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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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DUBUQUE ACADEMY OF MUSIC. Iowa's first school of piano. Opened in 1880 at 9th and Main Street (the Eagle Block), the school's founders were Misses Clarissa R. Hamblin and May C. Worthington, former students at the Leipzig conservatory. (1) At first only piano, pipe organ and music theory was taught. Using one Chickering grand piano, two other pianos and a two-pedal organ, the teachers stressed their objectives of teaching and cultivating musical talent.

Recitals were first held on April 24, 1880. There were eight such programs given the first year. The first annual concert occurred in the Dubuque Opera House on May 27, 1881. By the end of 1881 the number of pupils was 117. In 1882 the number of students rose to 172 and fourteen recitals were presented. By the end of 1883, twenty-six recitals had been given. This number rose to fifty-one by December 1889.

Professor and Mrs. A. C. Kleine. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
By 1882, the school had 172 pupils and departments of vocal music and violin were added. The school's founders were succeeded by Miss Rosa L. Kerr and Miss Anna M. Piatt in June 1887.

In 1890, A.C. Klein, a native of Dubuque, became the school's director. He moved the Academy to a larger building at 1027 Main and hired more staff. Students could receive private as well as class lessons. Recitals, the St. Celicia Club and an excellent musical library were considered important factors in the success of the school. The St. Celicia Club was an organization for the more advanced students to study the history of music and general musical literature. Special recitals of the Club's members were given annually. There was also a Junior St. Celicia Club for pupils in the elementary and intermediate grades.

Brochure of the Dubuque Academy of Music. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
The 1890-91 Dubuque City Directory listed the corner of 9th and Main. At that time, $6.00 was charged for twenty-four half-hour lessons. (2) The 1913 Dubuque and Dubuque County Directory and the 1923 Dubuque City Directory stated that this business was located at 1027 Main.

Encouraging local interest in music, the Academy could claim some credit for establishing the Dubuque Choral Club, Dubuque Maennerchor, Germania Band, Friday Music Club, and the Schroeder Symphony Orchestra. After the death of Klein in 1939, the Academy moved to the campus of the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE.

Photo of the 1918 graduating class of the Dubuque Academy of Music. Photo courtesy: Rachel Harpham
Brochure of the Dubuque Academy of Music. Photo courtesy: Rachel Harpham
Reminder to a St. Celicia Club member of an upcoming performance. Photo courtesy: Edith Norman and Bob Reding



1. "Academy of Music," Dubuque Herald, February 18, 1880, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18800218&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

2. "Municipal Molecules," Dubuque Daily Herald, September 16, 1891, p. 4

"Dubuque Academy of Music," Telegraph Herald, Aug. 5, 1923 p. 19