The Fruits of Her Hands: Jewish Women and Social Welfare, 1819-1920
Introduction Religion Orphans Health Care Settlements Music
Music Lessons, circa 1920
The Settlement Music School was the brainchild of Jeanette Selig and Blanche Wolf while they were teaching gymnastics at the College Settlement. Both women had musical training, an appreciation for the arts and a belief that music had the power to enrich the lives of immigrant children living in South Philadelphia. In 1908, they announced the advent of music lessons at the College Settlement on Christian Street. Much to their surprise, over thirty children responded, more than the two volunteers were able to handle. Selig and Wolf
sought additional music instructors and acquired the time and talent of Samuel Belov and Johann Grolle. Both members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, these men were deeply committed to training children to achieve a high quality of musicianship regardless of their socioeconomic status. When Grolle took the Director’s position in 1909, waiting list of students already existed. High enrollment forced the school to move to larger facilities at 429 Christian Street. By 1914, the Settlement Music School received its own charter as an independent organization and rented a property at 427 Christian Street.
Music Lessons, circa 1920 Settlement Music School, 416 Queen Street
The School’s first President, Mrs. Samuel Fels, worked diligently to enhance the reputation of the school, attracting children from all over the city. In 1914, the school gave lessons to over two hundred-thirty children with more than a hundred on a waiting list. The philanthropy of Mrs. Edward Bok (later Mrs. Efrem Zimbalist) allowed the Settlement Music School to build a three-story property of its own in 1917 at 416 Queen Street. The level of musical performance of the Settlement Music School students grew considerably, making it apparent that the advanced students required a separate professional training facility. The Curtis Institute of Music was established in 1924 for these students, while the Settlement Music School continued its original mission of bringing musical training to children who could not normally afford lessons.