1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Thomas, Theodore

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4110191911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 26 — Thomas, Theodore

THOMAS, THEODORE} (1835–1905), American musician, was born in Esens, Germany, on the 11th of October 1835. His early musical training was received chiefly from his father. At the age of five he made his first public appearance as a violinist. In 1845 he was taken to America by his parents, and became first violin in the orchestra that accompanied Jenny Lind in 1850, Sontag in 1852 and Grisi and Mario in 1854. In 1862 he began to organize his own orchestra, and from 1864 to 1878 were performed a series of symphony concerts inaugurated by him in Irving Hall, which were regarded as one of the great musical institutions of New York City. His “summer night” concerts begun in 1866 in Terrace Garden were continued in Central Park. From 1855 to 1868 he took part in a series of chamber music concerts in New York. In the latter year his orchestra made its first tour, and continued to give concerts in various American cities until it was disbanded in 1888. To Theodore Thomas is largely due the popularization of Wagner’s works in America, and it was he who founded the Wagner union in 1872. During most of the seasons from 1877 to 1891 he was conductor of the New York Philharmonic Society, and from 1862 to 1891, of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Society. He was director of the Cincinnati College of Music (1878–1879), conductor of the American Opera Company (1886–1887), and for more than thirty years (1873–1904) the conductor of the biennial May festivals at Cincinnati. In 1891 he removed to Chicago, and became the conductor of the Chicago Orchestra; in 1893 he was musical director of the Columbian Exposition. He died on the 4th of January 1905.