Odeon Hall, Cincinnatti, OH
The College of Music of Cincinnati was founded in 1878 by George Ward Nichols and funded with a lead donation from Reuben Springer. The famed conductor Theodore Thomas was immediately hired as the director, a fitting choice since Thomas had been informally involved in education all his life by bringing symphonic music to people throughout the United States. Initially classes were held in Dexter Hall, which was adjacent to the newly-constructed Music Hall.
Thomas immediately set to work, recruiting thirty-one faculty members for the students who had enrolled. During that first year, he trained the college choir and created a college orchestra, which gave twenty-four concerts -- all the while keeping up with his May Festival duties and conducting each month for the Brooklyn Philharmonic Society.
Despite all this work, Thomas was not happy. Some news articles from that period claim that he didn't like Cincinnati and wanted to return to New York. Others cite artistic differences with the College President, George Ward Nichols. Some eighteen months after starting -- and despite a five-year contract -- Thomas resigned his position and returned to New York.
His departure didn't seem to hurt the College, which continued to grow and thrive, and in 1884 moved into a permanent building called the Odeon which featured its own concert hall. In 1889, property next door was purchased and the Lyceum was built with a smaller auditorium used for chamber concerts and lectures.
The Cincinnati Music Hall, an elegant century-old building, stands majestically at the corner of 14th and Elm - just a short walk from the city's center. Dedicated at the time of the fourth May Festival in 1878, Music Hall has endured famously over the years, a testament to those individuals who conceived it and to those who continue to contribute to its grandeur. In January, 1975, it was recognized as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
January 2 and 3, 1885