Solomon W. Straub (1842-1899): A Self-Made Music Educator on the Prairie

Document Type


Publication Date



nineteenth century, music education history, choral, professional development, music teachers, biography, instructional methods


The purpose of this study was to examine the life and work of Solomon W. Straub, who worked as a music teacher, composer, and publisher during the late nineteenth century. Straub was born in Butler Township of DeKalb County, Indiana, in 1842. He taught music in Dowagiac and Lansing, Michigan, before moving to Chicago, Illinois, in 1873. Straub established his own publishing firm in 1879 and promoted his publications and pedagogical ideas as a leader of singing conventions, normal musical institutes, and chautauqua choirs. Colleagues included his sisters Mary and Maria, his son, Arthur, and several prominent musicians who published with the company and assisted at institutes and conventions. Straub helped perpetuate, support, and develop music education through the cumulative influence of his various musical enterprises. His pedagogy reflected past methods developed by Lowell Mason forty years prior as well as the philosophies underlying progressive education during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Straub died in Chicago in September 1899 at fifty-six years of age. Although not considered a major figure in music education today, he played an important role in the musical life of the Midwest United States during the last three decades of the 1800s and helped carry the profession into the twentieth century.


This article was published in Journal of Historical Research in Music Education, Volume 37, Issue 1, 51-74, October 1, 2015,