Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wagner Conservatory: Published Accounts

Glinda writes:

As I have mentioned previously, Grandmother Lottie Lillian Hart (later Brenz) graduated from the Richard Wagner Conservatory of Music and Languages in Kirksville, Missouri, in 1909. As is all too common with women's experience, record of such experiences and institutions of which they have been part has all but vanished with the passage of time and generations with direct experience. Today, few people in this area seem to know of the Music Conservatory; it must have been quite prestigious and uncommon in a rural setting at the turn of the last century. Very little is written about it. So far, this is what I have found in published accounts:

WAGNER CONSERVATORY.---The Wagner Conservatory of Music and Languages was orgainzed in 1893 by Prof. E. M. Goldberg, who had formerly been connected with the music department of Stephens' College at Columbia, Missouri. He has been conducting work in music and languages ever since in Kirksville. At times Prof. Goldberg has had assistants, but he has generally been the sole instructor. From: History of Adair County, by E.M. Violette, published by The Denslow History Company, 1911, page 396.
Source of photo: History of Adair County, by E.M. Violette, published by The Denslow History Company, 1911, page 715.

PROFESSOR EDWARD M. GOLDBERG, musical director of the Richard Wagner Conservatory of Music and Languages, was born in Luegde, Prussia, in 1850. When twelve years old, he entered the Liceum at Hanover, also attending the School of Music. In 1865 he entered the college at Muenster, Westfalia, completing the course in 1869. He next entered the University of Wuerzburg, taking work in the department of philology, and a year later continued his studies at the University of Leipzig, also attending the Royal Conservatory of Music. In 1872 he came to America, locating in Chicago, where he established a private school for the study of modern and classical languages and music. In 1874 he located in Washington, also teaching the same year in Cincinnati, where he was tutor of the daughter of Mrs. Allen. After four years he became a professor of modern languages at the college at Westfield, Illinois, where he established a musical department. In 1883 he served in the same capacity at Grand River College at Austinburg, Ohio, where he married Miss Nettie Pierce, a prominent teacher. In 1885 he was engaged as head of the musical department of Stephens Female College at Columbia, Missouri. Here his wife was at the same time teacher of Latin, German and French. They lived here for eight years. After the death of the president of the college, Professor Goldberg came to Kirksville, Missouri, where he established the Richard Wagner Conservatory of Music and Languages. During its existence this school has been attended by no less than two thousand students, from various states, some coming even from New Mexico. The musical graduates of this institution are teaching in ladies' seminaries and private schools, as well as privately, and are considered very able teachers. From: History of Adair County, by E.M. Violette, published by The Denslow History Company, 1911, pages 711 and 714.Source of photo: Adair County Revisited: Pictorial History of the 20th Century in Adair County, Missouri, by Amanda Jones (Editor), published by Heritage House Publishing, 1999, page 15.

Six young ladies graduated in 1900 from the Richard Wagner Conservatory of Music and Languages where they studied under F.M. Goldburg, back, center. The school was a Kirksville branch of Stephens College in Columbia, MO. (Contributed by Frank Smith, grandson of Essie Holmes Smith, front, left.)


COMMENCEMENT EXERCISE, TURN OF THE CENTURY --- The Richard Wagner Conservatory of Music and Languages "classical graduates" are pictured with their musical director, Prof. E.M. Goldburg. The photograph which as been reproduced for Mrs. Frank J. (Lucille) Smith of Rt. 5, Kirksville is believed to have been taken about the turn of the century.

The conservatory at 113 W. Washington St., was opened Aug. 4, 1893 and this was reported to be the seventh annual commencement for a four-year course including a two-year organ course.

Mr. Smith's grandmother, Essie Holmes, who became Mrs. Orie J. Smith on March 21, 1912, is shown on the left in the front row.

Others are believed to be Lola May Carter, Lenna Lee Langford and Zina May Morris, all of Kirksville; Ethel Lee Cram of Green City; A. Maud Sesser of Leon, Kan., and Professor Goldburg.

Mrs. Smith has a "glowing" newspaper account of the commencement including the decorations, talent and comments of Elder H.A. Northcutt, but she is seeking additional information for a family history. (Photo and text appeared in the Kirksville, MO Express and News, January 12, 1986, no page given.)


Glinda's notes:

(1) Please note 2 variations of the musical director's name: E.M. Violette (1911) uses Professor E.M. Goldberg; the Daily Express accounts list both E.M. Goldburg and F.M. Goldburg.

(2) I am curious to see articles from the Kirksville Daily Express during the time period of the Music Conservatory. In fact, I would be quite eager to get my hands on them!


(Edited: 2/28/08)

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