Why we are members of the Theodore Thomas Society?
The Theodore Thomas Society memorializes the first music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He was asked to come to Chicago by a group of dedicated music lovers who were inspired by Thomas’s conception of the moral force of music to civilize the world. Maestro Thomas regarded art music as the highest achievement of humanity.
At the time the CSO was started, orchestras were either state-sponsored or, as in Boston, started by one wealthy individual. Those who established the CSO in 1891 instead endorsed the idea of an orchestra with distributed support. They believed that an orchestra with support from many persons and organizations would be a stronger and more vital institution than one supported by a head of state or by one or a small group of wealthy donors. The more patrons who provided support for the CSO, the stronger it would be.
Clearly the organization founded in 1891 has been very successful as the CSO has developed a reputation as one of the best orchestras in the world. It has attracted exciting conductors and soloists and has started such creative programming as CSO MusicNOW.
We who attend the CSO’s concerts are enriched by our experiences in Orchestra Hall. We believe that those of us who have been enriched by the performances of the CSO have a responsibility to maintain it into the future. The Theodore Thomas Society makes us a part of the effort to ensure that this great cultural institution flourishes far into the future so that others may be enriched as we have been.
Membership in the Theodore Thomas Society is not designed for the rich but for the enriched. When we put the CSO in our will we were not rich, but it was important to us to fulfill our responsibilities to the CSO.