University of Michigan. University Musical Society.

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[See the history in the finding aid for University Musical Society (University of Michigan) Records.]

From the guide to the University Musical Society (University of Michigan) publications, 1874-2010, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)

The University Musical Society was organized in 1879 by members of the university faculty called together by University President Henry S. Frieze. In 1881 it was incorporated as a nonprofit educational corporation. The society twice extended its corporate existence. In 1969 it was reincorporated "in perpetuity."

The society states that its purpose is to, in part, "cultivate the public taste for music and afford opportunities for the acquisition of musical knowledge and skill..." Affiliated with it, but technically governed by separate boards, were the Choral Union, the University Orchestra and the Ann Arbor School of Music. Despite their technical independence, in reality interlocking directorships led to a situation in which members of the UMS Board of Directors administered the various subordinate units.

In 1892 this situation was formally recognized. The independent governing boards of the Choral Union, Orchestra, and School of Music were disbanded and all three institutions came directly under the jurisdiction of the UMS directors. The school's name was changed to the University School of Music, and funds were raised for the construction of a building for the school.

The Choral Union itself was an outgrowth of the Messiah Club and consisted of singers from several Ann Arbor churches as well as the university community. This organization has continued its traditional Messiah performances as well as participation in May Festival concerts.

In 1893 it was proposed that the society's concert series close with a festival of three concerts rather than with a single event as had been the custom. The three-day event was a great success and, in 1894, the May Festival became an annual occurrence.

While always closely associated with the university, the UMS was and remains technically independent from the control of the Board of Regents. Generally satisfactory, this situation proved troublesome regarding musical education. In 1905 the Regents authorized Michigan students to perform accredited studies at the UMS-governed University School of Music. In 1929 the regents and UMS agreed that the University School of Music should become a component part of the University of Michigan, however the school would continue to be administratively under the control of the UMS Board of Directors whose decisions would be subject to the approval of the regents.

In 1940 the University Musical Society relinquished all rights and responsibilities regarding the School of Music to the regents of the University of Michigan who agreed to assume full responsibility for the school's operation. This separation was both legal and physical as the society left its offices in the School of Music to occupy offices on the first floor of Burton Memorial Tower.

The Choral Union Series, begun in 1889, has served as the major series of concerts presented by the UMS. Presentations have included major orchestras and artists from around the world. The Philadelphia Orchestra began a tenure with the May Festival in 1936, an association which lasted until 1984. Interest in presenting an expanded base of concerts led to the establishment of the Chamber Arts Series in 1963 which focused on chamber music. A Summer Concert Series took place from 1964 to 1971.

In 1960 the University Musical Society recommended changes to Hill Auditorium to allow for an orchestra pit and proscenium which would make possible the introduction of ethnic folk dance, ballet and opera presentations as well. These performances also took place in Rackham Auditorium and, beginning in 1971, the Power Center for the Performing Arts.

In addition to the above series, the University Musical Society also sponsors special (non-subscription) concerts. Among these have been special recitals by Arthur Rubenstein, Marian Anderson, and Vladimir Horowitz. The University Musical Society and School of Music have also sponsored benefit concerts for the School of Music featuring artists of international repute with the University Symphony. Many world premieres of choral and orchestral works have been commissioned by the University Musical Society and performed by the Choral Union.

In the 1980s and 1990s the University Musical Society faced the challenge of the increasing costs of performances and of the need to raise a considerable portion of the operating budget through gifts. The latter led to an expansion in the development efforts of the staff. There was also a perceived need to offer a more varied choice of performances in order to attract patrons of all ages and musical taste. The work space occupied by the UMS, Burton Tower, and Hill Auditorium, its major venue, were both in need of renovation. Changes and activities documented in the 1990-1998 accession include the demise of the May Festival and the beginning of the Distinguished Artist Award--the last May Festival took place in 1995; the Distinguished Artist Award was first awarded in May 1996--and the development of a renovation plan for Hill Auditorium. The plan was approved by the Regents in September 1990 and fund raising began as part of the university's Capital Campaign.

  • 1879 - 1881 : Henry S. Frieze
  • 1881 - 1883 : Alexander Winchell
  • 1883 - 1889 : Henry S. Frieze
  • 1889 - 1891 : Alexander Winchell
  • 1891 - 1927 : Francis W. Kelsey
  • 1927 - 1968 : Charles A. Sink
  • 1968 - 1987 : Gail W. Rector
  • 1987 - : Kenneth Fischer

From the guide to the University Musical Society (University of Michigan) Records, 1879-2009, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Francis Willey Kelsey Papers, 1891-1953 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Charles A. Sink Papers, 1890s-1996 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf University of Michigan. University Musical Society. University Musical Society (University of Michigan) visual material series. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Alexander Winchell Papers, 1833-1891 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf University Musical Society (University of Michigan) Records, 1879-2009 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Charles A. Sink autographed photograph collection, 1894-1972 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf University of Michigan. University Musical Society. Correspondence with Eugene Ormandy, 1977-1984. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Sink, Charles A. (Charles Albert), 1879-1972. Charles Albert Sink papers, 1907-1996. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Risenhoover, Morris. "Just lookin' for a home" : the affiliation in 1929 of an incorporated school of music with the University of Michigan, 1969. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Francis Willey Kelsey Papers, 1891-1953 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Sink, Charles A. (Charles Albert), 1879-1972. Charles Albert Sink papers, 1907-1985. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf University of Michigan. University Musical Society. University Musical Society (University of Michigan) records, 1879-1975. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Winchell, Alexander, 1824-1891. Alexander Winchell papers, 1833-1891. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf University Musical Society (University of Michigan) publications, 1874-2010 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Rector, Gail Wesley, 1918-. Gail W. Rector paper, 1982-1983. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Thomas Hilbish papers, 1937-2004, 1960-1990 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Levine, James, 1943-. Correspondence from Eugene Ormandy, 1975-1983. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Hilbish, Thomas. Thomas Hilbish papers, 1937-2004. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Vera Zorina papers, 1910-2001 (inclusive), 1933-2001 (bulk). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Francis Willey Kelsey Papers, 1891-1953 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf University of Michigan. University Musical Society. University Musical Society (University of Michigan records, 1879-1975. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf University of Michigan. University Musical Society. University Musical Society (University of Michigan) records, 1879-2004. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alcantara, Theo. person
associatedWith Ann Arbor May Festival. corporateBody
associatedWith Arroyo, Martina. person
associatedWith Bampton, Rose E. person
associatedWith Berberian, Ara. person
associatedWith Berv, Harry. person
associatedWith Blegen, Judith. person
associatedWith Britton, Allen Perdue. person
associatedWith Carol, Norman. person
associatedWith Ceccato, Aldo. person
associatedWith Entremont, Philippe. person
associatedWith Fairlane (Dearborn, Mich.) corporateBody
associatedWith Firkušný, Rudolf, 1912-1994. person
associatedWith Fischer, Kenneth M. person
associatedWith Fischer, Kenneth M. person
associatedWith Forrester, Maureen. person
associatedWith Francescatti, Zino, 1902-1991. person
associatedWith Gorodetzer, Harry. person
associatedWith Graffman, Gary. person
associatedWith Graffman, Naomi. person
associatedWith Harlow, Richard. person
associatedWith Henry S. Frieze Memorial Organ Fund (University of Michigan) corporateBody
associatedWith Henry S. Frieze Memorial Organ Fund (University of Michigan) corporateBody
associatedWith Henry S. Frieze Memorial Organ Fund (University of Michigan) corporateBody
associatedWith Hilbish, Thomas corporateBody
associatedWith Hilbish, Thomas. person
associatedWith Hill Auditorium (University of Michigan) corporateBody
associatedWith Hill Auditorium (University of Michigan) corporateBody
associatedWith Hill Auditorium (University of Michigan) corporateBody
associatedWith Hines, Jerome, 1921-2003. person
associatedWith Jepson, Helen, 1904-1997. person
associatedWith Jones, Mason. person
associatedWith Kelsey, Francis W. (Francis Willey), b. 1858. person
associatedWith Krachmalnick, Jacob. person
associatedWith Krell, John C. person
associatedWith Larrocha, Alicia de. person
associatedWith Levine, James, 1943- person
associatedWith Mayes, Samuel H. person
associatedWith McComas, Donald E. person
associatedWith Menuhin, Yehudi, 1916-1999. person
associatedWith Merrill, Robert, 1917-2004. person
associatedWith Milnes, Sherrill. person
associatedWith Montoya, Carlos. person
associatedWith Moore, Earl V. person
associatedWith Munsel, Patrice, 1925- person
associatedWith Muti, Riccardo. person
associatedWith Nilsson, Birgit. person
associatedWith Norman, Jessye. person
associatedWith Owen, Charles. person
associatedWith Perlman, Itzhak, 1945- person
associatedWith Pfeuffer, Robert J. person
associatedWith Rector, Gail W. person
associatedWith Rector, Gail Wesley, 1918- person
associatedWith Revelli, William D. 1902-1994. person
associatedWith Risenhoover, Morris. person
associatedWith Roman, Stella. person
associatedWith Royal Shakespeare Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Rushdie, Salman. person
associatedWith Sándor, György, 1912-2005. person
associatedWith Santarlasci, Joseph H. person
associatedWith Sayão, Bidú. person
associatedWith Serkin, Rudolf, 1903-1991. person
associatedWith Sills, Beverly. person
associatedWith Sink, Alva Gordon. person
associatedWith Sink, Alva Joanna Gordon. person
associatedWith Sink, Alva Joanna Gordon. person
associatedWith Sink, Charles A. 1879-1972. person
associatedWith Skrowaczewski, Stanisław, 1923- person
associatedWith Sokoloff, Boris, 1912- person
associatedWith Stanley, Albert A. 1851-1932. person
associatedWith Steber, Eleanor. person
associatedWith Stern, Isaac, 1920-2001. person
associatedWith Stevens, Risë, 1913- person
associatedWith Talvela, Martti. person
associatedWith Torchinsky, Abe. person
associatedWith University of Michigan corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Choral Union. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. School of Music. corporateBody
associatedWith Warfield, William. person
associatedWith Welitsch, Ljuba. person
associatedWith Williams, Ralph G. person
associatedWith Winchell, Alexander, 1824-1891. person
correspondedWith Zorina, Vera. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Michigan--Ann Arbor
Michigan--Ann Arbor
Michigan--Ann Arbor
Subject
Musicians--Michigan--Ann Arbor
Music
Music--Michigan--Ann Arbor
Musicians
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Active 1879

Active 1975

English,

German

Information

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