Adella Prentiss Hughes

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Adella Prentiss Hughes (29 November 1869 - 2 August 1950) was a pianist and impresario based in Cleveland Ohio. She is best known for having been the founder of the Cleveland Orchestra.


She was born in Cleveland, Ohio the third child of Loren Prentiss and Ellen Rebecca Rouse. Hughes earned a degree in music at Vassar College in 1890,where she performed in and planned tours for the college's glee club.[1] Hughes' mother insisted that Adella not pursue teaching or her PH.D., instead suggesting that the two go on a Grand Tour of Europe upon Hughes' graduation[2]

Upon returning to Cleveland in the early-1890s, Adella played piano as a soloist and accompanist, and organized concerts. Then she became more interested in promoting music. In 1901, Hughes established the Symphony Orchestra Concerts Series at Cleveland's Grays Armory.[1] She held Cleveland Grand orchestras from 1904 until 1912 when this orchestra disbanded.In 1915, Hughes created the Musical Arts Association, and in 1918, Hughes formed the Cleveland Orchestra and was its first general manager.[1] That same year, she invited Nikolai Sokoloff to join the Musical Arts Association and lead the Cleveland Orchestra.[3] She served as a manager of this orchestra for 15 years, and as administrator of the Musical Arts Association for thirty years. She also worked to include children's music education in Cleveland schools.

She married Felix Hughes, a professional singer, in 1903;[4] they divorced in 1923. Hughes died on 23 August 1950 in Cleveland, Ohio.


  1. ^ a b c Royster, Jacqueline Jones. “Adella Prentiss Hughes,” Profiles of Ohio Women, 1803-2003. Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio. 2003. pp. 146.
  2. ^ Von Glahn, Denise. Music and the Skillful Listener: American Women Compose the Natural World. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana. 2013.
  3. ^ DeAloia, Michael. “Severance Hall,” Lost Cleveland: Seven Wonders of the Sixth City.The History Press, Charleston, SC. pp. 37-44
  4. ^ Horowitz, Joseph. Moral Fire:Musical Portraits from America’s Fin de Siécle. University of California Press, Berkeley, Ca. 2012

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