Wishing a very happy birthday to our founder and first music director Theodore Thomas on the occasion of his 183rd birthday!

“His life was a strange succession of vicissitudes, adventures, poignant sacrifices, apparent disasters, and triumphs unseen. He had great and unaccountable gifts in his art, native gifts largely untrained, but indomitably efficient for the work he was to do. He was equipped with resources of character that made him seem almost mysteriously fitted to his task. Circumstances drove into his consciousness when still young and impressionable an intimate knowledge of the mentality of the people he was to serve; such a knowledge as no other musician of his day possessed. Often at the great crises of his career he was swept against his will or inclining to the very course that proved most helpful to his aim. When he desired to stay at home, he was compelled to travel; when his work was done in one field, conditions pushed him, over his protests, into another. Whenever the ground was ready anywhere for the peculiar seed-sowing he was engaged in, some circumstance arose to lead or drive him to that one glebe land. . . .

“The lives of millions of people are the brighter or the more endurable because of the work to which Theodore Thomas gave himself with all his heart and with all his soul and all his mind and all his strength; some millions to whom he is only a vague figure, other millions to whom he is not even a name. All their days they will be affected by what he did and the manner of it; their children will be affected after them and other generations after that.”

—excerpt from The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas by Charles Edward Russell, 1927.