Damrosch, Frank Heino


The eldest son of the late Dr. Leopold Damrosch, and brother of Walter Damrosch. He was born in Breslau, Prussia, and when a mere youth began his studies in music, being a pupil of Pruckner and Jean Vogt. After his parent's removal to New York, he continued his studies in piano under Von Inten, studying theory and composition with his father and Moszkowski. He went to Denver and entered business life there, but never lost his interest in music. From 1882 to 1885 he was the conductor of the Denver Chorus Club. On his father's death he returned to New York, where his brother Walter was already recognized as a musician and conductor of great promise.

Frank Damrosch chose the life of a teacher, and later that of conductor and trainer of large choral societies. During the regime of German music at the Metropolitan Opera House, from 1885 until 1891, he was chorusmaster, and until 1891 conductor of the Newark Harmonic Society. Frank Damrosch has been called the great democrat among musical directors and has spent an unselfish life in developing a taste for music in America, by training the children of the public schools and the people in the lower walks of life. His first effort in this direction was in 1892, when he organized The People's Choral Union in New York, for the popularization of choral singing, which has borne good fruits and for which he published, in 1894, his Popular Method of Sight Singing. This chorus was composed almost wholly of wage-earners and had a membership of 1200.

In 1897 he was induced to become the supervisor of music in the public schools of New York, and it is said made a large financial sacrifice in accepting this position. Under his direction the singing of the school children vastly improved. In 1905, Mr. Damrosch gave up the work in the schools, but his influence will be felt perhaps for generations. In 1898 he succeeded his brother as conductor of the Oratorio Society of New York, and holds the position at the present time. He has also been conductor of the Musurgia Society of that city; the Oratorio Society of Bridgeport, Connecticut; the Orpheus and Eurydice of Philadelphia; the Mendelssohn Glee Club, since 1905; Symphony concerts for young people, since 1898; and the Musical Art Society, since 1892. Mr. Damrosch is at present the director of the new Institution of Musical Art of New York, for which he has worked unceasingly for years, and which is the realization of all his hopes. The new school is the first American Conservatory of Music organized with the breadth of plan and aim of the best of European institutions. For a year Mr. Damrosch worked at organizing it. He sought and found, in James Loeb, a son of the banker, Soloman Loeb, a man of culture and means to endow the school. Mr. Loeb, subscribed $500,000 for the institution. In October, 1905, its doors were opened and three hundred and fifty pupils were enrolled the first week. It provides the students the highest musical instruction in all branches, and is housed in a beautiful building on Fifth Avenue. A special course for the directors of music in the public schools is one of the features of the Institute. Mr. Damrosch received from Yale, in 1904, the degree of Doctor of Music. He has published only a few compositions, and these being mostly songs and choruses.