Adella Prentiss Hughes

From the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

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HUGHES, ADELLA PRENTISS (29 Nov. 1869-23 Aug. 1950), best known as the founder of the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA, was born in Cleveland to Loren and Ellen Rouse Prentiss, graduated from Miss Fisher’s School for Girls in 1886, and from Vassar College in 1890 with a degree in music. After a grand tour of Europe, returning to Cleveland in 1891, she became a professional accompanist. Though successful in this role, Prentiss became interested in the broader aspects of musical promotion in Cleveland, and in 1898 began bringing various performers and orchestras to the city. By 1901, she was one of Cleveland’s major impresarios, regularly engaging orchestras to perform at GRAYS ARMORY. During the next 17 years she supplied the city with a series of musical attractions, including orchestras, opera, ballet, and chamber music. Seeing the need for a permanent orchestra, Hughes created the MUSICAL ARTS ASSN.. in 1915 from a nucleus of business and professional men to furnish support for her projects. It was through her influence that NIKOLAI SOKOLOFF† came to Cleveland. In 1918, she, Sokoloff, and the Musical Arts Assoc. joined forces to create the Cleveland Orchestra. She served as its first manager, holding that position for 15 years. She also held administrative positions in the Musical Arts Assoc. for 30 years, retiring in 1945 only to continue her philanthropic work. Adella Prentiss married Felix Hughes in 1904. The couple divorced in 1923.


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