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Frank H. Damrosch


Centurion, 1897–1937

Full Name Frank Heino Damrosch

Born 22 June 1859 in Wrocław, Poland

Died 22 October 1937 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York

Proposed by Charles Stewart Smith and R. Swain Gifford

Elected 2 October 1897 at age thirty-eight

Archivist’s Note: Brother of Walter Damrosch; brother-in-law of Henry T. Seymour; father-in-law of John Tee-Van; grandfather of Douglas S. Damrosch; great-uncle of Blaine Littell, Walter D. Littell, and Elena Mannes

Proposer of:

Century Memorial

Frank Heino Damrosch’s musical achievement was so far overtopped in public distinction by that of his younger brother Walter as to obscure in the minds of many Centurions Frank’s real service. Godson of Franz Liszt, for whom he was named, he did not adopt music as a profession until his twenty-seventh year; even then his first position, which he filled for half a dozen years, was only that of Chorus-Master at the Metropolitan Opera House. His first individual achievement was organization of groups of wage-earners into the People’s Choral Union; he conducted it for twenty-one years at Cooper Union. About the same time he formed the Musical Art Society, composed of trained singers who for more than twenty years gave New York music-lovers opportunity of hearing, for the first time, adequate performances of the great masters of Capella choral writing, from Palestrina to Brahms. During several years he acted as Director of Music in the public schools, and greatly raised their musical standards. Succeeding his brother Walter, he conducted the Young People’s Concerts and for many years the New York Oratorio Society. Perhaps his crowning achievement was his establishment in 1905 of the Institute of Musical Art, with a faculty of unprecedented distinction, into which he brought such artists as the Kneisel Quartet performers, Etelka Gerster, and Georg Henschel. It marked a new era for musical education in America. Until his retirement because of failing health in 1933, Damrosch had served New York half a century in promoting its musical art and culture. Always frail physically, he was nevertheless an intrepid mountaineer; also an enthusiastic navigator of sail-boats during his holidays at Seal Harbor.

Alexander Dana Noyes
1938 Century Association Yearbook