All in the Philadelphia Family

While looking through the alphabetical list of musicians in Twenty-five Years of the Philadelphia Orchestra 1900-1925 by Frances Anne Wister, I was struck by the number of people in the orchestra who shared a last name. There are more than thirty pairs of these.

Perhaps this wasn’t unusual. What about other orchestras?
I can find about the same number of pairs (and a few 3-of-a-kind) for the Boston Symphony Orchestra; however, it’s on a roster that encompasses 50 years.1Howe, M.A.DeWolfe, The Boston Symphony Orchestra: 1881-1931. Revised by John N. Burk Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1931. Similarly, around 30 pairs of names can be found in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but their roster is for all former musicians since 1891, making it about 100 years’ worth of players as opposed to 25.2The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, Rosenthal Archives. www.cso.org/archives

Well, weren’t musicians like other occupations that ran in families–like the Bach family?
Certainly. For instance, it seems very likely that Joseph Horner, who played horn from 1902-25, and Anton Horner, who also played horn from 1902-25, were brothers. Their name might even have been derived from their profession! Julius Scheel, who was principal violin from 1901-12, was the brother of the orchestra’s conductor, Fritz Scheel. Cellist Hugo Kreisler (1906-07) and bass player Fabien Koussevitzky (1923-25) had famous musician relatives. However, the tendency for musicians to come from musical families doesn’t explain such a high rate of relatives for this particular orchestra.

Could it be a high number of very common last names?
That must be the reason for some, such as Beck: William J. played violin from 1906-09 and Jacob H. played trumpet, from 1900-01. However it does not account for others, such as Bielo: Henry played bassoon from 1920-22 and Julius played bass for the same period.

What about coincidence?
Yes, coincidence seems to be the only explanation for Emil Schmidt (viola, 1900-01) and Emil F. Schmidt (violin, 1900-01); but for most of these names, I am guessing it isn’t a coincidence.

Could the two names actually refer to the same person, who was just mistakenly identified?
Yes. Clerical error seems more likely to me than coincidence. One instance here could be Erich Haltenorth, who played violin and viola from 1901-2, then 1904-24. H. Haltenorth, who played violin from 1903-04, might actually be Erich, mistakenly identified.

I noticed that many instances were from the first year of the orchestra. Perhaps the need to fill all the positions was more pressing than finding the best available players?
Indeed. It seems that “during the first year of its existence, the orchestra was still composed of local musicians, who had joined the orchestra to supplement their professional income and to gratify their higher taste.”3John H. Mueller, The American Symphony Orchestra: A Social History of Musical Taste (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1951), 126.

Local talent?

  • Carl Haferburg (viola, 1901-02, 1903-05); and L.M. Haferburg (viola, 1902-03).
  • F.H. Hartmann, trombone, and H. Hartmann, bass, both 1900-01.
  • Walter H. Stobbe, battery, and William R. Stobbe, tympani, both 1900-01.
  • Edgar Gastel, violin, and Erwin Gastel, cello, both 1900-01.
  • Fred P. Greims, cello, 1900-01, and H. Greims, viola, 1901-02.
  • Henry F. Volmer, viola, and Louis Volmer, cello, both 1900-01.
  • Leon Stoll, viola and William Stoll, Jr., violin, both 1900-01.
  • Daniel R. Wells, viola, 1900-02, and William M. Wells, cello, 1900-04.

Fathers and Sons, perhaps.

  • Daniel (1910-18) and André Maquarre (1918-20), both principal flute .
  • Edmund (1904-09) and Joseph Schuëcker (1909-11), both harp.
  • Hugo, viola (1900-04; 1908-21), and Herman Carow, violin (1916-18).
  • Paul, violin (1903-04; 1907-17) and Frederick Donath, viola, celesta (1923-24).

Brothers, probably.

  • Gustav Olk (viola, 1903-04) and Hugo Olk (principal violin, 1902-04).
  • David Dubinsky (violin/viola 1900-25; principal 1912-25) and Vladimir Dubinsky (cello principal 1906-07)
  • Horace Britt (cello, principal 1907-08) and Roger Britt (violin, 1914-20).
  • Antonio Ferrara (violin, 1916-25) and Luigi Ferrara (violin, 1917-25).
  • Gustav Mayer (1916-23) and Henry Mayer, Jr. (1907-23) both battery.
  • Edward Raho (1913-25) and Lewis Raho (1918-24), both oboe.
  • Ernest Serpentini (oboe, 1924-25) and Jules J. Serpentini (clarinet, 1920-25).

Anyone’s guess…

  • David Cohen (violin, 1918-25) and Solomon Cohen (trumpet, 1918-25).
  • Joel Belov (violin, 1912-20; 1923-24) and Samuel Belov (Viola, 1908-20).
  • Benjamin Eisenberg (violin, 1918-19) and Maurice Eisenberg (cello, 1917-19).
  • David Epstein (viola, 1922-25), Leonard Epstein (viola, 1920-24), and Meyer B. Epstein (Violin, 1923-24).
  • Carl Fasshauer (violin, 1912-18) and John Fasshauer (bass, 1900-05, 1907-21).
  • E. Kruger (violin 1903-05) and Otto Kruger (violin, 1905-17).
  • Charles M. Schmitz (cello, 1900-01) and Philipp Schmitz (cello, 1903-13; 1919-25).
  • Frank S. Watson (cello, 1918-25) and Nelson J. Watson (bass, 1923-24).
  • H. Wittman (bass, 1900-01) and Florian Wittman (viola, 1922-23).
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