Albert Morris Bagby was born in Rushville, Illinois on April 29, 1859 to Mary Agnes Scripps of Jackson, Missouri and John Courts Bagby from Glasglow, Kentucky. After completing his primary education in the United States, Bagby traveled to Europe to study music. He first studied under Professor Scharwenka at the Berlin Conservatory and later with Franz Liszt in Weimar. Before Bagby died in 1941, he was considered one of the last links to Mr. Liszt. Though never a virtuoso performer himself, Bagby was an ardent admirer and pupil of the great pianist and so devoted his life to the patronage of music and performance. (Time Magazine, March 10, 1941) After returning from Europe, Bagby was invited to give music lectures at various socialite clubs in New York. These lectures, often with piano accompaniment, turned into luxurious concerts. At first Bagby sought to call his recitals "Matinee Musicale," but at the urging of his friend, Miss Louise McAllister, the name was changed to "Musical Morning." (The Unofficial palace of New York, p. 99) The first official Musical Morning was held in 1891 at Bagby's own private studio at 152 W. 57th Street in New York. The concert series was so popular that a larger space was needed. (Emanuel Feuerman, p.89) Bagby refused to rent public music halls, which he felt would destroy the personal and intimate nature of the performance. Fortunately, an ideal site for performance and private society presented itself when a new hotel opened its doors on 5th Avenue and 34th Street. The Waldorf-Astoria (on 34th Street, and then in 1929 its new location) became the new home of Bagby's Musical Morning, remaining so until its end in 1941. (The Unofficial palace of New York, p. 97,100) Following each Musical Morning (which were attended by subscription only), Bagby would host a lunch for a few dozen of his most notable guests. Conversing easily with royalty, socialites and skilled musicians, Bagby became a popular figure in the social life of Europe and America. (Time Magazine, March 10, 1941) Offering performances by almost every distinguished artist in the United States, Bagby succeeded in both providing elite entertainment and funds for The Bagby Music Lovers' Foundation, Inc. The foundation, established at the 300th Musical Morning in January, 1925 was set up to give pensions to elderly musicians as a "reward for their unforgettable service to music." (The Unofficial palace of New York, p. 95, 101) In addition to his life work with Musical Morning, Bagby also traveled to Europe quite extensively, attending performances at Richard Wagner's Bayreuth Festival and visiting friends. While living at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, Bagby received hundreds of letters and postcards from the European royal families who had attended his performances and seen him in Europe. Most of the letters thanked Bagby for his kindness and generous gifts. With most of Europe in turmoil after the Second World War, it was often difficult to purchase books and magazines in English. Bagby, being the generous individual that he was, acted almost as a courier service, sending books, encyclopedias, and subscriptions to National Geographic and The Spur to various European royal families. The missives also contained personal notes about the family's wellbeing, and a request that Bagby visit next time he was in Europe. Besides being a musician, Bagby was also a writer. When he was younger he contributed to various periodicals, and in 1895 published his first novel, a musical romance entitled Miss Traumerei. In 1904 he wrote Mamie Rosie, a fictional account a young musician's journey to stardom. Later in life Bagby gave back to his home town by donating various volumes, statues and paintings to the Rushville Public Library. Albert Morris Bagby died of pneumonia on February 27, 1941 at the age of 81, ending his five decade career as director of Musical Morning. (Time Magazine, March 10, 1941).
From the description of [Albert Morris Bagby collection]. 1890-1960. (Pritzker Military Library). WorldCat record id: 236876955