The Cleveland Orchestra Launches

The Musical Arts Association was founded in 1915 at the urging of Adella Prentiss Hughes. Assembling the major contributors and advisors from her Symphony Orchestra Concert series, she advocated forming an organization to further the interests of music in the Cleveland community.

By 1918, her vision expanded to put together a permanent orchestra for the city. Cleveland philanthropist John Long Severance paid the first year’s salary of Nikolai Sokoloff, the Orchestra’s first music director and conductor. By December 11, 1918, Sokoloff had brought together fifty-four musicians for the Orchestra’s first concert.

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