James Francis Cooke

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James Francis Cooke
James Francis Cooke, 1952, from an article in The Wesleyan Pharos college newspaper.
James Francis Cooke, 1952, from an article in The Wesleyan Pharos college newspaper.
Born (1875-11-14)November 14, 1875
Bay City, Michigan
Died March 3, 1960(1960-03-03) (aged 84)
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania
Occupation Author, journalist, editor, publisher, music teacher, pianist, composer
Citizenship United States of America
Education Doctor of Music
Alma mater Royal Conservatory in Wurzburg
Subject Music history, music theory, musician features, classical music
Notable works
  • The Etude
  • Great Pianists upon Piano-Playing
  • Great Singers on the Art of Singing
  • Mastering the Scales and Arpeggios
Notable awards
Spouse Betsey Ella Beckwith
  • Carol L. Cooke (died in childhood before 1910)
  • Francis Sherman Cooke[1]


James Francis Cooke (November 14, 1875, Bay City, Michigan – March 3, 1960, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania) spent his life involved with music.[1][2] He was a pianist, composer, playwright, journalist, author (including novels and of books on musical history and theory), a president of Theodore Presser music publishers from 1925 to 1936, and editor of The Etude music magazine from 1907 to 1950,[2][3] or 1913 to 1956.[1] He taught piano for more than twenty years in New York, led choral clubs and taught voice.[2] He also gave music-topic lectures.[2]

His work was in the field of music education, and he was the president of the Philadelphia Music Teacher's Association for seven years.[4] He was president of the Presser Foundation for 38 years.[1] He was also a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the Union League and the Sons of the American Revolution.[1]

Dust cover to James Francis Cooke's book,Great Singers on the Art of Singing.


He married Betsey Ella Beckwith (born Toledo, Ohio, 1896) in 1899. She was a concert singer. They had two sons, Carol Lincoln Cooke (born 1900, died in childhood) and Francis Sherman Cooke (born 1905). The family was recorded in the U.S. Censuses, passport application and ship's travel logs (look at see also section for links).


Cooke was educated in the New York public schools at Brooklyn.[3] He studied music with R. Huntington Woodman, Walter Henry Hall, Charles Dunham, Dudley Buck, Ernst Eberhard and William Medorn in New York.[3]

He attended the Royal Conservatory in Wurzburg, Germany in 1900.[2][3] There he studied under Dr. K. Kliebert,[5] Max Meyer-Olbersleben and music historian and composer Hermann Ritter.[2][3]

He received his doctorate in music from the University of the State of New York in 1906.[1]

John Philip Sousa[edit]

In the course of his interviewing and talking with the musicians of his day, Cooke became a "close friend and associate" with John Philip Sousa.[6] As president of the Theodore Presser Company, Cooke published some of the Sousa's works.[6] In 1924 He helped to increase the sales of one of Sousa's pieces by changing its name from March of the Mitten Men to Power and Glory - Fraternal March.[6] He also wrote words to go with Sousa's A Serenade In Seville in 1924. Sousa visited him shortly before his death, and talked to him about the lack of religion in modern music as a failing.[6] The two attended a play "If Booth Had Missed." Two days later, Sousa died of a heart attack.[6]


Three of his works were recorded and released by Victor Records.[7] Ol' Car'lina (1921) featured soprano Amelita Galli-Curci doing a vocal solo, backed by orchestra.[7] The Angelus (1926) featured a vocal solo by Elsie Baker, also backed by orchestra. Sea gardens (1929) had Rosario Bourdon playing with the Victor Symphonic Band.[7]

Cooke composed for piano. Piano solos include: White Orchids (1941),[8] Mountain Shower (1943),[9] Roses at Dawn (1945),[10] and Ballet Mignon (1948).[11] He wrote the music and poem published together as Sea Gardens (1925).[12] Wrote words to In a Garden Filled With Roses (1939) to a melody by Charles Wakefield Cadman.[13]


Advertising blurbs for books by James Francis Cooke, taken from the rear of the dust cover to Great Singers on the Art of Singing.

He wrote the following books:

  • Standard History of Music: A First History for Students of All Ages, 1910[2]
  • Great Pianists upon Piano-Playing, 1913[2][14]
  • Mastering the Scales and Arpeggios, 1913[2][15]
  • Musical Playlets, 1917[2]
  • Music-Masters Old and New.[2]
  • Great Singers on the Art of Singing[16]
  • Young Folks' Picture History of Music, 1925
  • Master Study in Music
  • A Fight in Defense of Music[17]
  • Musical travelogues; little visits to European musical shrines for the casual traveler, the music lover, the student and the teacher, 1934
  • Musical plays for young folks: Scenes from the lives of the great composers, 1934[18]
  • How to Memorize Music 1948[19]


External links[edit]