Skip to main content

Felix Borowski Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Borowski

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, typescripts of works, musical examples, family-related materials, photographs, and sound recordings documenting the personal and professional life of Felix Borowski. The bulk of the correspondence in the collection is between family members, and primarily between Felix Borowski and his second wife, Elsa Kanne Borowski. Both correspondence and photographs document Felix Borowski's close affiliation with the classical music culture in Chicago and worldwide. A few sound recordings are also within the collection, some of which were never commercially released (consult with curator for access to these recordings, which are on fragile and/or obsolete formats). Audiovisual materials have been digitized and are available online.


  • Creation: 1841-1995
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1896 - 1956



Materials are primarily in English, with some letters in French, German, and Polish.

Conditions Governing Access

The Felix Borowski Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Audiovisual recordings in this collection have been digitized and are available online. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Felix Borowski Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Felix Borowski

Felix Borowski was born at Burton-in-Kendal, Westmoreland, England, on March 10, 1872. Borowski studied violin, music theory, and composition in England as well as at the Cologne Conservatory in Germany. After graduation from Cologne he began his career as a violin teacher in Aberdeen, Scotland. Borowski was invited to move to the United States by Florenz Ziegfeld, who was president of the Chicago Musical College at the time. He offered Borowski an instructorship of composition and violin at his school, and Borowski moved to Chicago in 1897 and lived there until his death. From 1916 to 1925 he was the president of the Chicago Musical College and from 1937 to 1942 was Professor of Musicology at Northwestern University. In 1905 he became music reviewer for the Musical Courier. Later he served in similar posts with the Chicago Evening Post, Chicago Record-Herald, the Christian Science Monitor, and in 1942 he became music editor of the Chicago Sun. He was for 48 years the author of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's program notes, starting in 1908. As a composer, Borowski wrote three symphonies, tone poems, a piano concerto, three string quartets, three ballets, one opera, organ works, and numerous pieces for piano, violin, and voice.

Borowski married former violin student Edith Frances Grant of Aberdeen, Scotland in 1897 and had two children, Olga and Leopold. Grant died in 1916. Borowski then married Elsa Kanne of Peoria, IL (another violin student of his) in 1920, and the two lived happily in Chicago until Borowski's death on Sept. 6, 1956. Elsa Borowski died April 23, 1981.


11 Linear Feet (9 boxes and 6 oversize boxes)

0.3 Linear Feet (22 phonographic records, 6 open reels, 1 cd)


Correspondence, writings, photographs, sound recordings, clippings scrapbooks, and some biographical material documenting the life of Felix Borowski, Chicago composer, musicologist, critic for the Chicago Evening Post and Herald, and music bibliographer for the Newberry Library. The papers include letters from prominent American and European composers such as Mili Balakirev, Edvard Grieg, Paul Hindemith, John Alden Carpenter, and John Philip Sousa. There is also a substantial body of love letters written between Felix and his second wife, Elsa (Kanne) Borowski.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Correspondence - Outgoing, 1923-1949
Box 1
Series 2: Correspondence - Incoming, 1894-1957
Box 1
Series 3: Works, 1928-1956
Boxes 2-4; 12-17
Series 4: Personal and Miscellaneous, 1878-1968
Boxes 5-6
Series 5: Family Materials, 1841-1995
Boxes 6-8
Series 6: Photographs, 1860s-1970s, bulk 1890-1956
Boxes 8-10
Series 7: Sound Recordings, ca. 1945-1954
audiovisual boxes (restricted)

Collection Stack Location

1 6 4-5


Gift, Elsa Borowski, ca. 1981. Addition by Amy Bernhard, 2013.

Processed by

Alison Hinderliter, 2007.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the Felix Borowski Papers, 1841-1995, bulk 1896-1956
Alison Hinderliter
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 8/6/2011: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.
  • 2023-03-02: Audiovisual materials have been permanently removed from the collection for preservation. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States