Every Wednesday this month we will feature a different woman from Hathaway Brown School for Women’s History Month and Women Crush Wednesday (#WCW).
Our final woman of the month is Adella Prentiss Hughes.
Adella Prentiss Hughes (Class of 1886) committed her life to making an orchestra a “permanent and vital” part of the cultural life of Cleveland—and accessible to the entire community, not just the moneyed elite.
After graduation from Vassar College in 1890 and a tour of Europe shortly thereafter, Adella (a talented pianist in her own right) joined the Fortnightly Club, a women’s club established in 1894 to encourage the performance of classical music by nationally known artists. She took charge of arranging the appearances of musicians sponsored by the Fortnightly, and gradually became a paid impresario.
The Fortnightly Club’s contribution of $1,000 made possible the founding in 1912 of the Music School Settlement by Mrs. Hughes and Amelda Adams, a remarkable blind musician. Three years later, with the help of financial backers, Mrs. Hughes organized the Musical Arts Association, which led, thanks to the tireless efforts of Mrs. Hughes and others, to the founding of The Cleveland Orchestra.
Top photo: Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection.
Graphic photo: Image Courtesy of Cleveland Memory Project. Michael Schwartz Library.
Sources: Learning for Life – The First 50 Years of Hathaway Brown School: 1876 to 1926 by Virginia P. Dawson, and Tradition and Transformation by Virginia P. Dawson and Mark D. Bowles