Emil Johann Oberhoffer was born near Munich, Bavaria on August 10, 1867. His family was musically-inclined and Oberhoffer showed an early affinity for the organ and violin. He studied piano in Paris, France under noted pianist Isidor Philipp.
He emigrated to the United States in 1885 and would later move to Minnesota in 1897. In addition to teaching and lecturing, Oberhoffer found work with a number of local choral groups including the Apollo Club of Minneapolis, the Schubert Choral Association in St. Paul, and the Minneapolis Philharmonic Club. He became frustrated at the quality of the ensembles used as accompanists for these groups, and it is said that this became the catalyst for the establishment of a permanent orchestra in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra gave its first performance, under Oberhoffer's direction, on November 5th, 1903.
Oberhoffer built the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra into a symphony of not only local but regional reknown. He was adamant that touring would not only raise the orchestra's profile but generate a profit -- so adamant than he personally underwrote the first three tours from 1907 to 1909. In the years ahead the orchestra would continue to tour in places including Chicago, New York, Boston, and California. He began traditions that continue with the Minnesota Orchestra today including weekend pops concerts and special programs for youth. He was remembered as a graceful and energetic conductor who alledgedly practiced practiced in front of a full-length mirror.
Oberhoffer left Minneapolis in 1922 after increasing friction with the orchestra's management. Thereafter he held conductor positions with a variety of orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Emil Oberhoffer died in San Diego on May 22, 1933. He is buried in the Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis where the Oberhoffer Obelisk stands in his memory.
One box. The collection consists of 12 folders and 3 bound volumes of various materials including clippings, correspondence, handwritten notes, inventories of musical scores, and assorted other items.
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