Frances Ulric Cole was born on September 9th, 1905. She grew up in a family of professional musicians and began her own musical career at a young age. By the time she turned 18, she was awarded a fellowship to the Julliard School of Music.
In 1924, Amy Beach invited Cole to participate in the first annual festival of American Women Composers to be held in Washington, D.C. Beach sponsored performances of Cole's music at this event. After finishing her studies at Julliard, she travelled to Paris to study with the famous composition teacher Nadia Boulanger.
For the next 25 years, Cole enjoyed a successful career as a performer and composer but, in the early 1950's, gave up music as a profession. Cole took work as a copywriter for Time Magazine from 1945 to 1952. In 1953, she took a position as a translator/secretary on a study grant in New Hebrides. She stayed in the tropics working with a staff of mostly convicts for several years. She eventually returned to the states but her love of travel never abated. Late into her life, she was prone to take off, visiting places as diverse as Oslo, Panama, Sydney and Colombo. For a time, she lived on the islands of Tahiti and Vanatu in the South Pacific Ocean and composed Sunlight Channel in 1948.
Cole continued to compose and perform after her retirement from the professional music world. Her works were performed at the United Nations Association, innumerable universities, and the Kennedy Center, Her commissioned Concerto for Piano and Orchestra #2 received its world premiere in 1946 under the baton of Eugene Goossens with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Two of her compositions, Piano Quintet and Violin Sonata no.1, won awards from the Society for the Publication of American Music. Her orchestral compositions have been performed by symphonies in Cincinnati, Sydney, Rochester, Scranton and Lansdowne.
She was a founding member of the Society of American Women Composers, and died in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1992.
Harlem Meander Rag (1943) - With echoes of James P. Johnson and early jazz, Uric Cole's Harlem Meander is the opening movement of her 3-movement piano suite entitled Metropolitones. It's a wonderfully rhythmic piece with some pretty advanced chordal harmonies for the time it was published (1943).
Lullaby In The Park (1943) - "Lullaby in the Park" is the second piece in Cole's piano suite titled Metropolitones. This beautiful quiet piece is written in 12/8 time, which gives it a comforting rocking motion throughout. The piece was composed by Cole in 1943.
Man-About-Town (1943) - This is Cole's final movement from her Metropolitones suite for solo piano. This one is tour de force of rhythmic syncopation, and highlights sophisticated jazz voicings that were ahead of her time when the piece was published in 1943. When listening to the music, one can almost imagine a high class man walking around Manhattan in the early 1940s, taking in all the noise and busyness of the day, while still retaining a sense of class and sophistication.
Locating the Music
Unfortunately, all of Cole's piano music seems to be out of print. If you are interested, you can contact me through this site for free PDF copies of Cole's Metropolitones.
List of Piano Compositions
Above the Clouds (1924)
Prelude and Fugue in C Minor for two pianos (unpublished; 1924)
Tunes & Sketches in Black and White (1926)
Purple Shadows; an Impression for Piano (1928)
The Prairies (1931)
Three Piano Vignettes (1936)
Metropolitones: Three Compositions for the Piano (1943)
Divertimento, arranged for two pianos (unpublished, 1971)