August 10, 1918
Page 9
What Music Means to Adolph Lewisohn, Patron Saint of the Stadium Series

A Sensitive and Broadly Cultured Lover of All That Is Beautiful Is This Financier and Public Benefactor—Views Music as Summertime Essential—Finds Concerts Are Attended by Deeply Appreciative Audiences—His Career

NO more appropriate setting could be imagined for the activities of a man with a great outlook on the two worlds of art and of finance than the office of Adolph Lewisohn. High up above the howl of lower Broadway, it looks out on the incessant, calm activity of ferry-boat and barge and tug. The low-toned beauty of gray river, smudgy mist and steely smoke-cloud is shot through with a gleam of scarlet from a passing flag; a shaft of red from the sulky sun, retiring defeated from the day’s battle; a glimpse of orange in the rounding of a tug’s funnel.
So the man himself impresses you. Given over to the apparent prosecution of an incessant activity, all that there is in his surroundings and entourage of the most coldly business-like, there yet is visible the longing for the relief that beauty alone affords, in the carefully harmonious furnishing of a luxurious office with its picture here of a stately building, there of a riot of lovely flowers, massed in color against a neutral-tinted wall. More, when Mr. Lewisohn himself says simply, “I love all things that are beautiful; rare books, etchings, pottery, flowers and, of course, music,” there is a light in the face of the financier that turns it into that of the dreamer, almost the poet. It is interesting to note how these activities have mingled in the unfolding of a long life.
Mr. Lewisohn’s Career
Adolph Lewisohn was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1849. He was educated in private schools in Hamburg, receiving a thorough general training. At the age of eighteen he came to America, settling in New York City, where his brother, the late Leonard Lewisohn, had preceded him, and they together a few years later established the firm of Lewisohn Brothers, which the two brothers carried on for about thirty years. At the present time Mr. Lewisohn is head of the firm of Adolph Lewisohn & Sons and of many subsidiary copper companies.
Throughout his life Mr. Lewisohn has done big things in the field of philanthropy. He has his own investigators to examine into cases of poverty and distress, and if satisfied that the case is a deserving one, alleviates it in a practical way. Together with Nathaniel Myers he helped to establish the Hebrew Technical School for Girls. The school makes it a rule to keep in touch with its graduates to ascertain what practical benefits they have derived from their instruction, and the statistics show that .about 2500 graduates so reporting are now earning an aggregate of about $1,500,000 annually. But besides the practical education which these children have acquired, what is even of greater importance is that they have been improved in character and culture, the aim of the school being to inculcate in its pupils the highest ideals and principles.
To Columbia University Mr. Lewisohn has donated the building for its School of Mines, which ranks high among American institutions of the kind.
Gave Stadium to City
The magnificent and imposing Stadium, situated on the brow of the hill of Morningside Heights, adjoining the College of the City of New York, and one of the show places of the city, is a gift from Mr. Lewisohn to the City of New York, which in turn presented it to the Cjty College. The beautiful structure is Mr. Lewisohn’s tribute of gratitude to this American city and a token of his appreciation of the free education which the college gives to the youth of New York. It is quite likely that the Stadium will be extended to seat about 20,000 people if the proper arrangements can be made for the acquisition of Jasper Field opposite.
Mr. Lewisohn has always interested himself in Mount Sinai Hospital, of which he has been and is now a director. He contributed the Pathological Building and paid for its equipment and maintenance, besides making liberal donations toward the general work of the hospital, so that Mount Sinai ranks as one of the best hospitals in the country. The scientific research work carried on in its Pathological Building stands preeminent among work of this kind.
This man of wealth considers it a privilege and a pleasure to render service to his fellowmen, believing that his fortune is in a great measure given to him by his Creator as a trust for the good of humanity. Of him it is said that he never speaks unkindly of a human being, but always tries to find and bring out the better part of each man’s nature.
Child Welfare Dear to Him
Particularly is he devoted to child welfare work in its many forms. He is president of the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Orphan Asylum, which is taking care of about 1000 orphan and dependent children in its boarding-out bureau and its cottage homes at Pleasantville, N. Y. Some of the foremost authorities have critically inspected the work of this institution and given it their unqualified endorsement as representing the highest type of child-caring work and a model for others to follow.
At a conference called by President Roosevelt at the White House in 1909, Mr. Lewisohn fully set forth his ideas on child-caring. He believes, as he then stated, in keeping the child in its own home and contributing toward its support rather than in an institution, or if that is impossible, in boarding it out with another family, but if neither is possible, then the institution to which it must be sent should be a modern cottage home.
Flowers represent one of Mr. Lewisohn’s hobbies, but his enjoyment of them is not a selfish thing. Together with Dr. P. P. Claxton, United States Commissioner of Education, he has actively interested himself in home gardening by introducing instruction in agriculture and horticulture in the public schools. He regards home gardening as of great educational value as well as of practical benefit. In a great measure, he feels, this occupation for children would help to solve the child labor problem by furnishing a profitable and at the same time a healthful substitute for labor in the factory and the mill. As a member of the National Child Labor Committee, and as president of the International Child Welfare League Mr. Lewisohn has been a powerful factor in the fight which has resulted in the enactment of national laws against child labor and the success or partial success of this movement in some of the States.
Another field in which Mr. Lewisohn has been active, particularly in the last few years, is that of practical prison reform, in which as president of the National Committee on Prisons he is taking a leading part. As president of the Westchester County Committee of the State Charities Aid Association arid as a member of the Board of the State Charities Aid Association, he has further opportunity for that doing of practical good in which his soul so evidently delights.
Music a Summer Essential
Of his recent munificence in regard to supporting the Stadium concerts, the financier said, very simply:
“It seemed to me a happy opportunity to offer to the great majority of people good, elevating music at a moderate price. It was needed especially, I thought, in the summer time. The theaters do not give their best then; the moving pictures are not always elevating. But music like this always calls out the best in one. So, since the acoustics are so good and the fresh air in itself such a relief and a pleasure, why not make the thing a permanent joy?
“And so it seems to be. When I go there I notice that the audiences are absolutely attentive. It is like being in church, so undisturbed is the silence in this healthful, beautiful place. These audiences wait for the end. At the opera it is not always so, as everyone knows. But here they take the chance of being crowded and uncomfortable on the way home rather than lose any of the music. Evidently it rests and helps them; and no chance has been taken in the including of anything that might disturb the pleasure of it. Under present conditions, German music, for example, might do so. Therefore, it has been eliminated.
“I am not a musician myself,” he said in answer to a question, “except in the sense that a man is who loves and enjoys it always, and always has. I like to sing,” he added.
“All things beautiful are dear to me,” he went on. “My pictures, for example, of which I have an interesting collection of the modern French, American and English schools. I have some Italian and Spanish pottery that I believe is well worth while. Some etchings I have, and some rare books that they say are good, too. In fact, Sir Purdon Clarke wrote Dr. Bode of the Berlin Museum about my whole collection of these things.”
Flowers are a veritable passion with Mr. Lewisohn. Much as he loves the cultivated product, of which he has made a special hobby (he showed me with such pleasure a silver cup given him as a prize for a specially remarkable achievement in chrysanthemums!), he loves the wild flowers tenderly.
“I like sport so much!” he ‘Said. “But flowers are so dear to me, and nature’s beauty in general, that often when I am golfing and go through some beautiful little bit of woods, I want to leave the game just to step and enjoy the flowers and the surrounding that they make.”
Truly, it is the man who has loved work for its own sake that best knows the joy of relaxation; perhaps that is why this man, who has accomplished so much that is difficult with such a never-ceasing surge of love for the beautiful always in his soul, has translated so helpfully the longing of the multitude for that joy of beauty and relaxation combined that only music can give the tired soul. —CLARE PEELER.


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