E00731. Thomas, Theodore - unsigned early 5x7 oval photo
“Theodore Thomas received his musical education principally from his father, who was a violinist of ability, and at the age of six years he played the violin in public concerts. In 1845 he came to this country with his parents, and for two years played violin solos at concerts in New York city.
Subsequently he joined the orchestra of an Italian opera company, and visited most of the large cities of the country. He then became first violin in the orchestra that accompanied Jenny Lind in 1850, Henrietta Sontag in 1852, and Guilietta Grisi and Giuseppi Mario in 1854, and finally became conductor of both German and Italian operas. Mr. Thomas also led the orchestras that accompanied La Grange, Piccolomini, and Thalberg through the country. After 1861 he devoted himself to the organization of his own orchestra, and began at Irving hall in 1864 a series of symphony concerts that came to be regarded as among the musical institutions of New York City, and were continued until 1878. In 1866 he began his summer-night concerts in Terrace garden, which were continued at the Central Park garden. In order to keep his orchestra together, he travelled with it during the winter season. At these concerts he introduced Wagner's music to the American people, and to him, more than to any one else in this country, is due the [contemporaneous] appreciation of the modern school of German music. In 1872 he was the leading spirit in founding the New York Wagner Union, which was established for the purpose of aiding in the festival performance of the RING at Bayreuth in 1875, and he organized the chorus society which gave the Wagner memorial concert after the death of the composer. Mr. Thomas accepted in 1878 the directorship of the newly established College of music in Cincinnati, Ohio, but he resigned that post in 1881. He joined the Philharmonic Society in 1853, but in 1858 resigned his membership. He was conductor of the American opera company in 1885-'7, and in the same years organized a series of popular concerts in New York city. During the summer of 1888 he gave a series of concerts in Chicago, at the close of which he disbanded his orchestra, saying that, as New York city failed to provide a suitable hall, a permanent orchestra was impossible.”