Francis Judd Cooke

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Francis Judd Cooke

Birthdate: (84)
Birthplace: Honolulu, HI, USA
Death: May 18, 1995 (84)
Lexington, MA, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of George Paul Cooke and Sophie Boyd Cooke
Husband of May Cooke (Ludwig)
Father of <private> Cooke; Duncan Cooke; <private> Cooke; <private> Cooke; <private> Cooke and 1 other
Brother of George P. Cooke; Dora Cooke; Thomas Hastings Cooke; Stephen Montague Cooke; Phoebe Cooke and 1 other

Occupation: musician/composer/professor
Managed by: Thalia Cooke Slocombe
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Francis Judd Cooke

Francis Judd Cooke was born on Dec. 28,1910 (Dec. 26th per LDS records) in Honolulu, Hawaii, to a family of New England missionaries turned cattle ranchers. His father was George Paul Cooke, grandson of Amos Starr Cooke and Juliette Montague; founders of the Royal School of Hawaii. His mother was Sophie Boyd Judd.

Francis began composing at an early age and attended both Yale, graduating in 1933, a B.A. in Music; and Edinburgh University in Scotland, attaining a Bachelor of Music degree, in 1938. He met and married, there, with violist MAY LUDWIG. They settled in Lexington, Mass. where they had six children.

Francis Judd Cooke (December 28, 1910– May 18, 1995) was an American composer, organist, cellist, pianist, conductor, choir director, and professor.


Cooke was born December 28, 1910 in Honolulu, Hawaii, to a family of New England missionaries turned cattle ranchers. He was the great grandson of Gerrit P. Judd, the first doctor to reside in Hawaii, and grandson of Albert Francis Judd, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hawaii. His mother was Sophie Boyd Judd, and father was George Paul Cooke, grandson of Amos Starr Cooke and Juliette Montague Cooke, founders of the Royal School of Hawaii.

Cooke began composing at an early age and his first serious pieces date from age 14. He received a B.A. in music from Yale University in 1933, where he was a member of Skull and Bones. He then studied for two years with Charles Martin Loeffler in Medfield, Massachusetts. In 1935 he went to Scotland to study with Donald Francis Tovey at the University of Edinburgh, receiving a Mus. Bac. (Bachelor of Music) degree with First Class Honours in 1938. While studying in Scotland he met and married violist May Ludwig. They settled in Lexington, Massachusetts, where they raised six children.

In 1939 Cooke began teaching at the New England Conservatory of Music, at the request of the Conservatory's then-director, Quincy Porter. His notable students there included John Bavicchi, Sarah Caldwell, Héctor Campos-Parsi, Stephen Casale, Robert Ceely, Robert Cogan, Lyle Davidson, Halim El-Dabh, David Epstein, Ercolino Ferretti, William Hibbard, Billy Jim Layton, Ruth Lomon, Kenneth Peacock, Richard Ronsheim, Ernie Stires, Albert Tepper, and Luise Vosgerchian. He retired in 1970.

He also taught at Yale University in 1959-1960 and at Wellesley College from 1973 to 1979.

A prolific composer, Cooke wrote a great number of choral and orchestral works, as well as chamber works. One CD of his music, entitled The Warsaw Recordings (which he did not live to hear), has been released.

In 1974 he completed a music textbook entitled Sixteenth-Century Vocal Polyphony. In the same year he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music from the New England Conservatory.

Cooke suffered a stroke in 1981, hampering his organ playing and choir directing, and he turned to composing full-time during the last 14 years of his life. On May 18, 1995, at the age of 84, he died in his sleep at his home in Lexington, Massachusetts, where he had lived for 51 years. He had completed that morning a movement for wind quintet ("Dolce assai"), which was performed at his memorial service the following week at Lexington's First Parish Church (Unitarian), where he had served as organist and choirmaster from 1955 to 1981. Cooke, who greatly enjoyed poetry, used to sum up his own life with a favorite couplet from the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore's Gitanjali:

"It was my part at the feast to play upon my instrument And I have done all I could."

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Francis Judd Cooke's Timeline

December 26, 1910
Honolulu, HI, USA
May 18, 1995
Age 84
Lexington, MA, USA
- 1933