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Frederick A. Stock Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Stock

Scope and Content of the Collection

Notes and letters, all addressed to Frederick A. Stock with two exceptions, mostly from musical artists and composers. Of the sixty items, twenty are written in German, several in French, and one in Italian from Ottorino Respighi to a person named "Rossi." Included among the more interesting pieces are letters from Nadia Boulanger, Percy Grainger and Walter Damrosch, and postcards with their photos from Wilhelm Backhaus and Wanda Landowska. Also, a letter in German from Theodore Thomas written in 1904; and a letter from Rose Fay Thomas written in 1905, which describes Thomas's burial and also gives her directive for the maintenance of her husband's musical scores. Other correspondents include John Alden Carpenter, Pablo Casals, Gregor Piatigorsky, Georg Schumann, John Philip Sousa, and Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler. Also includes eight 8x10 black and white photographs of Stock conducting rehearsals at Interlochen Music Camp (Gift of Esko Townell, 2011.)


  • Creation: 1904-1940s



Materials are in English, German, Italian, and French.

Conditions Governing Access

The Frederick A. Stock Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 5 folders at a time maximum (Priority II).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Frederick A. Stock Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Frederick A. Stock

American conductor of German birth and second conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Frederick August Stock was born in Julich, Germany in 1872, and started his musical career in 1891 as a violinist in the Gurzenich Orchestra in Cologne. In 1895 he was persuaded by Theodore Thomas, conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, to come to America and join that orchestra. By 1899 Stock was both playing - not violin but viola - and conducting rehearsals and occasional out-of-town concerts. In 1903, Thomas appointed him as his assistant conductor.

When Theodore Thomas died in 1905, Stock began his thirty-seven-year tenure as conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a career span which was only exceeded by that of Eugene Ormandy's forty-four years with the Philadelphia Orchestra. During his years as director, Stock introduced new compositions by such composers as Debussy, Ravel, Mahler, Schoenberg and Hindemith, and in 1921 he conducted the world premiere of Prokofiev's third piano concerto with the composer as soloist.

Among Stock's accomplishments were the following: establishing a pension fund for the orchestra members, instituting low-price popular concerts and children's concerts, and founding the Chicago Civic Orchestra as a training ground for young musicians, using CSO players as teachers and coaches. He composed a few works, but is best remembered for the esteem in which he was held as an interpreter.

Stock married Elizabeth Muskulus in 1896; they had one daughter, Vera. He became an American citizen in 1919. Just after the opening of the CSO 1942-43 season, he died of a heart attack.


0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)


Incoming correspondence to Frederick A. Stock, second conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Also photographs of Stock rehearsing at Interlochen Music Camp, early 1940s.


Arranged alphabetically, with photographs at the end.

Collection Stack Location

1 33 7


Purchase, 1950; Gift of Esko Townell, 2011.

Processed by

Virginia H. Smith, 2003.

Inventory of the Frederick A. Stock Papers, 1904-1940
Virginia H. Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States