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Alexander Kouguell Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SCA-0097

Content Description

The Alexander Kouguell Collection contains personal, performance, and academic records as well as photographic, audio, and music manuscripts. His collection includes scores and music manuscripts; ephemera such as programs, clippings, correspondence, scrapbooks, and photographs depicting Kouguell’s career as a cellist; syllabi, correspondence, photographs, and other materials documenting Kouguell’s role as a long-time member of the Queens College music faculty; family photographs and documents pertaining to Kouguell’s and his family’s early life in the United States after their immigration; and audio recordings of selected Alexander Kouguell performances.


  • circa 1930s to 2010s


Language of Materials

Most of this collection is in English, with limited Performance and Personal and Correspondence papers in French, Armenian, Russian and Spanish. French is also present in a small number of music manuscripts.

Conditions Governing Access

Appointments to examine materials must be made in advance. Please email for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproductions may be provided to users to support research and scholarship. However, collection use is subject to all copyright laws. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Biographical / Historical

Alexander Kouguell was a Russian-American cellist born in in Simferopol, Crimea on March 27, 1920. At the time Crimea was experiencing the Russian Civil War of 1918–20, and was then reorganized as the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1921. Alexander was the first child of Arkadie and Maria Kouguell (née Malinskaya), and was followed by his siblings Rosemarie and Maurice. Both his parents were graduates of the St. Petersburg Conservatory and pianists, with his father also being a conductor and composer. Kouguell’s family immigrated when he was 2 years old to Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) then Beirut, and briefly Paris throughout his childhood and early adulthood, but he spent the majority of his time in Beirut. He graduated from The Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris in 1939 with a secondary education bachelor's in philosophy and a certificate in cello performance, The American University in Beirut in 1941 with a bachelor's degree in English and a master’s degree in French, and from Columbia University with a doctoral degree in comparative literature in 1948. He took a position at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland in 1948 and left after one year due to the uncertainty of a second season.

In September of 1949, Kouguell became a professor at Queens College at Leo Kraft’s recommendation. He taught at Queens College until his retirement in 1990, but continued to teach part-time until 2017 as a professor emeritus for a career spanning over 68 years. He was an internationally renowned cellist, having played in France, Brazil, Argentina, Lebanon, Russia, and Armenia among other countries. Primarily a chamber musician, Kouguell played with the New York Chamber Soloists, the Silvermine Quartet, and was the principal cellist at the Musica Aeterna Orchestra and Clarion Concerts Orchestra for 28 years. In addition to this, he played smaller concerts throughout the New York area, including many for the Free Synagogue of Flushing.

At age 27, Alexander Kouguell married Florence Kouguell (nee Lyman) from Washington, D.C. and had two sons, Arthur Kouguell and Ray Kouguell. At Queens College, he and his wife established the Alexander and Florence Kouguell Cello Award at Queens College, which provides scholarship funding to undergraduate cellists who have demonstrated excellence in solo performance, orchestral playing or chamber music. Alexander Kouguell passed away in October 2022 at age 102 at his home in Flushing, NY.


12 Linear Feet (5 records cartons, 3 document cases, 2 half document cases, 6 flat boxes, and 2 small photo boxes. )


The Alexander Kouguell Papers chronicle Alexander Kouguell's (1920-2022) personal life, career, and 68-year tenure at Queens College. The collection contains personal, performance, and academic records as well as photographic, audio, and music manuscripts. A noted cellist, Kouguell's papers detail his career as a performer, an educator, and provide researchers cultural snapshots of the greater New York area's orchestral scene throughout the 20th century.


The Alexander Kouguell collection papers are arranged in the following series: Personal and Correspondence; Performance Records; Queens College Papers; Music Manuscripts; Photographs; Audio Recordings.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was gifted to Queens College by Professor Alexander Kouguell in the Summer of 2022. Materials were transferred from the studio in Kouguell's home, just a block from the Queens College campus, where he lived for many decades.

Related Materials

Alexander Kouguell gave an oral history for Queens College's Memory Project:

Arkadie Kouguell, Alexander's father, has a collection of music manuscripts and records at the YIVO archive:

Condition Description

Collection includes cassette tapes and magnetic tapes. Cassette tapes are in the process of being digitized for access. Magnetic tapes will remain inaccessible until resources are available for digital transfer.

Processing Information

This project was made possible through a Rare Books and Manuscripts Fellowship funded by Shirley Klein.

Alexander Kouguell Papers
In Progress
Finding aid written by Pamela Padilla, 2022.
April, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Special Collections and Archives Repository

Queens College Library, CUNY
Benjamin Rosenthal Library RO317
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing 11367 USA us