Elizabeth A. H. Green
2000 WBDI Hall of Fame Inductee
Elizabeth Green was born August 21, 1906 to Albert and Mary Green in Mobile, Alabama. In 1919 her family moved to Wheaton, Illinois where she attended Wheaton Academy and Wheaton High School. Classes taken at Wheaton College Conservatory met music requirements for Bachelor of Music degree by 1924. She subsequently joined the college faculty teaching violin.
Her zeal for life and learning has blended harmoniously with a distinguished music career full of surprises. At the age of nine, she announced emphatically that she "would never teach." More than 70 years later, she is recognized as one of the most important and highly esteemed teachers of stringed instruments and conducting in America. Her books are used in classrooms of major universities, and her associations with some of the greatest violinists and conductors in the world still put her in high demand as a lecturer. "Well," she comments ironically, her voice always sparkling with laughter, "I guess the Lord knew differently."
Elizabeth Green ‘28 never questioned her love for the violin, however. Taught by her father, Albert Green, Wheaton Conservatory's first director, she gave her first public performance at age five. By the time she reached high school, "she was playing rings around me," remembers lifelong friend, Leslie Blasius, a Conservatory graduate in 1923. "She had outstanding, remarkable technique at such an early age."
Elizabeth remembers her years at Wheaton as being "the strongest influence in my life," not only as a teacher and writer, but in her faith as well. "I owe the depth of my religion to Wheaton."
Green finished her music degree requirements at Wheaton before she finished high school. She was allowed to "walk down the aisle" for the 1923 graduation ceremonies, but since she hadn't completed the academic requirements for her degree, she stayed on at Wheaton until 1928 when she received a B.S. in philosophy with a minor in physics. Her continued musical studies included viola with Clarence Evans, principal violist with the Chicago Symphony, and violin with Jacques Gordon, concert-master, also with the Symphony.
After Wheaton, Elizabeth took on the formidable task of teaching stringed instruments in the Waterloo, Iowa, public schools and organizing the Waterloo Symphony in which she performed. By 1939, she had also completed her master of music degree from Northwestern University.
Impressed with the awards her students were winning at state and national orchestral festivals, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor presented Green a new challenge. In 1942 she was invited to teach the orchestral program for the Ann Arbor public schools. Accepting the challenge, Green transformed the Ann Arbor High School "orchestra" from a struggling nine-member group into a 60-piece symphony, then left the public schools in 1954 to teach full-time at the University for the next 20 years, rising from Instructor to Professor during her time.
Green retired from the stage in 1974. With a little time on her hands, she decided to pursue a lifetime love of painting and earned a fine arts degree from Eastern Michigan University. Green died September 4, 1995.
Author: Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections staff