DAMROSCH , family of musicians. leopold damrosch (1832–1885), born in Posen (Poznan), was a conductor and composer. He took a medical degree but devoted himself to music and the violin. As orchestral leader in Magdeburg and Weimar, and conductor in Breslau, he cooperated with Liszt, Hans von Buelow, and others, in championing the cause of contemporary composers. Settling in New York (1871), he founded the Oratorio Society (1873) and the New York Symphony Society (1878), and directed the first German opera season (1884–85) at the Metropolitan Opera House. Among his compositions were the choral works Ruth and Naomi (1875) and Sulamith (1882), and works for the violin. frank heino damrosch (1859–1937), born in Breslau, son of Leopold, was organist and school music supervisor (in Denver and New York), chorusmaster at the Metropolitan (1885–91), and director of choral societies. walter johannes damrosch (1862–1950), born in Breslau, younger son of Leopold, took over his father's conducting posts at the Metropolitan Opera and Oratorio Society, and conducted the New York Symphony Society from 1885 to 1927. He also directed his own opera company (1894–99). Walter Damrosch played an important part in the development of American concert life and its rise to world standards. He toured the U.S. widely, invited Tchaikovsky to America (1891), and gave the first American performances of many important works, including Tchaikovsky's last two symphonies. From 1927 he was music adviser to the National Broadcasting Corporation and did much educational work on the radio. He appeared in two films, The Star Maker and Carnegie Hall (1947), and wrote an autobiography, My Musical Life (1923, 19302).
L.P. and R.P. Stebbins, Frank Damrosch (Eng., 1945); W.J. Henderson, in: Musical Quarterly, 18 (1932), 1–8 (on Walter); E.T. Rice, ibid., 25 (1939), 129–34 (on Frank); 28 (1942), 269–75 (on Leopold); Riemann-Gurlitt; Baker, Biog Dict; Grove, Dict.
[Dora Leah Sowden]