Silvio Coscia (1899-1977) came from a family of professional singers, including his father and his brother. At the age of eight, Coscia was accepted as a cantor at the St Ambrigio Cathedral in Milan under Mr. Cervi. In 1910, Coscia entered the Municipal School of Singing, where he completed the regular three-year course under Mr. Corio. In 1913, he entered the Royal Conservatory of Music in Milan where he earned his degree and became proficient in piano, organ, French horn, and composition.
In 1924, Coscia immigrated to the United States where he played horn in symphonic organizations. Subsequently, in 1928, Coscia joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as its youngest member and remained there through 1964. While performing with the Met orchestra, Coscia also served as a vocal coach to well known artists such as Renata Tebaldi, Lily Pons, and Jerome Hines. During this time Coscia also began composing serious works for orchestra, symphonic band, winds, and voice.
Also while in New York, Coscia worked as an arranger for the Goldman Band and performed with the New York Symphony Band. Coscia’s compositions have been performed by the New York Symphony, the Halifax Symphony, the New England Conservatory Symphony, the Municipal Band of Venice, the Detroit Concert Band, the Santa Fe Chamber Orchestra and the Goldman Band. In additions, Coscia’s songs have been performed at the Santa Fe festival, and in recital by Giuseppe Valdengo and Cesare Siepe. Coscia’s music has been published by Barron, Fox, and Ricordi. He is sometimes referred to as Sylvius C.
After retiring from the Metropolitan orchestra, Coscia returned to Milan for awhile and later returned to the United States, where he was hired by his friend Gunther Schuller to serve on the faculty of New England Conservatory. Coscia taught voice and operatic diction at NEC from 1967-1975. Upon Coscia’s death, his widow Virginia Coscia donated many of his compositions to the library at New England Conservatory.
Coscia was the recipient of The Silver Medal of Merit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy and was knighted by the President of Italy.
Biographical information taken from materials in this collection’s Clippings/Publicity file as well as: McGee, Randy Brent, Silvio Coscia: A Brief Biography and Performance Edition of Selected Vocal Works., PhD. Dissertation, University of Colorado, 1996.
This collection consists of 2 drop front boxes of papers, primarily containing photographs as well as a few paper files. In addition there are 10 manuscript boxes of Coscia's compositions.
The Coscia Papers and Music Collection was a gift of Silvio Coscia’s widow, Virginia Coscia, donated in January 1978
Access to the Silvio Coscia Papers and Music Collection is granted by the Archivist. Appointments must be scheduled in advance. There are no restrictions pertaining this collection.
Please contact the Archivist regarding copyright restrictions and publication permissions. This collection should be cited as: NECA 19.6. Silvio Coscia Papers and Music collection, New England Conservatory Archives, Boston, MA.