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Collection Information


Sol Cohen music materials


Correspondence, diaries, and related archival materials at the Illinois Historical Survey Library; sheet music and other music materials in the Music and Performing Arts Library, largely in storage on the lower level of the University Press Building (dispersed among similar uncataloged materials); some titles may have been cataloged as individual items for the Music and Performing Arts Library’s Special Collections.


Personal library collected over many years by Sol Cohen (b. 1891) and other members of the Cohen family, who were active as musicians in Champaign-Urbana and elsewhere throughout most of the twentieth century.

When acquired

December 11, 1992 (date materials received in the Music Library from the Illinois Historical Survey Library; Survey personnel had approached Cohen as early as 1980 about depositing his personal papers and library in the University of Illinois Library).


Materials at the Illinois Historical Survey Library consist of correspondence; diaries and other manuscripts; manuscript music, as well as published music by Sol Cohen and other composers; personal papers; clippings and scrapbooks; recordings (including works by Sol Cohen, by his friends and students. Sol Cohen interviews, an 8 mm. film entitled “Sol Cohen: My Family, My Music, My Life”); photographs; and artifacts.

Materials received by the Music Library included 70 books, 8 hymnals, 55 song collections, and about 2,000 items of sheet music, as well as isolated volumes or single issues of music journals, and published or unpublished copies of theory texts by former School of Music faculty member Hubert Kessler.


Most published sheet music remains in storage, arranged by medium of performance/alphabetically by composer. Materials have been marked “Gift – S. Cohen” in gutter when it has been possible to ascertain that individual items were formerly owned by Cohen or other members of his family. Much of Cohen’s music was in poor physical shape when received; incomplete items have been discarded.

Access/Finding Aids/Bibliography

For access to materials held at the Illinois Historical Survey library see: the Sol B. Cohen Papers, 1870-1988.

Collections File folder (“Cohen, Sol”) contains a copy of the “Sol Cohen Collection Inventory Working Outline” (see below) prepared by Illinois Historical Survey personnel, as well as correspondence between IHS Librarian John Hoffmann and Music Librarian William McClellan.

 Cohen Working Outline (PDF)

Unfortunately, no list exists of individual titles of music publications. Kessler theory textbooks (possibly those received from the Cohen estate) have been cataloged for the Music and Performing Arts Library’s Special Collections (MPAL: 781.4 K48F)

Additional Information

See Cohen’s autobiography: Years of Pilgrimage: Memoirs of an American Musician (MPAL: 780.923 C66C1)

Index terms

Champaign-Urbana: musical life
Cohen, Sol
Cohen family
Kessler, Hubert

See also:

Cohen, Sol. Years of pilgrimage: memoirs of an American musician . (Champaign-Urbana: c 1982) [780.923 C66cl]

As a young man, School of Music faculty member Rudolph Haken was a friend or student of Sol Cohen, and may be able to answer questions or fill in background information. Photo (s) of Haken and a cassette of his music are held by the Illinois Historical Survey Library.