South Mountain Concerts
Rtes. 7 & 20,
Box 23, Pittsfield, MA
Chamber music concerts each September and October
Since its founding in 1918 by the woman described as “the fairy godmother of chamber music,” Mrs. Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, South Mountain’s Concert Hall has been sending the beautiful, yearning strains of great chamber music wafting over the Berkshire Hills. Both the idyllic setting and the acoustics of the hall itself (seating 440, designed in a colonial style using timber from an old textile mill) have combined to offer a deeply moving musical experience. The building itself is listed in the National Register of Historic Buildings. The distinguished performers who have performed at this site include Leonard Bernstein, Gary Graffman, Leontyne Price, Alexander Schneider, Rudolph Serkin, the Beaux Arts Trio and such string quartets as the Cleveland, the Emerson, the Garneri, the Julliard and the Tokyo.
In addition, South Mountain Concerts has an active outreach program to schools in Berkshire County, enlightening and entertaining more than 10,000 students annually.
(An interesting historical sidenote: in 1935 Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge created at the Library of Congress the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation for the support of chamber music. Her aim, Mrs. Coolidge wrote in that year’s Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress, was “to make possible, through the Library of Congress, the composition and performance of music in ways which might otherwise be considered too unique or too expensive to be ordinarily undertaken. Not this alone, of course, nor with a view to extravagance for its own sake; but as an occasional possibility of giving precedence to considerations of quality over those of quantity; to artistic rather than to economic values; and to opportunity rather than to expediency.” The scope and quality of the manuscripts in the Coolidge Foundation Collection attest to how fully the foundation has fulfilled Mrs. Coolidge’s intentions. Among the three hundred, twentieth-century holographs are works by Bartok, Copland, Menotti, Bloch, Ravel, Roussel, Prokofiev, Schoenberg, von Webern and many others. In addition to works commissioned by the foundation over the years, the collection includes Mrs. Coolidge’s music compositions and works dedicated to her, as well as photographs and correspondence from many of the artists in the collection. The letters are arranged by correspondent and measure fifty linear feet! Contact the Library of Congress for more information.)