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David Mannes Edit Profile

conductor , Music educator , violinist

David Mannes, violinist, music school director. Decorated Knight of the Crown of Italy; Officer of Public Instruction (French).


David Mannes was born in New York in 1866. He studied the violin in Harlem with composer and violinist John Thomas Douglass, the son of a freed slave, and later in Berlin with Karel Halíř.


Public school education. Studied music New York City, Berlin and Brussels. Doctor of Music, Oberlin College, 1942.


Mannes was a violinist in the New York Symphony Orchestra from 1891 and its concertmaster from 1898 to 1912. David Mannes was both a musician and an activist. He believed music to be a universal language, and that it could be used to bridge divides between races and social classes in America.

From 1917 to 1941, Mannes conducted free public concerts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Great Hall. The series consisted of eight concerts per year, and was funded primarily by John D. Rockefeller. Records indicate that there were 781 in attendance for the very first concert and that by the sixth concert of 1919, attendance was over 7,000.

Mannes recruited musicians for the series from the New York Symphony Orchestra, and later the New York Philharmonic when the New York Symphony merged with the Philharmonic Society of New York. Music Is My Faith is his autobiography. Mannes is also discussed in Maurice Peress' "Dvorak to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America's Music and Its African American Roots."\r\nHe died in 1959, aged 93.


Married Clara Damrosch, June 4, 1898. Children: Leopold D., Marya Mannes Clarkson.

Henry Mannes

Natalie (Wittkowsky) Mannes

Clara Damrosch

Leopold D. Mannes

Marya Mannes Clarkson Mannes