Bush Conservatory of Music

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Bush Conservatory of Music
Bush Temple of Music 1.JPG
Original building in Chicago at N. Clark & Chicago
circa 2012
Type Private
Established 1901 (1901)
Closed 1932 (1932)
Campus Urban

The Bush Temple Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Art was an American conservatory of music based in Chicago with a branches in Dallas and Memphis.


The Conservatory was founded in 1901 by William Lincoln Bush (1861–1941),[1][2] of the Chicago-based piano manufacturer and retailer, Bush & Gerts Piano Company, a company that he co-founded as W. H. Bush and Company in 1885 with (i) his father, William H. Bush, and (ii) a noted, German-born piano-maker, John Gerts (1845–1913).[3]

Bush Temple of Music, Chicago
Northwest corner of North Clark Street and Chicago Avenue[4]
The building was a 6-story, early French Renaissance design by British-American Chicago architect John Edmund Oldaker Pridmore (1864–1940) featuring a buff brick and terra cotta exterior. The Building originally had a clock tower and included a showroom for the Bush and Gerts Piano Company, the Bush Temple Conservatory of Music, the Bush Temple Theatre, a museum, and offices. The building was designated a Chicago landmark in 2001.
Bush Temple of Music, Memphis, gave its inaugural concert on January 28, 1905.[5]
Bush Temple of Music, Dallas was located at 307 Elm Street. It was opened in 1903 and magaged by William Hayes Wray (1869–1943), who served as President of Bush and Gerts of Texas for twenty-five years. The building, formerly known as the "March Building," was a four-story structure — formerly the Fakes Furniture Store — that was purchased in 1902 by Mars Nearing Baker (1854–1941) from Col. Stephen Ellis Moss (1853–1942).[6] Its auditorium, occupying the second and third floors, had a seating capacity of 1,500. The remodeling was designed by Sanguinet & Staats.

Bush was treasurer of the Conservatory and also president of the Bush & Gerts Piano Company of Texas and the Bush Temple of Music in Dallas. Bush & Gerts had branches in Boston, Dallas, Austin, and Memphis.[7]

The conservatory flourished since its founding and was the first music conservatory in Chicago to provide dormitories for out-of-state students. In 1924, The Bush Conservatory was one of six institutions that founded the National Association of Schools of Music and Kenneth McPherson Bradley, president of the Bush Conservatory, served as its founding president from 1924 to 1928.

The conservatory's name ceased to exist in 1932 because — thirty-three months after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and under financial duress of the ensuing Great Depression — it merged with[8] the Chicago Conservatory College.[9]


Chicago Temple Conservatory

  • Kenneth McPherson Bradley (1872–1954) stepped down as president of the Bush Conservatory in October 1925 to become director of the Juilliard Foundation in New York.[10] He was the nephew of the former governor of Kentucky, William O'Connell Bradley.
  • Edgar Andrew Nelson (1882–1957), a choral director and oratory coach, and vice president at the Bush Conservatory, was appointed President in October 1925, replacing Bradley. Nelson was of Swedish descent. He had studied piano with Emil Larson and, later, Harald von Mickwitz. He also studied organ with Clarence Dickinson. In 1908, Nelson earned a Bachelor of Music from the Bush Conservatory and subsequently was appointed assistant managing director of the conservatory.[11] Nelson went on to serve as president of the Chicago Conservatory, after the Bush Conservatory merged with it in 1932.

Noted faculty and alumni[edit]

Faculty, Bush Conservatory, Chicago

Faculty, Bush Conservatory, Memphis

  • Frieda Siemens (pseudonym for Simonson; 1889–1969), pianist & director of the piano department. On July 27, 1905, Frieda married James Francis Bliss (1878–1928) in Manhattan, New York City. He was a dental surgeon from Springfield, Massachusetts.
  • Marie Greenwood-Guiberson (née Mary Susan Greenwood; 1864–1954), head of the vocal department. She was married to William P. Guiberson, and later to Edmond Smither Worden (1877–1949)[12]

Alumni, Bush Conservatory, Chicago


  1. ^ The National Cyclopædia of American Biography, Vol. 14, George Derby; James Terry White (eds.), James T. White & Company, New York (1910); OCLC 21265500
  2. ^ "In Memorandum: William Lincoln Bush," Presto Music Times, No. 2303, December 1941, pg. 6
  3. ^ Pianos and Their Makers, Vol. 2, by Alfred Dolge, Covina, California: Covina Publishing Company (1913), pg. 48; OCLC 500541714, 51374999
  4. ^ Chicago: Its History and Its Builders: a Century of Marvelous Growth, Volume 4, by Josiah Seymour Currey, S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago (1912), pg. 589; OCLC 1851611
  5. ^ "Successful Inaugural Concert of the Bush Temple conservatory of Memphis," Music Trade Review, Vol. 40, No. 5, February 4, 1905, pg. 11
  6. ^ "Big Temple of Music," Dallas Morning News, August 6, 1903, pg. 5
  7. ^ Historical Review of Chicago and Cook County and Selected Biography, edited by Arba Nelson Waterman (1836–1917), pg. 1171; OCLC 1731014
  8. ^ NASM, The First Forty Years; A Personal History of the National Association of Schools of Music, by Burnet Corwin Tuthill (1888–1982), National Association of Schools of Music (publisher), pg. 64 (1973); OCLC 624531
  9. ^ "Chicago Music Schools Merged," Rockford Morning Star (Illinois), August 19, 1932, pg. 7
  10. ^ "Foundation Head Named," The Oregonian, October 11, 1925, pg 72
  11. ^ The Swedish Element in Illinois: Survey of the Past Seven Decades, Ernst Wilhelm Olson (ed.), the Swedish-American Biographical Association, pg. 396 (1917); OCLC 6656848
  12. ^ Memphis' Own Prima Donna: The Story of Marie Greenwood (Mrs. Marie Greenwood Worden), by Waring Sherwood (born 1954) (1965); OCLC 8587301