts) (incomplete), Mss

Box 7: 4

Quintet: And On Earth, Peace (sketches), Mss

Box 7: 5

Quintet: And On Earth, Peace (vocal score) (incomplete?), Mss

Box 7: 6

Rumba for Two Pianos (parts), Mss

Box 7: 7

Rumba for Two Pianos (parts) (incomplete), Mss

Box 7: 8

Rumba for Two Pianos (score), Mss

Box 7: 9

Sancho and Donkey's Entry for Piano (score) (incomplete), Mss

Box 7: 10

Scrambled Fables for Voice and Piano (score), Photoreproduction

Box 7: 11

Scrambled Fables for Voice and Piano (score) (incomplete), Vellum

Box 7: 12

Scrambled Fables for Voice and Piano (sketches), Mss

Box 8: 1

Sea Drift Cycle for Voice and Piano (bound score) (incomplete), Photoreproduction

Box 8: 2

Sea Drift Cycle for Voice and Piano (score), Mss

Box 8: 3

Sea Drift Cycle for Voice and Piano (score) (incomplete), Mss

Box 8: 4

Sea Drift Cycle for Voice and Piano (scores) (incomplete), Photoreproduction

Box 8: 5

Sea Drift Cycle for Voice and Piano (sketches), Mss

Box 8: 6

Seven French Carols for Voice and Piano (score), Photoreproduction

Box 8: 7

Seven More Little Pieces for Piano (score), Photoreproduction

Box 8: 8

Seven Sad Beasts for Voice and Piano (score), Mss

Box 8: 9

Skating Lesson, The, for Piano (score), Mss

Box 8: 10

Skating Lesson, The, for Piano (score) (cop. 2), Mss

Box 8: 11

Sketchbook, Bound, Mss

Box 8: 12

Song of Hymen for String Orchestra (score), Mss

Box 8: 13

Song of Hymen for String Orchestra (score) (cop. 2), Mss

Box 8: 14

Song of Hymen for String Orchestra (score) (cop. 3), Mss

Box 8: 15

Strike- Scene 1 for Piano (score), Mss

Box 9: 1

String Quartet (bound score), Photoreproduction

Box 9: 2

String Quartet (bound score) (cop. 2), Photoreproduction

Box 9: 3

String Quartet (parts), Photoreproduction

Box 9: 4

String Quartet (parts), Vellum

Box 9: 5

String Quartet (score), Vellum

Box 9: 6

String Quartet (score), Photoreproduction

Box 9: 7

Study forTwo Pianos (score), Mss

Box 8: 16

Suite for Piano and Harpsichord (score), Mss

Box 8: 17

Suite for Piano and Harpsichord (score) (cop. 2), Mss

Box 8: 18

Suite for Piano and Harpsichord (score) (incomplete), Mss

Box 8: 19

Suite for Piano and Harpsichord (sketches), Mss

Box 9: 8

Tambourine, The, for Piano (score), Mss

Box 9: 9

Tambourine, The, for Piano (score) (cop. 2), Mss

Box 9: 10

Texts, Mss

Box 9: 11

Toy Town for Voice and Piano (score), Mss

Box 9: 12

Transcription of J.S. Bach: "Christ lag in Todesbanden", Mss

Box 10: 1

Ugly Duckling, The, for Orchestra (condensed score), Mss

Box 10: 2

Ugly Duckling, The, for Orchestra (parts) (incomplete), Mss

Box 10: 3

Ugly Duckling, The, for Orchestra (piano transcription), Mss

Box 10: 4

Ugly Duckling, The, for Orchestra (score), Mss

Box 10: 5

Ugly Duckling, The, for Orchestra (sketches) (text), Mss

Box 10: 6

Unidentified Sketches, Mss

Box 10: 7

Vulture, The, for Piano and Voice (score), Mss

Box 10: 8

Waltzing Mice for Piano (score), Mss

Box 10: 9

We are Seven-Little Pieces for Piano (score) (published), Photoreproduction

Box 10: 10

Wedding Music (parts) (incomplete), Photoreproduction

Box 10: 11

Wedding Music (Sketches), Mss

Box 10: 12

Xanadu for Two Pianos (parts), Mss

Box 10: 14

Autumn Night by Neil Daniels for Piano (score), Mss

 

Photographs

Scope and Content Note

Series II, Photographs contains photographs of Couper's home in Mission Canyon, family and friends, autographed photographs given to Mrs. Couper, and formal portraits of friends and family. Also included are photographs from a late nineteenth-century photo album. The photographs in the collection include black & white photographs on fiber and resin coated paper, color photographs, Polaroid photographs, tintypes, and other media.
Box 11: 1

Photographs- Autographs

Box 11: 2

Photographs- House (Monteverde)

Box 11: 3

Photographs- Family & Friends

Box 11: 4

Photographs- Portraits

Box 11: 5

Photographs- Album (Prill Family?)

 

Newspaper Clippings

Scope and Content Note

Series III, Newspaper Clippings contains newspaper articles about Mildred Couper's musical and social activities of note. Also included are reviews written by Mrs. Couper for the Santa Barbara News-Press.
Box 11: 6

Newspaper Clippings (Couper as Author)

Box 11: 7

Newspaper Clippings (Couper as Subject)

 

Correspondence

Scope and Content Note

Series IV, Correspondence contains many of Couper's letters, financial and business documents, and concert programs.
Box 12: 2

Correspondence, 1897-1908.

Box 12: 3

Correspondence, 1909.

Box 12: 4

Correspondence, 1910.

Box 12: 5

Correspondence, 1911-1912.

Box 12: 6

Correspondence, 1913-1914.

Box 12: 7

Correspondence, 1915-1974.

 

Miscellany

Scope and Content Note

Series V, Miscellany contains items from the collection that deal with Couper's life and career, including a compilation of Couper's works by her granddaughter Greta, concert programs of performances in which Couper performed, had works performed, or reviewed, a watercolor painting of Couper's home and a guestbook from the estate.
Box 11: 1

Mimi's Music (compiled by Greta Couper), vol 1

Box 11: 2

Mimi's Music (compiled by Greta Couper), vol 2

Box 12: 7

Personal Writings

Box 12: 8

Financial & Business Papers

Box 12: 9

Photographs Found in Letters

Box 12: 10

Concert Programs

Box 14: 2

Guestbook, Monteverde

Box 14: 3

Watercolor, Monteverde (Eric Parfit)

Box 12: 11

Awards and Diplomas

Box 12:

Concert Programs

 

Recordings

Scope and Content Note

Series VI, Recordings contains 27 discs, primarily lacquer recordings of her own compositions, often with Couper herself performing the piano parts, and two recordings of her playing other works on the piano. There is also a recording of Honegger's King David. The relationship of this recording to Mildred Couper is unknown.
item A5074/D12

Aboard at a Ship's Helm ; Shirley Eisley, soprano. (10" lacquer disc), n.d.

item A5075/D12

Cello Fantasy. (10" lacquer disc), n.d.

item A5076/D12

Days of Our Years, The. (12" lacquer disc), n.d.

 

A5077/D12-A5079/D12 Dirge. Pianists Mildred Couper and V. Koehler. Radio Recorders RR4627, RR4628. (12" shellac disc, 3 copies), n.d.

item A5080/D12

Dirge, Rumba. (12" lacquer disc), n.d.

item A5081/D12

Dirge, Rumba. (10" lacquer disc), n.d.

 

A5081/D12 Dirge, Rumba. (10" lacquer disc), n.d.

item A5082/D12

Nightingale, The. Narrated by Carl Zytowski. Pippa Passes. (12" lacquer disc), n.d.

item A5083/D12-A5084/D12

Nightingale, The. Narrated by Carl Zytowski; Mildred Couper, pianist; Laurie Blane, flutist. KRCW-FM recording. (10" vinyl disc, 2 copies), n.d.

item A5085/D12-A5086/D12

Nine Muses, Peter Yazbeck, piano. ( 2 7" lacquer discs), n.d.

item A5087/D12

Pippa passes. (12" lacquer disc), n.d.

 

A5088/D12 Prelude to Anacapa, Rumba. (10" lacquer disc), n.d.

item A5089/D12-A5090/D12

Suite-Version One. Mildred Couper, piano; John Gillespie, harpsichord. (12" lacquer disc, 2 copies), n.d.

item A5091/D12

Variations on the Irish Washerwoman for Two Pianos, Passacaglia for Clarinet, Strings and Piano. (12" lacquer disc), n.d.

item A5092/D12-A5097/D12

King David, Arthur Honegger. (6 12" lacquer discs), n.d.

item A5098/D12

Three Songs by Madeleine De Bryas. Mildred Couper, piano; Dorothy Westra, soprano. (10" lacquer disc), n.d.

item A5099/D12-A5100/D12

Prelude No. 9 and 17 by Chopin. Mildred Couper, piano. (7" lacquer disc, 2 copies), n.d.