October 3, 1914
Page 1

Many Celebrities Attend Impressive Ceremony Inaugurating Notable Benefaction of Theodore Presser in Philadelphia—Rev. Herman L. Duhring, Mr. Presser, Mayor Blankenburg, John C. Freund, Dr. Hugh Clark, Charles Heber Clark, Hon. Richmond P. Hobson and Maud Powell the Speakers—David Bispham and Henri Scott the Singers—First Institution of Its Kind in This Country

Philadelphia, September 28, 1914.

IN the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Amen.” With these solemn and impressive words, the venerable Dr. Duhring, head of the City Missions, who is said to have done more good than any other one man in Philadelphia, speaking from a stand covered by the American flag, addressed a little company, consisting of some old ladies, a few newspaper men and noted clergymen, on Friday afternoon.
He told them that they had come together to lay the cornerstone of the Theodore Presser Home for Retired Music Teachers, which stood on time-honored ground in Germantown, and had opened its hospitable doors. He introduced Mr. Presser, who spoke briefly of the realization of his life dream to do something practical and worthy for the music teachers in this country, who had done, during the course of his long business career, so much for him.
The Rev. Mr. Lee, the Rev. Mr. Arndt and Dr. Jennings spoke feelingly of Mr. Presser’s benefaction, and of the value of music to the world’s happiness and uplift.
Then the little company, as they stood on the greensward, repeated the Lord’s Prayer, with bowed heads, sang one verse of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” and the simple ceremony was over.
The box which was inserted in the cornerstone contains several publications, records of Maud Powell’s playing of “Deep River,” arranged from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Schubert’s “Wanderer,” as sung by David Bispham, and “Confutatis Maledictus” from Verdi’s “Requiem Mass,” sung by•Henri Scott, also a record made by Mme. Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler.
Inauguration of the Presser Home
On Saturday afternoon, between three and four hundred of the most noted musicians, music teachers and members of society met in the large dining room of the home to witness the inaugural exercises, which opened with an invocation by the Rev. Herman L. Duhring, who introduced Mr. Presser, who, in a very modest manner, related how he had come to get the idea of building such a home.
He said that of late years a wave of philanthropy had captured the nation. He spoke of the establishment in recent years of public bath houses, infirmaries, municipal bands and charitable institutions of all kinds
“A year of jubilee,” said he, “comes to every man when he can return something of that which he has accumulated, to the original owners. The building of this home was made possible through the commercial support of music teachers during the past half century. The day has now come for me to return to the music teachers, in a measure what belonged to them.
“In this home the music teacher will find a haven of rest, for there will be no caste or sect distinction. The humble teacher who has labored faithfully in a village is as welcome as the metropolitan teacher who once thrilled thousands in the concert room.
“This enterprise is not an individual hobby of my own. It is in accordance with the spirit of the times. When a man has accumulated enough for his own wants and for the satisfaction of those who are dependent upon him, the question arises as to what he shall do with his surplus. Shall he employ it for his individual pleasure, or shall he devote it to help others?
“Often this problem of the surplus is a serious one. In Cleveland they have solved it by forming a fund, to which those who feel they have a surplus can contribute. Their fund amounts already to twenty-five million dollars.
“This home has been built by me, in a sense, but in reality it has been built by the music teachers.
“Eight years ago we began the experiment and started a home for music teachers. We gradually got a few deserving ones together, and the idea grew. I went over to Italy to see the Verdi home for musicians, for the purpose of getting points, so that we might have right here in our city of Philadelphia something beautiful, something worthy of our music teachers.
”There are several hundred thousand music teachers in the United States, so that many such institutions are needed, and I hope to live to see some of, them founded.”
Mr. Presser was followed by Mayor Blankenburg of Philadelphia, who in a most kindly and sympathetic address spoke of the time when, as a boy, he had played on the very grounds where they were. He said that no city had so many worthy benefactions as the City of Brotherly Love.
He said he had come, not alone to express his deep sense of Mr. Presser’s generosity, but to speak on behalf of the whole city of Philadelphia a few words of appreciation of the splendid work which Mr. Presser had done in erecting this building.
After the Mayor came David Bispham, who introduced his songs in a brief but brilliant defense of the position of those who insist that we should have opera, as well as songs, in English.
Among the selections sung by Mr. Bispham, who was in splendid voice, was the Prologue to “Pagliacci,” of which he gave a very interesting description. As an encore Mr. Bispham sang the ever popular “Danny Deever.”
The next speaker was Dr. Hugh A. Clark, the venerable professor of music in the University• of Pennsylvania, and to-day the oldest member of the faculty, for this distinguished musician has been connected with the university for nearly forty years.
Dr. Clark spoke of the uncertainty of the livelihood gained in teaching music. He pointed out that it was the first activity to feel business depression, the last to recover. Its fees were small and often grudgingly given. When a teacher, therefore, after years of usefulness, found himself no longer able to cope with these conditions he would find a haven in the Presser Home.
He spoke of the many music teachers who were working so faithfully in the small country places, and told a story of one young girl who was working hard and who bitterly felt the lack of opportunity for self-improvement.
He said few people realized the devotion and the value of the work done by the music teachers, especially in the smaller places.
After Dr. Clark had spoken Henri Scott,.the eminent basso, sang with splendid voice and in a most artistic manner an excerpt from “Simon Boccanegra,” and later one from Massenet’s “Le Cid.”
Then John C. Freund, the Editor of MUSICAL AMERICA, made an address. He started out by saying that he had understood that Mr. Presser was a collector. Whereas some people made collections of postage stamps, bric-a-brac or old paintings, Mr. Presser’s particular fad was to make a collection of dear old ladies who had given their lives to the cause of education, though the world had forgotten them.
He said that the event that they had assembled to inaugurate with word and song and prayer marked the first step that had been taken, certainly in the musical world, toward recognizing .the value to the community of the teacher. Upon the work of the teacher depended the character of the race.
He pointed out that Mr. Presser did not build an edifice apart, but had made this institution a part of himself, right here in Germantown, where he had his own home.
In this work Mr. Presser has been inspired and aided by his wife, who in The Presser Home for Retired Music Teachers in Germantown her broad-minded, sympathetic humanitarianism represents the highest type of American womanhood.
It was eminently fitting, said Mr. Freund, that this monument should be erected in the City of Brotherly Love, which gave to the United States the Declaration of Independence, and from which also the Declaration of our Musical Independence a year ago had issued. He said he was proud and honored to be permitted to add his simple tribute to the disinterested philanthropy of Theodore Presser, which showed that, after all, the cause of human progress is promoted, not by a conscienceless, brutal militarism, but by that service of man, by man—which must ever be, man’s highest service to God!
The next speaker was Charles Heber Clark, who under the name of Max Adler has made a national reputation as a writer and humorist. He spoke of his interest as a member of the board of directors in Mr. Presser’s work, for he had seen it grow.
He was followed by the Hon. Richmond P. Hobson, Congressman from Alabama, who expressed his conviction that the work of Mr. Presser marked a new epoch in American musical life, which would mean a more definite provision for the training and recognition of teachers. He said that the nation, being still young, was too self-centered, but that the tragedy in Europe will force our eyes outward and start us on a career of world service. After the war he expected to see an age in art which would overshadow the classic period of Greece and Rome.
“I consider it a privilege to be here,” said Mr. Hobson. “I shall never forget this hour. It is an inspiration to me. I appreciate Mr. Presser’s work and his interest in the music teacher, for I have regarded music as one of the elemental wants of my life.”
The exercises closed with a dedication and benediction given by that great artist and splendid woman, Maud Powell, who, rising from her seat on the platform, said with deep emotion:
“It gives me a thrill of pleasure to have a share in these dedication exercises to-day—to help dedicate this beautiful home, this flower of peace, this munificent gift of Mr. Theodore Presser to my brothers and sisters of the musical profession. It shall stand as an expression of gratitude—of recognition of work bravely and faithfully done. May it breathe of peace and contentment; of comfort, of hospitality and the restfulness that gentle surroundings bring.
“God bless its hospitable roof! God bless its munificent mission! God bless the noble founder and, above all, bless those who shall dwell within its hospitable doors, now and always!”
Then the Rev. Dr. Duhring pronounced the benediction. The audience arose, sang “America” and passed out. Later they were entertained at a collation by Mr. and Mrs. Presser.
Features of the Home
It is understood that the building, without the ground on which it stands, and which was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Presser, cost in the neighborhood of $200,000. It will accommodate about one hundred persons. With the endowment it already represents an investment on Mr. Presser’s part of half a million, which is to be increased to a million dollars.
Standing within grounds that are beautifully laid out, with fine shade trees, it is planned, not as an ordinary charitable institution, but as a home.
Each of the residents has a large, tasty and comfortably furnished room. There is a library, large reception rooms, fine music room, spacious dining hall. There is an infirmary and a splendid roof garden.
Any music teacher of good character, who has spent twenty-five years teaching music, who is over sixty-five years of age and needs help is eligible for this home.
Among those prominent in musical affairs who were present were: Mr. and Mrs. Perley Dunn Aldrich, Mrs. Dorothy Johnstone Baseler, John F. Braun, Horatio Connell, Mrs. Hugh A. Clarke, Mrs. Julian Edwards, Louis Dressler, Herwegh von Ende, Ralph Edmunds, Arnold Gantvoort, Miss de Gunther, Adam Geibel, Frederick Hahn, W. Palmer Hoxie, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Kinder, Wassili Leps, John Luther Long, Henry Lukens, Louis Lombard, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley L. Muschamp, H. Alexander Matthews, Frederick Maxson, Miss Annie McDonough, George B. Nevin, Eugenio di Pirani, May Porter, J. M. Priaulx, Katherine Rosenkrantz, Leopold Stokowski, George Chadwick Stock, Robert Patterson Strine, Mr. and Mrs. Henri Scott, Arthur L. Tubbs, Mr and Mrs. H. Godfrey Turner (Mme. Maud Powell), Mrs. David D. Wood and Mme. A. E. Ziegler.
Sketch of Mr. Presser’s Career
Theodore Presser, to-day one of our most prominent as well as successful music publishers, was born in Pittsburgh in 1848. He started to study music when he was still a boy. He was one of the earliest pupils of the New England Conservatory of Music. In 1848 he went to the Conservatory at Leipsic and studied with Jadassohn and Swintsher. He returned to the United States in 1880, and was appointed musical director of the Hollins Institute in Virginia.
In 1878 he organized the Music Teachers’ National Association. After that he began to publish music in Philadelphia.


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