Ellen Ballon Music Collection


About the Ellen Ballon Music Collection

An accomplished concert pianist, Ellen Ballon was a serious reader of works about all aspects of her craft. She assembled a strong personal library of scores and books about music and musicians that aided her in perfecting her technique and gave her insight into the creative intent of the composers. She was also deeply interested in all aspects of creative expression, especially art and literature, and influenced and was influenced by strong friendships with the writers Somerset Maugham, Lloyd Morris, F.R. Scott, Hugh MacLennan; the politicians Wilfrid Laurier and Lester Pearson and sculptors Sally Ryan and Jacob Epstein. The collection consists of 540 piano scores by 195 different composers; 139 books primarily related to music and literature; nine first edition scores of works composed by Chopin and Mendelssohn; fourteen volumes of piano harmony exercise books; and thirty-nine books inscribed to Ellen Ballon.

Collection Highlights

The collection highlight is a copy of   the manuscript of Piano Concerto No. 1 by Heitor Villa-Lobos , which was commissioned by Ellen Ballon in 1945.  Inscribed first editions of the major novels of Somerset Maugham, poetry volumes by F.R. Scott and autobiographical works by Aaron Copland and Sir. Jacob Epstein provide unique insight into Ellen Ballon’s important role as an arts supporter and advocate.


The Ellen Ballon Collection was the first major music collection received to support the newly established music programme at Dalhousie University.  It instantly provided a strong core from which to start building a viable and vital programme in piano music instruction, study and appreciation.

More from Vessels of Light: A Guide to Special Collections in the Killam Libraryby Karen E. M. Smith.