Claudia L’Engle Adams moved to Jacksonville with her husband Charles Adams from Baltimore, Maryland at the age of twenty-five. Mrs. Adams arrived in Jacksonville a highly trained classical musician who studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. As a new resident of the city, Mrs. Adams desired to meet new friends who shared her passion for music.
In January 1890, Mrs. Adams gathered eleven friends in the parlor of her East Monroe Street home for weekly afternoons of musical study and performance. These informal meetings grew into a formal club in 1893 with the drafting of by-laws and the election of officers with Mrs. Adams as the first president of the Ladies’ Friday Musicale. Ladies’ Friday Musicale flourished in its first thirty years despite the Great Fire of 1901, World War I, and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918.
The emergence of the present day Friday Musicale took place in 1923 with a change in the by-laws resulting in the current title honoring the contribution of men within the organization. Six years later Concordia Hall, a gymnasium at 645 Oak Street (present location of Friday Musicale), was purchased as the permanent home of the organization. On March 25, 1995, Friday Musicale’s Auditorium was destroyed by arson. Three years later the building was rebuilt at 645 Oak Street where the organization continues its great work in the community.
Performances by legendary artists such as Nellie Melba, Walter Damrosch, Alma Gluck, Rosa Pnselle, Fritz Kreisler, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Josef Hofmann, and Ignace Jan Paderewski have graced the stages of Friday Musicale. In 1990, the Friday Musicale Chorus performed a Christmas Concert in the East Room of the White House during the organization’s Centennial year, and in 2000, members were selected for a national choir that performed in New York City’s Carnegie Hall.
From its early years, Friday Musicale began working with youth in Jacksonville, providing programs by and for children, During the years following World War I, Victor Talking Machines were purchased for music classes in the public schools and a Youth Orchestra was supported for over fifty years. Today, the Friday Musicale is still nurturing young musicians through recitals, competitions, scholarships, and master classes. Over fifty-seven students have returned to Jacksonville as professional musicians, further enriching our musical community for decades. In 2002, an Outstanding Young Pianists Competition was instituted with eight categories for students from Grades 5 through 12.
Outstanding music teachers are now being recognized with the Carolyn Day Pfohl Music Educator Award, in honor of Mrs. Pfohl who was the Supervisor of Music for the Duval County Public Schools from 1953-1968. Conductor John Larsen was the first honoree in 2008 for his exceptional choral program at First Coast High School over the past seventeen years.
After more than one hundred years, Friday Musicale continues to fulfill its original mission bringing fine music to the community while adding to its legacy of musical excellence.