This website is dedicated to Professor Arlene Cole who passed away in August 2022. The site’s content has been organized by the Brown University Department of Music, but it is a virtual space where all family, friends, students, and colleagues are welcome to share memories and media and celebrate Arlene’s incredible life. If you wish to share your story about Arlene, please write to music@brown.edu, include your statement, your name, and your connection to Arlene. Attach any photos you would like us to include. Thank you.


photo of Arlene Cole

About Arlene

Arlene Toshiko Matsuoka Cole, Brown University Assistant Professor of the Practice of Music, retired in 2021 after a rich career at the University spanning over 50 years and encompassing performance, teaching, and arranging visiting artist recitals and masterclasses.

Her devotion to students’ academic and personal development was incomparable. She had a way of making her packed classrooms feel like family gatherings. Over the years, one could find her on campus any day of the week or weekend, giving piano lessons or helping students with music theory and keyboard skills. A number of students chose Brown because they heard about her exceptional teaching and dedication. Students loved and revered her, and in many ways she was the beating heart of the Department of Music. An alumnus recently put it plainly: “Arlene Cole is the Music Department.”

Professor Cole taught rigorous advanced musicianship courses, music theory labs, and theory courses, providing a foundation for students to follow their musical ambitions. As Director of the Applied Music Program for Keyboard, she taught and managed the teaching of individual keyboard lessons and organized visiting artist recitals and masterclasses. She planned and presided over the annual Jagolinzer concert with grace and pride. The annual student recital occurring on Family Weekend has been renamed to The Arlene Cole Brunch Recital in her honor.

Arlene was born in Camp Jerome, Arkansas on May 26, 1943, to James Matsuoka and Dassie Matsuoka nee Yasunaga. She grew up in Cleveland and attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, then received her Bachelor’s in Music from Eastman School of Music, studying with Orazio Frugoni and David Burge. She went on to obtain her Masters of Music from Yale School of Music. It was there, studying with teachers such as Donald Currier and Seymore Fink, that she wrote her masters dissertation, “Major Piano Sonatas of American Composers,” focusing on the sonatas of Samuel Barber and Aaron Copland. Always striving for excellence, she would later study with Sacha Gorodnitsky at The Juilliard School. From there she held professional appointments in Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts, before coming to Brown in 1970.

Arlene is survived by her husband Brian, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Brown, daughter Geraldine of Providence, son Elliot of Boston, and her beloved dog, Leya.


The photo shown above is shared here courtesy of the Cole family. To view other lovely family photos of Arlene, please enjoy them in this gallery on Google.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The American Cancer Society or to

Brown University
Music Department
Box 1924
Providence, RI 02912

For donations made to the Brown University Music Department, please enter “Cole Piano Fund” in the memo line.