Musical Fund Society at 200
The Musical Fund Society (of Philadelphia) is the oldest music organization in the United States that still continues to this day. Founded in 1820, the Society celebrates its bicentennial in 2020 and exhibits will be installed at the University of Pennsylvania and the Free Library of Philadelphia. Musical Fund Society sponsors concerts, promotes and aids musicians, and holds competitions for composers. As their charter states, the purposes behind its founding were two-fold: "the relief of decayed musicians and their families, and the cultivation of skill and diffusion of taste in music."
The Free Library exhibit features several themes: the society’s rich history in the city and their shared history with the Library, having stored their collection there from 1936 to 1991 (when it was transferred to University of Pennsylvania). The Free Library exhibit also highlights the contributions of key figure Henry Drinker (lawyer and musicologist) who was influential in Society for years, backing such events as the Philadelphia premiere of Haydn’s Creation.
Both exhibits will touch upon the notorious forged manuscript attributed to prominent Philadelphian Francis Hopkinson, purchased by the Society while Drinker was counsel. Hopkinson was an author, composer, and signer of the Declaration of Independence. The University of Pennsylvania exhibit will also feature the Society’s competitions for composition, which over the years brought works to the fore such as Bela Bartok’s Third String Quartet and Alfredo Casella’s Serenata.
The Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia records at Penn consist of administrative documents, correspondence, financial relief records, programs, and photographs of portraits. Read more about the collection (and related scores and sheet music collections) in the finding aid.
Curators: Gina Bixler, Gary Galván, Liza Vick