COLE, ROSSETTER GLEASON
Prof. Rossetter G. Cole was born February 5, 1866, at Clyde, Oakland county, Mich., and was the youngest of six children. He was only 6 years old when his father died, and two years later his mother moved from the farm to Ann Arbor, determined to give her children the best educational advantages, in spite of limited means. By courage, thrift and energy, she succeeded in putting all her children through the high school and her four sons through the university. Rossetter did not attend school until he was 9 years old, receiving his earliest instruction from his mother, whose skillful supervision laid the foundation for his good habits of study. He graduated from the Latin course of the Ann Arbor high school in 1884, and in the following fall entered the University of Michigan, graduating in 1888 with the degree of bachelor of philosophy. While in college, he was an enthusiastic member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
From his earliest years Professor Cole had a great
love for music. He grew up in an atmosphere of it, for his brothers and sisters all
played and sang well. He learned these things himself very young, and at the age of
6 composed several instrumental pieces. A fragment of one, "A Storm at
Sea," still exists. Nothing was done, however, to develop this creative
instinct until during his high school course, when he took lessons in harmony under Francis
L. York, and in 1884 began the [Begin Page 517] study of the
pipe organ with the same gentleman. While attending the university he helped
organize, and was for four years director of, the university glee club, which gained a
splendid reputation throughout the west and northwest.
The year after graduating Professor Cole taught branches of English in the Ann Arbor high school, and in 1889 accepted a position as instructor in Latin and German in the Aurora, Illinois, high school. In 1890 he went to Berlin, where for two years he studied music under such masters as Heinrich van Eycken, Gustav Kogel and Wilhelm Middelschulte, now of Chicago. At the suggestion of van Eycken he took the examination for admission to the Royal Master School of Composition, the highest school of its kind in Germany, and a part of the Royal Academy of Arts. Though the number of students at any one time is limited to twenty-four, he gained entrance over many competitors, being the sixth American ever admitted. The scholarship thus won entitled him to three years of free instruction under the greatest masters, but at the end of his second year in Berlin under Max Bruch, he had to return home on account of short funds. He obtained the position of musical director at Ripon college, in Wisconsin, where he remained two years, in 1894 accepting his present position. He has done much to build up the department of music at Iowa college and it now includes six teachers and about 130 students. In addition, he has organized and conducted a college glee club of eighteen voices and an orchestra of thirty pieces. These organizations have won much applause in their annual tours.
In 1894 Professor Cole became a member of the New
York Manuscript society, an organization of composers, aiming toward the advancement of
American music, in whose public concerts his compositions are frequently heard. For
two years he has been honorary corresponding secretary from Iowa. At the St. Louis
meeting of the music teachers' national association, in July, 1895, he read a paper on
" The Relation of Music to Education," and at the New York meeting in June,
1897, a paper of his was read on "The Best College Treatment of Harmony."
He was chosen vice-president of the association for Iowa in February, 1897.
He has contributed to various periodicals, and his many musical compositions have
been accepted by leading publishers. In 1893 he was commissioned by Mr.
William L. Tomlins to write five children's songs for the Worlds' fair children's
chorus of 1,200 voices. In December, 1897, he was elected to active membership in
the Manuscript society of Chicago.
Among his larger unpublished works are a sonata for piano and violin, which has been performed several times in New York city, Chicago and Detroit, a romanza for violin, a passacaglia for two pianos, festival march for two pianos, a suite for orchestra, besides many compositions for piano, voice and organ.
The professor was married August 6, 1896, at Ann Arbor, to Miss
Fannie Louise Gwinner, who had been associated with him in musical work in Ripon
college and later in Iowa college. She is a gifted musician, and has gained much
praise as the translator of Marx's " Introduction to the Interpretation of
NOTE: This man appears on the 1870 Census for Highland Township, Oakland County, Michigan, page 254, as "Rosita G. Cole," age 4, living with his parents, Henry W. Cole, age 50, and Mary C. Cole, age 43. Other references give the spelling of his first name as "Rossiter" and "Rossitter."
Despite the same last name, there is no known relationship between this family and that of Orin and Tamir Cole, who settled in Section 6 of Highland Township in 1836-37. Information posted to Ancestry.com indicates Orin Cole descends from a John Cole, b. 1639 at Northamptonshire, England; d. 1689 at Farmington, Connecticut. In contrast, the account above says Rossetter/Rossiter/Rossitter G. Cole descends from a John Cole b. 1670, while information posted to Ancestry.com says his ancestor was one Henry Cole, born 1627 in Essex, England; d. 1676 at Wallingford, Connecticut.