Quaker City Leader Develops Talent of Young Musicians
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Quaker City Leader Develops Talent of Young Musicians

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To Edwin A. Fleisher, who has the distinction of having one of his “boys” in virtually every large orchestra of the country, with fourteen of them in the Philadelphia Orchestra, has gone the 1934 award made annually by the Alumni Association of Congregation Keneseth Israel, one of the oldest and the largest reform congregations in America. This award is given in recognition of outstanding service in the interest of the entire community.

A modest unassuming person is Edwin A. Fleisher, scion of a distinguished family famous for extraordinary service to the community. His brother, Samuel S. Fleisher, is the founder and sole support of the Graphic Sketch Club-a unique institution in this country – where some of America’s leading artists have received not only their first inspiration, but also their early training. His sister, the late Helen Fleisher, in addition to her other benefactions, advocated vocational training for girls and supported such schools until several years ago when the Board of Education recognizing the value of this activity made it a part of the local school system.

Twenty-five years ago about this time, Mr. Fleisher saw the need for a place where young people with a natural love for music might receive guidance and instruction. To meet this need he established the Symphony Club, from which there have since been graduated a number of our outstanding musicians. The Symphony Club is conducted along non-sectarian lines. There is no charge for admission and no question is asked as to race or religion. Some knowledge of and love for music are the only requisites.

In addition to the Symphony Club Mr. Fleisher has given to Philadelphia a library of orchestral music recognized as one of the most complete in this country. This library is now a part of the Free Library of Philadelphia and is visited by music lovers and students of orchestral music from various parts of the world.


Called upon to accept the bronze medal and the scroll that went with it, Mr. Fleisher reminiscently referred to the days 25 years ago when he first embarked upon his career of public benefaction. He told how he recruited 65 boys from a neighborhood that was then considered one of the worst in the city. These young people, he said, were only too happy to take advantage of the opportunities he offered them to advance themselves in a musical way. In those days, he added, talent had nowhere to go for advice. Many of these boys needed more than advice; they needed the wherewithal to start them along the lines leading to a career. Out of that group have come some of our finest musicians. Fourteen of the group are now members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. There is hardly an orchestra of importance in this country that does not have a former student of the Symphony Club. Not long ago one of the Symphony Club students failed to pass the examinations of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Now he is earning more in one day than the other fourteen earn in a week. Mr. Fleisher refused to {SPAN}dis#se{/SPAN} the identity of this artist who is known to be one of the foremost violinists on the concert stage today.

The exercises attending the presentation of the award were impressive and the distinction conferred upon Mr. Fleisher has elicited commendation from all elements in the community.

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