Sheldon [née Seney], Mary (Robinson) [Sheldon, Mrs. George R.]
- Barbara Haws
(Robinson) [Sheldon, Mrs. George R.]
(b Mamaroneck, NY, July 3, 1863; d New York, NY, June 16, 1913). American philanthropist and arts patron. In 1908, Sheldon led a group, Guarantors of the Fund for the Permanent Orchestra of the Philharmonic Society of New York, whose goal was to rebuild the New York Philharmonic—a musician cooperative since 1842—into a first-class orchestra. Sheldon resurrected a 1903 plan, in which she had been involved, to provide New York with a professional orchestra akin to the Boston SO with one important difference: it would be led by Gustav Mahler. The daughter and wife of prominent bankers, Sheldon raised $300,000 from New York’s social elites and sought the advice of Richard Strauss and Felix Mottl. Beginning with the 1909–10 season, the number of concerts increased from 18 to 46 and the musicians’ salaries were guaranteed.
Sheldon’s new organization included some of the old Philharmonic musician-managers, who were brought onto the new Board of Guarantors. The relationship between the guarantors and Mahler, who died after a season and a half, was not always smooth, but in ...