The National High School Orchestra 1926--1938

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Publication Title

Journal of Research in Music Education

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music education history; school orchestra; Interlochen; Joseph E. Maddy; instrumental music


The purpose of this study was to document the history of the National High School Orchestra (NHSO), a select ensemble organized by Joseph E. Maddy under the auspices of the Music Supervisors' National Conference during the 1920s and 1930s. Research questions examined the orchestra's (1) origin, performances, and operation; (2) instrumentation and repertoire; (3) influence on music education; and (4) implications for modern practice. The first NHSO was assembled for the 1926 meeting of the Music Supervisors' National Conference in Detroit, Michigan. Initially led by Maddy, this ensemble was reorganized in 1927, 1928, 1930, 1932, and 1938. The NHSO helped promote instrumental music education through conference performances, radio broadcasts, and concerts presented throughout the country. This organization also demonstrated the potential of high school musicians and served as a basis for the NHSO Camp—the institution known today as the Interlochen Center for the Arts.


This article was published in Journal of Research in Music Education, Volume 57, No. 1, pp. 50-72, April, 2009,