Though her face was obscured from the camera by a hat, none of this would have happened were it not for Prentiss Hughes. In 1915, she created the Musical Arts Association, which led to the founding of the orchestra in 1918. Her passion was music, and she had the organizing and fundraising skills to carve out a place for it in Cleveland.
Severance, with his hand on the stone, possessed a family fortune won through oil and industrial interests (his father, Louis, was a founding member of the Standard Oil trust), but he was also a lover of music and an art collector. He had originally donated $1.5 million to the hall project, but increased the amount to $2.5 million in honor of his late wife, Elisabeth.
Blossom, wearing a bow tie, was a successful businessman too. In addition to his own earnings, Blossom acquired a fortune from his wife, Elizabeth Bingham, a Standard Oil heiress. They channeled their wealth toward a school for girls, a City Hospital and the orchestra. Blossom led the campaign to match Severance’s $2.5 million, which ultimately completed the hall.
Their creation has endured. The 102nd Cleveland Orchestra season at Severance Hall begins on Sept. 19 with a rendition of Schubert’s Symphony No. 3 and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.
8:00 AM EST
September 25, 2019