For a Boston Symphony Orchestra performance in Providence on October 30, 1917, several Rhode Island ladies’ clubs had contacted orchestra manager Charles Ellis, requesting the addition of The Star-Spangled Banner to the concert. After consulting with BSO founder Henry Higginson, Ellis decided not to change the program. Unaware of the request, music director Karl Muck—born in Germany but naturalized as a Swiss citizen—after the concert was accused in the press of working for the German cause and eventually arrested on March 25, 1918. He also was imprisoned at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia until August 1919, when he and his wife were deported. The article is here.
Music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra since 1912, Ernst Kunwald continued to express pride in his Austrian heritage during the war. He led The Star-Spangled Banner before one concert but only after expressing to the orchestra and the mostly German audience that his sympathies were with his homeland. Kunwald was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service on December 8, 1917, and released the following day, whereupon he resigned his post as conductor. One month later, he was interned under the Alien Enemies Act at Fort Oglethorpe and was deported soon thereafter.
At the invitation of founder and first music director Theodore Thomas, Frederick Stock came to the U.S. in 1895 to join the Orchestra as assistant principal viola. He applied for his first U.S. citizenship papers four days after his arrival, but inadvertently neglected to complete the process. He was promoted to assistant conductor in 1899, and shortly after Thomas’s unexpected death on January 4, 1905, the board of trustees soon elected Frederick Stock as the Orchestra’s second music director on April 11.
In 1916, on the eve of U.S. involvement in the war, President Woodrow Wilson ordered The Star-Spangled Banner to be played at military and other notable events. Stock made his own orchestration of the Banner along with America (My Country ’Tis of Thee) and recorded both with the Orchestra for the Columbia Graphophone Company on May 28, 1917.
When the trustees encouraged Stock to finalize his citizenship—to deflect concerns over his German heritage—he discovered that his 1895 application was invalid and needed to start the process a second time. But first, Stock had to submit a Registration Affidavit of Alien Enemy, complete with fingerprints, on February 7, 1918.
With his citizenship status incomplete and the country at war, on August 17, 1918, Frederick Stock made the decision to resign, asserting his loyalty to the U.S. “I do not hesitate to classify myself as American, because all who know me are aware that at heart, in thought and in spirit, as well as in action and deed, I am American, just as willing as any patriot to give my last drop of blood and my last penny for the land of my adoption and of my affections.” Stock’s handwritten letter and a transcript are here.
The trustees of the Orchestral Association reluctantly accepted Stock’s resignation on October 1, 1918. Acknowledging that he had changed the language at rehearsals to English in 1914 and had programmed countless works by American composers, the board expressed its hope that the separation would be temporary, and it would soon be their “joy to welcome to our conductor’s stand Citizen Stock.” The transcript of the board meeting minutes is here.
Chicago composer Eric DeLamarter, was hired as assistant conductor and led the first concerts of the 1918-19 season. DeLamarter also served as organist at Fourth Presbyterian Church from 1914 and as the first conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival beginning in 1935.
At the trustees’ meeting on February 14, 1919, Orchestra manager Frederick Wessels reported that Stock “had complied with all the requirements of the law,” having filed the necessary papers on February 7; ninety days later, his citizenship would be complete. The executive committee met five days later and unanimously resolved that Stock should resume his music directorship the following week.
On February 28, 1919, “as Mr. Stock came through the door . . . cheers sounded in the upper tiers, and the audience rose to utter its gladness that he was back at the post.” That evening’s program began with The Star-Spangled Banner and concluded with the world premiere of Stock’s new March and Hymn to Democracy, “conceived,” according to the composer, “in the spirit of our day, a spirit, indeed, of world-wide turbulence and strife, but also a spirit imbued with unending hope and implicit faith in the ultimate regeneration of humanity.”
Linda Wolfe, Stock’s great-granddaughter, added: “Most of Frederick Stock’s adult life had been with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—ten years as a violist and thirteen as music director—when he was classified as an alien enemy. He was forced to temporarily step down from the podium, and I cannot imagine his anguish and heartache. However, Stock’s devotion to the ensemble and the city did not waver during this dark time, as he spent his exile developing plans for the Civic Orchestra, the series of children’s concerts, and the youth auditions, all endeavors that continue to thrive today.”
Wolfe is pictured here at the Frederick Stock School in Chicago’s Edison Park neighborhood. Opened in 1955, Stock School is a Chicago Public School early childhood center for students between the ages of three and five, providing a model program for children with and without disabilities.
A Time for Reflection—A Message of Peace—a companion exhibit curated by the Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Pritzker Military Museum & Library—will be on display in Symphony Center’s first-floor rotunda from October 2 through November 18, and the content also will be presented on CSO Sounds & Stories and the From the Archives blog.
This exhibit is presented with the generous support of COL (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), Founder and Chair, Pritzker Military Museum & Library, through the Pritzker Military Foundation.
TOP: Enlist: On Which Side of the Window are You?, Laura Brey. A recruitment poster shows a civilian man looking out a window as soldiers march to service. (United States, 1917) | Image: Pritzker Military Museum & Library