NAME: Adella Prentiss Hughes
DATE OF BIRTH: November 29, 1869
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cleveland, Ohio
DATE OF DEATH: August 23, 1950
PLACE OF DEATH: Cleveland, Ohio
FAMILY BACKGROUND: Adella was the youngest of three children born to Loren and Ellen Rouse Prentiss. She married Felix Hughes in 1904 and divorced in 1923. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1950 and is buried at Lakeview Cemetery.
EDUCATION: Adella attended Rockwell grammar school, the first public school in Cleveland; Miss Fisher's School for Girls (now Hathaway Brown) from which she graduated in 1886; and graduated from Vassar College in 1890 with a Music Degree.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Adella Prentiss Hughes is long remembered as the founding force of the Musical Arts Association and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. Her love and passion for music combined with her business and visionary abilities has given Cleveland a treasured musical and cultural base with the world renown Cleveland Orchestra.
At Vassar, Adella performed as well as arranged tours for the college glee club and banjo club. Following college, Adella toured Europe in 1891 and returned to Cleveland to become a professional accompanist at musical benefits and for visiting artists. She decided to focus on the promotional end of music whereby she brought various orchestras, operas, ballets and chamber music to Grays Armory and Masonic Hall; names such as Richard Strauss, Ignace Jan Paderewski, Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heinck, Nellie Melba, Gustav Mahler, the Diaghileff Ballet Russe and the Boston Grand Opera performed in Cleveland.
For 17 years she was a constant source of music in Cleveland. The Cleveland Music School Settlement was founded by Hughes in 1911 which provided music and dance instruction to children from all parts of the society. In 1915 she founded the Musical Arts Association, the parent organization of the Cleveland Orchestra. In 1918 the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra was born with Nickilai Sokoloff as their first Musical Director and Adella as their first General Manager. The orchestra performed at Grays Armory and Masonic Hall until Severance Hall was opened in 1931. She retired professionally from the Orchestra in 1933 and then assumed the volunteer position of Vice President and Secretary of the Musical Arts Association. She retired fully from public life in 1945 to devote herself to her memoirs, Music is My Life, published in 1947.
Adella Prentiss Hughes Papers [Western Reserve Historical Society]
Hughes, Adella Prentiss. Music Is My Life. Cleveland: World Publishing, 1947
Musical Arts Association Archives, Severance Hall
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