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Guide to the Emma Thursby Papers
1706-1942 (Bulk 1860-1940)
  MS 2530

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jenny Gotwals

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 05, 2022
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

February 21, 1845 Birth of Emma Cecilia Thursby, the second of five children (Alice, John, Louis and Ina were her siblings) born to Jane Bennett Thursby and John Barnes Thursby.
1850 Emma Thursby's first concert appearance at the Old Bushwick Reformed Winter Church, to which her family belonged.
1857-1859 Emma and her older sister Alice (also called Allie) study music at the Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
November 17, 1859 The death of John Barnes Thursby is a financial blow to the Thursby family, and Emma's musical training is put on hold. Emma practices her singing at home with her sisters.
1868-1871 Along with other appearances, Emma is engaged as the soloist at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, where Henry Ward Beecher is the pastor. Emma Thursby's income is the financial mainstay for the Thursby family from this time onward.
1872-1873 Emma Thursby travels to Italy to train with Francesco Lamperti and Antonio Sangiovanni.
1875 In 1875 Emma Thursby begins studying with Erminia Rudersdorff, her most influential teacher and advisor.
1876 As her national fame grows, Emma Thursby shares a bill at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with Mark Twain, who read from his writings. She also sings at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.
1877 Emma Thursby signs a contract with Maurice Strakosch to be her voice teacher and manager.
1878-1879 Emma Thursby's travels to Europe for her first European concert tour. While in Europe Emma meets Ole Bull, a famous Norwegian violinist, with whom she had forms a close friendship. After Ole Bull's death, Emma remains friends with Sara Bull, Ole's wife, and Olea Bull, his daughter.
1883 Emma purchases an apartment at 34 Gramercy Park and the entire Thursby family moves in.
1884 Death of Jane Ann Bennet Thursby while Emma is on tour in Europe.
1885 Emma Thursby returns to New York shortly before death of her sister Alice.
1893 Emma is invited to be a member of the 'Advisory Council on a World's Congress of Representative Women' at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. She performs at the Exposition, and meets Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk whose teachings she begins to follow.
1889 Emma Thursby first visits Green Acre, an artist community in Maine formed by Sarah Farmer. She also begins holding salons each Friday that function as both social and musical occasions for the musical literati and visiting friends.
January 1899 Death of Emma's pet and traveling companion, Mynah bird.
1895-1924 Emma Thursby once again takes voice pupils.
1903-1904 Emma and Ina Thursby travel to Japan and China.
September, 1918 Death of John J. Thursby.
1924 Emma Thursby suffers a paralytic attack which leaves her left side paralyzed.
July 4, 1931 Death of Emma Cecilia Thursby.