Damrosch, Leopold, 1832-1885

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1832-10-22
Death 1885-02-15
Germans
English, German

Biographical notes:

German-American violinist, conductor, and composer.

From the description of Autograph letter signed, dated : New York, 21 October 1878, to S.M. Knevals, 1878 Oct. 21. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270565339

From the description of Autograph letter signed, dated : New York, 7 February 1873, to S. Kauffmann, Frabrikbesitzer in Breslau, 1873 Feb. 7. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270565335

The Damrosch family is a German-American family of musicians that includes Leopold Damrosch, Frank Damrosch and Walter Damrosch. Leopold Damrosch was a violinist, conductor and composer educated in Posen, his native city (now Poznań, Poland), and Berlin. He became a pupil of Hubert Ries, S.W. Dehn and Böhmer. In 1857 Liszt appointed him leading violinist in the court orchestra at Weimar. While there, he married the singer Helene von Heimburg. In 1858-60 he became conductor of the Breslau Philharmonic Society and in 1862 he organized the Orchesterverein of Breslau of which he remained director until 1871. In that year Damrosch was called to New York to become conductor of the Arion Society, a post he held until 1883. In 1873 he founded the Oratorio Society, and in 1878, the Symphony Society of New York. He introduced Wagner's operas and many large choral works to New York audiences. In 1880 he received the Doctor of Music degree from Columbia College. In 1884-85 he was a manager of the Metropolitan Opera and presented a "German" season which consisted primarily of German operas and some Italian operas sung in German. Six days before the end of the season, he died, and his son, Walter, and the chorusmaster, John Lund, conducted the remaining performances.

Frank Damrosch, the oldest son of Leopold and Helene, was a conductor and teacher. He went to New York with his family in 1871, having studied composition and piano as a child. He first went into business in Denver, but soon devoted himself to music, founding the Denver Chorus Club in 1882 and being appointed supervisor of music in the Denver public schools in 1884. After the death of his father he became chorus master at the Metropolitan Opera, where he remained until 1892. In that year he organized the People's Singing Classes in New York for instruction in sightreading and choral singing; from this he developed in 1894 the People's Choral Union, with a mainly working class membership of 500. He directed both groups until 1909. He also founded in 1893 the Musical Art Society of New York and conducted it until it disbanded in 1920. In 1897-1905 he became supervisor of music in the New York public schools. He served as conductor of the Oratorio Society in 1898-1912, succeeding his brother Walter, and presented a series of symphony concerts for young people. At various times he conducted choral societies in towns near New York, but resigned most of these posts to found in 1905 the Institute of Musical Art. He was its director until 1926, when it merged with the Juilliard Graduate School to form the Juilliard School of Music; he then served as dean until 1933. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree by Yale University in 1904.

From the description of Damrosch - Tee Van collection, 1856-1969 (bulk 1870-1939). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71129925

Biographical Sketch

The Damrosch family immigrated to America from Breslau, Germany in 1871. Leopold Damrosch (1832-1885), the family patriarch, was a violinist, conductor, and composer who was educated in Posen, his native city, and in Berlin. In 1857, Franz Liszt appointed him lead violinist in the court orchestra at Weimar. While there, he married the singer Helene von Heimburg. In 1860, he toured with Hans von Bülow and Karl Tausig and, in 1862, organized the Breslau Philharmonic Society. He came to America in 1871 to conduct the Arion Society, a men's choral group. In 1873, he founded the Oratorio Society of New York and, in 1878, the Symphony Society of New York. He introduced Wagner's operas, Berlioz's Damnation of Faust, and other large choral works to New York audiences; many of these were American premieres. In 1880, Columbia College conferred on him the Doctor of Music degree. During the 1884-85 season, he became a manager of the Metropolitan Opera and presented a "German" season which consisted primarily of German operas and some Italian operas sung in German. Six days before the end of the season, he died and his son, Walter, and the chorusmaster, John Lund, conducted the remaining performances. Walter conducted the tour of the Damrosch Grand Opera Company which followed the Metropolitan Opera season.

Frank Damrosch (1859-1937), the oldest son of Leopold and Helene, was a conductor and teacher. He began his musical studies as a child in Breslau and continued them in New York City. Later, he left City College and found work in various non-musical jobs. In 1879, he went to Denver, Colorado to see what business opportunities existed there; eventually, he abandoned the business world and devoted himself to music. He became conductor of the Denver Chorus Club, supervisor of music in public schools, and organist and choir director for several churches and a synagogue. After Leopold's death in 1885, he returned to New York City and served as conductor of the Newark Harmonic Society and chorus master and assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera until 1891. In 1892, he organized and conducted the People's Choral Union for which he published a Popular Method of Sight Singing . He founded and conducted the Musical Art Society of New York, a small professional chorus. From 1897 to 1905 he was supervisor of music in the New York City public schools. He succeeded his brother Walter as conductor of the Oratorio Society from 1898-1912. In 1904, he received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Yale University. In 1905, he founded the Institute of Musical Art and was its director until 1926, when it merged with the Juilliard Graduate School to become the Juilliard School of Music of which he served as dean until 1933.

Wilda Heiss, Music Specialist Margaret Collins, Library Technician, July 1994

From the guide to the Damrosch - Tee Van Collection, 1856-1969, (bulk 1870-1939), (Music Division Library of Congress)

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http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6z32562
Ark ID:
w6z32562
SNAC ID:
17399130

Subjects:

  • Song of Solomon (Music)
  • Choruses, Secular (Women's voices, 4 parts) with piano
  • Choruses, Sacred (Mixed voices) with orchestra--Scores
  • Songs (High voice) with piano
  • Choruses, Secular (Men's voices, 4 parts), Unaccompanied
  • Violin with orchestra--Scores
  • Concertos (Violin)--Solo with piano
  • Violin and piano music--Scores
  • Concertos (Violin)--Scores
  • Hymns, German
  • Musical sketches
  • Music--Manuscripts
  • Choruses, Secular (Men's voices, 4 parts) with instrumental ensemble--Scores
  • Oratorios--scores
  • Psalms (Music)--150th psalm
  • Operas--Cadenzas
  • Concertos (Clarinet)--Cadenzas
  • Kyrie eleison (Music)
  • Choruses, Secular (Men's voices, 8 parts), Unaccompanied
  • Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices, 4 parts) unaccompanied
  • Psalms (Music)--9th Psalm
  • Symphonies--Scores
  • Brass ensembles--Scores
  • Vocal duets with piano
  • Choruses, Sacred (Mixed voices, 4 parts), Unaccompanied
  • Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices) with orchestra--Scores
  • Tarantellas
  • Songs (medium voice) with piano
  • Songs (Medium voice) with orchestra--Scores
  • Piano music (4 hands), Arranged

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

not available for this record