The Schubert Club is Minnesota’s earliest arts organization. It was launched in the autumn of 1882 when Governor Ramsey’s daughter Marion Ramsey Furness, along with some music-loving friends, formed “The Ladies Musicale.” Before long the name was changed to honor Franz Schubert. By 1893 the International Artist Series was added and the women began presenting the finest recital artists of the day beginning with the renowned German pianist Adele Aus der Ohe.
The Schubert Club has flourished throughout recent decades due in large part to the leadership of Bruce Carlson, its director for the last third of the 20th century. His spirited vision and fresh ideas brought national acclaim to the organization, most notably when two commissioned works won Pulitzer Prizes.
The Schubert Club owes its success to the continuing devotion of a dedicated Board of Directors, enthusiastic audiences, friends and foundations. Now in the 21st century and under the leadership of Barry Kempton, The Schubert Club reaffirms its mission to promote the art of music and to maintain a high standard of excellence.
The Schubert Club, one of the oldest arts organizations in the country, has brought virtually all of the world’s great recitalists to the Saint Paul stage— Jascha Heifetz, Myra Hess, Artur Rubinstein, and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, among them. Yo-Yo Ma and Beverly Sills have each appeared four times or more. Highlights from the 21st century include Renée Fleming, Joshua Bell, Alfred Brendel, Lang Lang, and Anne-Sophie Mutter.
Throughout its history The Schubert Club has showcased performers in Saint Paul, often within months of making their first appearances in the U.S. Such was the case with Vladimir Horowitz in 1928, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in 1955 (for his American debut), Mistislav Rostropovich in 1963, and Cecilia Bartoli in 1996. The Schubert Club also presented rising American artists: after her Metropolitan Opera debut, Pittsburgh-born Louis Homer sang here in 1902, Isaac Stern in 1943 at age 23, and Leontyne Price in 1961.
Since its earliest days, The Schubert Club has cultivated new musicians, composers and audiences. Today its educational programs reach eager first graders, talented high-school students, and budding professionals with tailored instruction, spirited competitions and master classes.
Since 1969 The Schubert Club has been operating Project CHEER at the Hallie Q. Brown/Martin Luther King Center in Saint Paul’s Selby/Dale neighborhood. Echoing the organization’s 1911 program at the West Side Neighborhood House, Project CHEER offers free piano and guitar lessons to children in grades 1 to 12.
Master classes bring seasoned professionals and new performers together to share their love of music. Through the Student Scholarship Competition, begun in 1922 and now named in honor of Bruce P. Carlson, hundreds of talented youth from junior high through graduate school compete annually for prizes totaling more than $70,000. Categories in voice, piano, strings, brass, woodwinds, guitar and organ are offered.
The velvet touch
Bechstein 1878 Grand Piano
The New Museum
The gift in 1972 of a piano made by H. Kisting launched The Schubert Club Museum, setting in motion an interest in obtaining significant keyboard instruments. The Gilman Ordway Manuscript Collection was added in 1984, broadening yet further the Museum’s impressive collection with more than one hundred original letters and manuscripts from the greatest composers of three centuries.
Today, the Schubert Club Museum has been visited by nearly a quarter million students, musicians, visiting artists, and music lovers from all over the world. Along with concerts and educational programs, it has become an integral part of The Schubert Club’s mission. To share this extraordinary collection with a wider audience, The Schubert Club opened its new Museum in 2009, bringing together the best of all the collections, and offering them to the public free of charge.