Thomas, Theodore (Christian Friedrich )
- Ezra Schabas
(Christian Friedrich )
(b Esens, East Friesland, Oct 11, 1835; d Chicago, Jan 4, 1905). American conductor of German birth . His father was a Stadtmusikus in Esens. Thomas started playing the violin when he was two. Five years later he performed for the King of Hanover who offered him a place in the royal household, which he declined. In 1845 the family moved to the USA. Thomas’s formal education evidently ceased after his arrival in New York. Nor is there any record of his having studied the violin with a recognized teacher, although he did study harmony and counterpoint in his twenties. He served as a member and leader of many opera, theatre and concert orchestras and was a well-known and esteemed soloist and chamber player. In his early years he played under and was influenced significantly by the conductors Karl Eckert and Louis Jullien. In 1854 he joined the first violin section of the New York Philharmonic Society. A year later he and the pianist William Mason launched a series of monthly matinée chamber concerts at Dodworth Hall in New York; the world première of Brahms’s Piano Trio in B op.8 was given at their first concert. The series continued for 14 years, featuring works for string quartet and for piano and strings, and the standard of playing and repertory attracted admiration in Europe and North America....