On October 7 of 1883, three women met in the Episcopal rectory on 3rd Street to enjoy a musical afternoon. Celestine Fejervary, who was trained in voice, organ, and piano, Miss Gertrude Wilkinson, who also sang, and Mrs. David Garrett, wife of the Episcopal rector, decided to meet weekly to share performances and informal musical instruction.
They met throughout the winter and added a new member the following year, Mrs. Robert Smith, who was the organist at Grace (now Trinity) Cathedral. They also decided on a name for their group: The Bach Club.
By 1885, the club had grown to ten, and by the next year, had twenty-five members and a new name: The Music Students Club.
The Club put on many performances, both for their members and as fundraisers, and continued their studies of the history of music, covering Italian opera to German composers, American musicians to the French oeuvre. In 1893, they put on a program for the National Convention of Amateur Music Clubs at the Columbian World’s Fair in Chicago—and won fourth place.
In 1931, the Club presented a paper at the Biennial Convention at the Iowa Federation of Music Clubs, in recognition of its position as the oldest federated club in Iowa. In 1958, The Music Students Club celebrated its 75th Anniversary.
Over the next fifty-five years, the club continued to explore the world of music, eventually merging with the Etude Club, the Music Lovers Club, and other local and like-minded organizations.
Recently, our Special Collections Center received a donation that includes early yearbooks, minutes, images, scrapbooks, and other items from many of the music clubs of Davenport.
We are pleased to be chosen to preserve the history of Davenport’s appreciation for music so that it will still be available to the public when the Club celebrates its 150th Anniversary—and beyond.
*Wickham, Ina. “Music Club has Past, Future.” The Davenport Daily Times, 6Oct1958, p.15.