Hermann Dossenbach (1868-1946)

Friends of Emily Sibley Watson:

Hermann Dossenbach is widely considered to be the father of orchestral music in Rochester. He began his career as a student of violin with Henri Appy of Rochester. By the early 1890s he had started a dance orchestra, the Dossenbach Orchestra, which performed for special events. He also taught violin, and one of his students was Emily Sibley Watson's son by her first marriage, James G. Averell.

By 1900, the Dossenbach Orchestra grew large enough to present a series of concerts by subscription, supported by patrons including Margaret Durbin Harper Sibley, Emily Sibley Watson, and George Eastman, among others. In 1911, Rush Rhees, president of the University of Rochester, arranged for Dossenbach to take a study trip to Germany, with the plan of developing a more permanent Rochester Orchesta on his return.  The first concert of the Rochester Orchestra was on November 18, 1912.  

In 1913, Dossenbach opened a music school at 47 Prince Street. This school would eventually become the beginnings of what is now the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music.

When Eastman Kodak founder George Eastman began to plan building the Eastman Theatre, he envisioned two orchestras, one to accompany silent movies, and the other a symphony orchestra.  He offered Dossenbach the job of conducting the movie orchestra, which Dossenbach refused.  The "new" Eastman Theatre Orchestra, now the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, was underwritten by core supporters of Dossenbach's original Rochester Orchestra.

In his later years, Dossenbach conducted the Rochester Park Band, a group originally organized by his brother Theodore.  At his brother's premature death, Hermann Dossenbach took over the conductorship.