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Collection on Emil Oberhoffer

Identifier: M/A 0084

Description of Contents

The collection consists of newspaper clippings, correspondence, handwritten notes, inventories of musical scores, music manuscripts, and assorted other items from Emil Oberhoffer’s career with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra.


  • 1900 - 1950


The collection is available for use in Special Collections during the department's open hours.


Emil Johann Oberhoffer was the first conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (later the Minnesota Orchestra). Born near Munich, Bavaria, on August 10, 1867, 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 moved to Minnesota in 1897. In addition to teaching and lecturing, Oberhoffer found work with 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 was 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 5, 1903.

Oberhoffer built the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra into a symphony of not only local but regional renown. 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 that followed, the orchestra continued to tour to 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 allegedly 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.


3.42 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Related Materials in Hennepin County Library Special Collections

General Collection Resources

Festival Te Deum
/Zgr 12o1 (Adult Sheet Music)
Love's Weather
*/Zgd 12o3 (Adult Reference Music Score)
Minnesota boat song
/Zgd 12o1 (Adult Sheet Music)
Slumber Song
/Zgd 1201.1 (Adult Sheet Music)
Collection on Emil Oberhoffer
Gail A. Wolfson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hennepin County Library Special Collections Repository

Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis MN 55401 U.S.A.